June 16, 2019

Colorado Supreme Court: Error to Determine that Single Circumstance of Filing Parenting-Time Motion Precluded Finding of Intent to Abandon

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in D.P.H. v. J.L.B., and Concerning A.B. on September 12, 2011.

Abandonment Determination—CRS § 19-15-203—Delay of Adoption Proceeding—Totality of the Circumstances—Parenting-Time Motion.

The abandonment inquiry focuses on whether, under the totality of the circumstances, the parent’s intent during the twelve months preceding the commencement of the adoption proceeding was to abandon the child. It is the trial court’s responsibility to consider the totality of the circumstances and to make this factual determination, which is to be disturbed only if it is clearly erroneous. Here, the evidence before the juvenile court of the father’s intent during the twelve-month period was conflicting. Therefore, it was error for the court of appeals to determine that a single circumstance—father’s filing of a parenting-time motion—precluded a finding of intent to abandon, essentially as a matter of law.

In addition, it is unnecessary for a trial court to delay adoption proceedings until a parenting-time motion in another court is resolved, as long as the trial court adequately considers the parenting-time motion in making its abandonment determination. Here, the court of appeals erred in holding that the juvenile court should have delayed the adoption proceedings until the father’s parenting-time motion was resolved. The court of appeals’ judgment was reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

Summary and full case available here.

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