Arrange a consultation today: 303-951-4506

Due to precautions related to COVID-19, we have expanded our options for remote consultations. Please contact our office to discuss whether a full phone consultation or video conference is appropriate for your situation.


Step parent adoption is a common yet unique process. It occurs when the spouse of one of the child’s biological parents adopts the child as their own. This adoption process is easier than other types of adoption because of the involvement of a birth parent. However, there are still some legal barriers that must be overcome to complete the process. 

At Litvak Litvak Mehrtens and Carlton, we have decades of combined experience in family matters such as this. Below, we’ll answer your questions about step parent adoption.

The process for a step parent adopting a child is quicker and cheaper than if a non-family member was adopting. It is also overall a much simpler process. In an adoption where a family member is not involved, extensive screening procedures must be conducted. This includes home visits and studies, background checks, and exhaustive interviews.

Because there is a biological parent involved in step parent adoption, many states don’t require some of these procedures. If they do, they are generally not to the extent that other types of adoption require.

Depending on the state the adoption occurs in, the child might also need to agree to the adoption. In Colorado, if the child is over the age of 12, they must provide their consent. 

After the court has finalized the adoption, the biological parent forfeits all responsibilities while the step parent takes them on. The child will get a new birth certificate with the step parents name replacing the biological parent’s. Depending on the family’s desires, the child might also take on their new parent’s last name.

Step parent adoption does require consent from both biological parents of the child. This can sometimes prove challenging because it means the parent must agree with losing all his or her parental responsibilities. Not only will they lose the ability to make any decisions regarding the child, they also forfeit all visitation and communication rights. Depending on the custodial parent’s desires, they may never be able to contact their child again. 

Because of the absolute nature of this agreement, it may prove difficult to gain consent from the birth parent.

If the non-custodial parent disagrees with the step parent adoption and refuses consent, there are ways to go around this. The step parent and their spouse, the custodial parent, can file a petition with the court. This petition intends to terminate the rights of the non-custodial biological parent. 

For the petition to pass, the family must prove a few factors. These include the fact that the non-custodial parent may be unfit for parenting, has abandoned the child, or has failed to provide support for at least one year. There must be plenty of evidence to support these claims because of the definitiveness of the decision.

At the adoption hearing, the step parent and his or her spouse will appear in court with their attorney. The attorney will then present evidence to the court that the adoption has met all the required steps to take place. This is when they will show either the consent or termination of rights of the biological parent that is out of the picture. They will also need to prove to the court that this adoption is in the best interests of the child. 

If the adoption is granted, the judge will sign off on the proper documentation that certifies the adoption. One of these will be a Judgement of Termination of Parental Rights and Step Parent Adoption, which will have been prepared by your attorney. If the family wishes to change the last name of the child, this will also occur at the conclusion of the hearing.

Once a child reaches the age of 18 or older, they are considered an adult. However, adult adoption is legal and is also relatively common. In an adult adoption case, consent of the non-custodial parent is not needed. Only consent of the child to be adopted and the step parent wishing to adopt is required.

Like any other adoption, adopting a stepchild does cost. The costs vary from state to state. Prices can range anywhere from $500 to $3,500. This may include adoption fees, attorney fees, background checks, and any social worker service fees. To get the best estimate for the current price of adoption in Denver, CO and surrounding areas, contact our attorneys.

In Colorado, a step parent must meet certain criteria before they are eligible to adopt their step child. The step parent must first be at least 21 years of age or older. Under state law, the step parent must also have been a resident of Colorado for at least six months. Finally, they must undergo and successfully pass several background checks.

Once these criteria are met, the step parent must complete the following steps:

  • File a petition for step parent adoption with the court
  • Show consent and approval of adoption by custodial parent
  • Show consent and approval of adoption by non-custodial parent
    • If the non-custodial parent does not consent, show proof that they have abandoned the child or that their rights have been otherwise terminated.
  • Gain consent of the child (only if they’re 12 years or older)

Once all of this information is provided, you can successfully apply for adoption.

Colorado Step Parent Adoption Attorneys

If you are looking to adopt your step child or are curious about step parent adoption in general, we can help. Our attorneys at Litvak Litvak Mehrtens and Carlton have the knowledge, experiences, and resources to make this process as smooth as possible. Call us today at 303-951-4506 or fill out an online intake form to schedule a consultation.