My wife and I have court-awarded permanent custody of our two granddaughters, ages 9 and 11. The custody litigation was hotly contested but was decided on the basis that the children had lived with us full-time for more than three years at the time of the proceedings. The parents had left the girls with us and left the state. Drugs were the root cause. In the three years since the final hearing, the parents have not visited the girls. There has been no support of any kind and telephone contact every few weeks.
We want to adopt the girls. However, at this time, we do not know where the parents are and do not have a phone number for them. We definitely will use an attorney but I would like to know what we are required to do to try to contact and inform the parents. We live in Colorado. Thanks in advance for your help.
Loc: Down home.
You'd have to proceed with termination of parental rights, first. That should be fairly easy, given the circumstances you've reported, but I posted the specific statute (under the process rules) that applies, just in case. So your second issue is what serves as legal notification in CO. Reading the rules of the CO court, it seems fairly easy there. Best of luck to you.
You can read the process rules here:
Rule 5. Service and Filing of Pleadings and Other Papers
(a) Service: When Required. Except as otherwise provided in these rules, every order required by its terms to be served, every pleading subsequent to the original complaint unless the court otherwise orders because of numerous defendants, every paper related to discovery required to be served upon a party unless the court otherwise orders, every written motion other than one which may be heard ex parte, and every written notice, appearance, demand, filings on appeal, and similar paper shall be served upon each of the parties. No service need be made on parties in default for failure to appear except that pleadings asserting new or additional claims for relief against them shall be served upon them in the manner provided for service of summons in Rule 304.
(b) Making Service. (1) Service under C.R.C.P. 305(a) on a party represented by an attorney is made upon the attorney unless the court orders personal service upon the party. A resident attorney, on whom pleadings and other papers may be served, shall be associated as attorney of record with any out-of-state attorney practicing in any courts of this state.
(2) Service under C.R.C.P. 305(a) is made by:
(A) Delivering a copy to the person served by:
(i) handing it to the person;
(ii) leaving it at the person's office with a clerk or other person in charge, or if no one is in charge, leaving it in a conspicuous place in the office; or
(iii) if the person has no office or the office is closed, leaving it at the person's dwelling house or usual place of abode with someone 18 years of age or older residing there;
(B) Mailing a copy to the last known address of the person served. Service by mail is complete on mailing;
(C) If the person served has no known address, leaving a copy with the clerk of the court; or
(D) Delivering a copy by any other means, including E-Service, other electronic means or a designated overnight courier, consented to in writing by the person served. Designation of a facsimile phone number in the pleadings effects consent in writing for such delivery. Parties who have subscribed to E-Filing, pursuant to Chief Justice Directive 06-02 have agreed to receive E-Service. Service by other electronic means is complete on transmission; service by other consented means is complete when the person making service delivers the copy to the agency designated to make delivery. Service by other electronic means or overnight courier under C.R.C.P. 305(b)(2)(D) is not effective if the party making service learns that the attempted service did not reach the person to be served.
(c) Service: Numerous Defendants. In any action in which there are unusually large numbers of defendants, the court, upon motion or of its own initiative, may order that service of the pleadings of the defendants and replies thereto need not be made as between the defendants and that any cross claim, counterclaim, or matter constituting an avoidance or affirmative defense contained therein shall be deemed to be denied or avoided by all other parties and that the filing of any such pleading and service thereof upon the plaintiff constitutes due notice of it to the parties. A copy of every such order shall be served upon the parties in such manner and form as the court directs.
(d) Filing; Certificate of Service. All papers after the initial pleading required to be served upon a party, together with a certificate of service, must be filed with the court within a reasonable time after service, but disclosures under Rule C.R.C.P. 316 and discovery requests and responses shall not be filed until they are used in the proceeding or the court orders otherwise.
(e) Filing with Court Defined. The filing of pleadings and other papers with the court as required by these rules shall be made by filing them with the clerk of the court, except that the judge may permit the papers to be filed with the judge, in which event the judge shall note thereon the filing date and forthwith transmit them to the office of the clerk. A paper filed by E-Filing in compliance with Chief Justice Directive 06-02 constitutes a written paper for the purpose of this Rule. The clerk shall not refuse to accept any paper presented for filing solely because it is not presented in proper form as required by these rules or any local practice.
(f) Inmate Filing and Service. Except where personal service is required, a pleading filed or served by an inmate confined to an institution is timely filed or served if deposited in the institution's internal mailing system on or before the last day for filing or serving. If an institution has a system designed for legal mail, the inmate must use that system to receive the benefit of this rule.
Source: (a), (b), (d), and (e) amended July 22, 1993, effective January 1, 1994; entire rule amended, adopted, and effective June 28, 2007.
Cross references: For service of process, see C.R.C.P. 4; for parties, see C.R.C.P. 17 to 25.
CO Statute: § 19-3-604
Circumstances That Are Grounds for Termination
Abandonment or Extreme Parental Disinterest
Mental Illness or Deficiency
Alcohol or Drug Induced Incapacity
Failure of Reasonable Efforts
Abuse/Neglect or Loss of Rights of Another Child
Failure to Maintain Contact
Child Judged in Need of Services/Dependent
Child's Best Interest
Child in care 15 of 22 months (or less)
Felony assault of child or sibling
Murder/Manslaughter of sibling child
Circumstances That Are Not Grounds for Termination
Failure to Provide Support
Failure to Establish Paternity
Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 19-3-604 (West, WESTLAW through Colo. 2003 Legis. Serv., Ch. 73)
The court may order a termination of the parent-child legal relationship upon the finding by clear and convincing evidence of any one of the following:
That the child has been adjudicated dependent or neglected and has been abandoned by the child's parent(s) as follows: That the parent(s) have surrendered physical custody of the child for a period of 6 months or more and have not manifested during such period the [censored] intention to resume physical custody of the child or to make permanent legal arrangements for the care of the child except in cases when voluntary placement is renewable; or the identity of the parent of the child is unknown and has been unknown for 3 months or more and that reasonable efforts to identify and locate the parent have failed;
That the child is adjudicated dependent or neglected and the court finds that no appropriate treatment plan can be devised to address the unfitness of the parent(s).
In making such a determination, the court shall find one of the following as the basis for unfitness:
Emotional illness, mental illness, or mental deficiency of the parent of such duration or nature as to render the parent unlikely within a reasonable time to care for the ongoing physical, mental, and emotional needs and conditions of the child;
A single incident resulting in serious bodily injury or disfigurement of the child;
Long-term confinement of the parent of such duration that the parent is not eligible for parole for at least 6 years after the date the child was adjudicated dependent or neglected or, in a designated county, if the child is under 6 years of age at the time a petition is filed, the long-term confinement of the parent of such duration that the parent is not eligible for parole for at least 36 months after the date the child was adjudicated dependent or neglected and the court has found by clear and convincing evidence that no appropriate treatment plan can be devised to address the unfitness of the parent or parents;
Serious bodily injury or death of a sibling due to proven parental abuse or neglect;
An identifiable pattern of habitual abuse to which the child or another child has been subjected and, as a result of which, a court has adjudicated another child as neglected or dependent based upon allegations of sexual or physical abuse, or a court of competent jurisdiction has determined that such abuse has caused the death of another child;
An identifiable pattern of sexual abuse of the child;
The torture or extreme cruelty to the child, a sibling of the child, or another child of either parent;
That the child is adjudicated dependent or neglected and all of the following exist:
That an appropriate treatment plan approved by the court has not been reasonably complied with or has not been successful or that the court has previously found that an appropriate treatment plan could not be devised. In a designated county, if a child is under 6 years of age at the time a petition is filed, no parent shall be found to be in reasonable compliance with or to have been successful at a court-approved treatment plan when: the parent has not attended visitations with the child as set forth in the treatment plan, unless good cause can be shown for failing to visit; or the parent exhibits the same problems addressed in the treatment plan without adequate improvement, including, but not limited to, improvement in the relationship with the child, and is unable or unwilling to provide nurturing and safe parenting sufficiently adequate to meet the child's physical, emotional, and mental health needs;
That the parent is unfit; and
That the conduct or condition of the parent or parents is unlikely to change within a reasonable time.
In determining unfitness, conduct, or condition, the court shall find that continuation of the legal relationship between parent and child is likely to result in grave risk of death or serious bodily injury to the child or that the conduct or condition of the parent or parents renders the parent or parents unable or unwilling to give the child reasonable parental care to include, at a minimum, nurturing and safe parenting sufficiently adequate to meet the child's physical, emotional, and mental health needs and conditions. In making such determinations, the court shall consider, but not be limited to, the following:
Any one of the bases for a finding of parental unfitness set forth above.
Conduct towards the child of a physically or sexually abusive nature;
History of violent behavior; A single incident of life-threatening or serious bodily injury or disfigurement of the child;
Excessive use of intoxicating liquors or controlled substances, which affects the ability to care and provide for the child;
Neglect of the child;
Injury or death of a sibling due to proven parental abuse or neglect, murder, voluntary manslaughter, or circumstances in which a parent aided, abetted, or attempted the commission of
or conspired or solicited to commit murder of a child's sibling; Reasonable efforts by child-caring agencies which have been unable to rehabilitate the parent or parents;
That any parent who is a named respondent in the termination proceeding has had prior involvement
with the Department of Human Services concerning an incident of abuse or neglect involving the
child and a subsequent incident of abuse or neglect occurs;
Whether a parent committed felony assault that resulted in serious bodily injury to the child or to another child of the parent;
That the child has been in foster care under the responsibility of the county department for 15 of the most recent 22 months, unless: the child is placed with a relative of the child.; the county department or a State agency has documented in the case plan, which shall be available for court review, that filing such a motion would not be in the best interests of the child; or where required to make reasonable efforts, services identified as necessary for the safe return of the child to the child's home have not been provided to the family consistent with the time period in the case plan;
The child has been in foster care under the responsibility of the county department for such period of time due to circumstances beyond the control of the parent such as incarceration of the parent for a reasonable period of time, court delays or continuances that are not attributable to the parent, or such other reasonable circumstances that the court finds are beyond the control of the parent;
Whether, on two or more occasions, a child in the physical custody of the parent has been adjudicated dependent or neglected in a proceeding under this article of comparable proceedings under the laws of another State or the Federal government;
Whether, on one or more prior occasions, a parent has had his or her parent-child legal relationship terminated pursuant to law or comparable proceedings under the laws of another State or of the Federal government.
In considering the termination of the parent- child legal relationship, the court shall give primary consideration to the physical, mental, and emotional conditions and needs of the child.
Loc: oxford, ohio
If you have no address, no phone #, no way to contact a service by publication will have to be ran in the local newspaper for 6 weeks in the city of the parents last known address. Odds are with the info of drug issues, they never read one so it shouldn't be to hard to terminate parental rights.
Thank you very much for that comprehensive and encouraging response. You helped me and I appreciate it.
my heart goes out to you .you have been thru a lot.it is wonderful yhat you stepped in to help your grandkids.i do not know much about your situation,but i can tell you do not delay in getting thoase parental rights taken away,and get that lawyer now,and i mean now before the parents show up again.we took foster parenting glasses.we found out that parents can get treatment and get their kids back no matter what they have done,so hurry up.i know the kids will be better off with you in a stable home.noraj