The termination of a father's parental rights is a decision that Colorado courts do not take lightly. In addition to considering the desires of the father, the court must take into consideration the interests of the child. The court's decision is made after carefully evaluating the potential impact that severing the physical and emotional ties to the parent will have upon the child and whether terminating the father's (or mother's) rights are in a child's best interests.
Grounds for Involuntary Termination
Under Colorado law, a father's rights may be terminated against his will only if certain criteria are met. Grounds for the involuntary termination of parental rights include the presentation of clear and convincing evidence of physical, emotional or sexual abuse, neglect, a diagnosed mental illness that inhibits the father's ability to care for the child, drug or alcohol abuse on behalf of the parent that negatively impacts the safety and well being of the child, and certain felony convictions that result in incarceration of the parent for an extended period of time. In some cases, proven instances of abuse or neglect to another child that resulted in the loss of custody may be grounds for the termination of the father's parental rights if that is determined to be in the child's best interests.
Grounds for Voluntary Relenquishment of Rights
In cases in which a father wishes to voluntarily relinquish the parental rights to his child, the court will weigh the wishes of the father against the interests and future well being of the child. Under Colorado law, any father wishing to voluntarily terminate his parental rights must undergo relinquishment counseling and present a signed affidavit that states that he has been advised of the legality of his petition, is fully aware of the impact of his decision and that he is making the request to terminate his parental rights free of any threats of intimidation or duress.
Formal Hearing Requirements
Before a father's parental rights may be terminated, Colorado law mandates that a formal hearing be held. In cases where the father's whereabouts are unknown, the petitioner must make a reasonable effort to locate the father in question to notify him of the date and time of the hearing. Notice must be served to the father's last known address through registered mail with proof of notice filed before the court. If no prior address is available, notice of the hearing must be published in a public newspaper in the county in which the hearing is to be held at least 30 days prior to the date of the hearing.
Release of All Future Rights
Once the formal hearing has occurred, the father will receive a copy of the court's order terminating all future rights to the child in question. Under Colorado law, the order will state that from that day forward, the father will have no legal right to be consulted regarding the health care, education or religious upbringing of the child, and will have no future rights to benefit financially as the father of the child. This includes the right to claim the child for future tax benefits. Further, the father is thereby released of any obligations to provide financial support for the care and well being of the child in question.