Losing parental rights is a life changing event. This article focuses on the time it takes before a parent (including the father) loses those rights in case a court decides to revoke them. Let’s first look at parental rights in general and then get more specific.
Regarding family law in Colorado, extinguishing parental rights may be categorized as either voluntary or involuntary. The voluntary ending of parental rights can be difficult to achieve, since children are in general presumed to have the right to a parental relationship. They also have the right to receive care and financial support from both parents. The involuntary termination of parental rights, by comparison, usually results from one parent’s misconduct.
Colorado statutes mandate that to effectively petition to cancel parental rights, the court must first have overwhelming proof there exists a previous determination of abandonment. Commonly asked is the question: how much time should go on before a father loses his legally granted parental rights?
One situation considered a basis for cancelling parental rights is where there is proof a child has been placed in foster care under the care of the applicable county department for 15 of the last 22 months. There are exceptions to this rule. These are if the child was placed under the care of a relative, if the department considers that it is not in the child’s best interests, and if sensible efforts have not been made to get the child back with the parent.
Another situation is the matter of the long-term imprisonment of the parent, with such a sentence that he or she is not qualified for parole for at least six years from the date the child was neglected or judged dependent, or if the child is below six years of age and the parent is not eligible for parole for a minimum of 36 months.
Other conditions for termination of parental rights in Colorado involve the child being neglected by his or her parents, the parent being judged incapable with the parent’s circumstance or conduct being questionable to change over a reasonable time period.
When deciding if a parent is unfit, the court must consider various factors. These include any history of violent conduct, neglect of the child, behavior of a physically or sexually abusive manner towards the child, extreme use of controlled or intoxicating substances that affects his or her ability to fully support for the child, or a single case of serious or life-threatening mutilation or bodily injury to the child.
When the court determines whether to terminate a mother or father’s parental rights, the chief factor to be considered is always the best interests of the child, as well as their physical, emotional and mental needs.
It should be pointed out that although parental rights are considered fundamental in the eyes of the law, Colorado and many other state courts have other laws to ensure a child is given a stable and safe home where they can grow physically, emotionally, and intellectually. This considered more important than a parent’s rights to keep a relation with their minor child.