Basic Timeframes for Dependency or Neglect Cases
Basic Timeframes for Dependency or Neglect Cases
Boulder County applies the statutory timeframes for expedited cases (those cases involving children under the age of six and their siblings) to all dependency or neglect cases. The following timeframes apply in all dependency or neglect cases:
❖ Adjudications must be held within 30 days of service of the petition in emergency situations and within 60 days of service in non-emergency situations.
❖ Dispositions must be held within 30 days of adjudication.
❖ Permanency planning hearings must be held within 90 days of disposition.
❖ The child must be in a permanent placement within 12 months of placement unless the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that it is not in the best interests of the child.
❖ Termination trials must be held within 45 days of filing the petition in emergency cases and within 60 days of filing the petition in non-emergency cases.
Appeals - Colorado Appellate Rules
The parents have the right to appeal the adjudication and disposition of a dependency or neglect case and any order terminating their parent-child legal relationship with the child. If an appeal is filed, no termination decision is final until the higher court has ruled and the additional time for appeal has expired. In cases where termination of the parent-child legal relationship has been ordered, the child is not available for adoption until the final decision by the appellate court or the time for appeal has expired. Any party may request an extension of time for any of the following periods, so the total elapsed time may be greater than the following schedule indicates.
Step by Step Guide to the Appeals Process
Step 1: District Court Order is Issued
This order is prepared by the county attorney after the court rules in a case. The appeal period does not begin to run until the court signs the written order; specifically, it does not run from the date that the court gave its ruling from the bench.
Step 2: Notice of Appeal is Filed ( Within 45 days of Step 1
The notice of appeal – indicating an intent to appeal – must be filed by the party appealing the decision (the “appellant”) within 45 days of the issuance of the written order.
Step 3: Record on Appeal is Filed with the Court of Appeals ( Within 90 days of
The court reporter has up to 90 days from the date that the Notice of Appeal is filed to prepare the transcribed record from the District Court for use as the record on appeal. This will usually include a transcript of the trial/hearing.
Step 4: Brief of the Appellant is Filed ( Within 40 days of Step 3
The appellant’s brief is due 40 days after the record on appeal is filed.
Step 5: Brief of the Appellee is Filed ( Within 30 days of Step 4
Briefs of any parties who are opposing the appeal (the “appellees”) are due 30 days after receiving the appellant’s brief. Each appellee its brief with the Clerk of the Court of Appeals.
Step 6: Appellant’s Reply Brief is Filed ( Within 14 days of Step 5
The appellant may choose to file a second brief, responding to issues raised in the appellee’s brief. The appellant must do so within 14 days of receiving the appellee’s brief.
Step 7: Court of Appeals Issues its Decision ( No time limit
The Court of Appeals may take as much time as it deems necessary to review the District Court decision and issue its decision. At any party’s request, the Court of Appeals will hear oral argument prior to issuing its decision.
Step 8: Court of Appeals Decision Becomes Final ( 15 days after Step 7
If no Petition for Rehearing is filed or if the Petition is filed and denied, the Court of Appeals’ decision becomes final 15 days after the decision was issued.
Step 9: Petition for Rehearing may be Filed ( Within 14 days of Step 7
If a party is dissatisfied with the decision of the Court of Appeals, he or she may file a Petition for Rehearing with the Clerk of the Court of Appeals, within 14 days of receiving the Court of Appeals’ first decision.
Step 10: Decision on Petition for Rehearing is Issued ( No time limit
The Court of Appeals may take as much time as it deems necessary to review the petition for rehearing and issue its decision on that petition.
Step 11: Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the Supreme Court is Filed ( Within 30
days of Step 8
Any party who is dissatisfied with the Court of Appeals’ decision may file a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the Colorado Supreme Court. This petition requests that the Supreme Court hear the case. The petition must be filed within 30 days of the ruling on the Petition for Rehearing.
Step 12: Cross Petitions and Opposition Briefs are Filed ( Within 10 days of
Any response by the party opposing the appeal to the Supreme Court must be filed within 10 days of the receipt of the petition.
Step 13: Supreme Court Acceptance or Denial of Certiorari ( No time limit
The Supreme Court may take as much time as it deems necessary to review the Petition for Writ of Certiorari and decide whether or not it will review the case. If the Supreme Court denies the certiorari petition, the Court of Appeals’ decision becomes final 32 days after the Supreme Court issues its order denying the petition.
Step 14: Brief of Party Appealing the Decision is Filed with Supreme Court (
Within 40 days of Step 13
If the Supreme Court grants certiorari to review the Court of Appeals’ decision, the party that is appealing the decision must file its brief within 40 days of the order granting certiorari. The party must file an original and 10 copies of the brief with the Clerk of the Supreme Court.
Step 15: Brief of Party Defending the Decision is Filed ( Within 30 days of Step 14
Briefs of any other parties who are opposing the appeal are due within 30 days after receiving the brief of the appealing party. The party must file an original and 10 copies of the brief with the Clerk of the Supreme Court.
Step 16: Supreme Court Decision is Issued ( No time limit
The Supreme Court may take as much time as it deems necessary to review the decision of the Court of Appeals and issue its own ruling.
Step 17: Supreme Court Decision Becomes Final ( 15 days after Step 16
If no Petition for Rehearing is filed, the Supreme Court’s decision becomes final 15 days after the decision was issued.
Step 18: Petition for Rehearing ( Within 14 days of Step 16
If a party is dissatisfied with the Supreme Court’s decision, he or she may file a Petition for Rehearing within 14 days of receiving the decision. If no Petition for Rehearing is filed, the Supreme Court’s decision becomes final 15 days after the decision was rendered.
Step 19: Decision on Petition for Rehearing ( No time limit
The Supreme Court may take as much time as it deems necessary to decide whether to grant a rehearing. If the petition is granted, the Supreme Court will review its own decision and issue a second decision. Again, there is no time limit on how long it may deliberate. If the petition is denied, the Supreme Court decision becomes final 2 days after the order denying the petition is issued.
Step 20: Appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court?
If issues involving the United States Constitution are raised in an appeal, parties to the case have the option of appealing the Colorado Supreme Court’s final decision to the United States Supreme Court. Boulder County has not had any cases appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but it remains a possibility.
Special Note: The Colorado Children’s Code provides that appeals in juvenile cases will be given precedence on the appellate court dockets, and that appeals of orders terminating the parent-child legal relationship will be given precedence over all other matters.
Termination cases that are appealed to the Court of Appeals typically take between one year and one and a half years from the date of the termination decree to be resolved. Termination cases further appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court take an additional six months to one year to complete the appeals process.
§19-5-201, C.R.S., et. seq.
Potential adoptive parents may file for adoption as soon as the child has been legally freed for adoption when an order terminating parental rights becomes final. If no appeal is filed, the child is free 45 days after entry of the written decree of termination of parental rights. If an appeal is filed, the child is not free until a final mandate is issued by the appellate court. In cases of relinquishment, the child is not free until 90 days after an uncontested relinquishment order.
An adoption petition must be filed within 30 days of an adoptive placement, but the court may waive this requirement for reasonable cause or excusable neglect. Adoption petitions must be accompanied by a home study report and a criminal background check must be completed on the adopting parents. The court may waive a home study if the adopting parent is the child’s grandparent, aunt, uncle, brother, or sister. An adoption hearing may be held no sooner than six months after the child’s placement date, and all adoption hearings are closed to the public.
The adoptee must be under age 18 (with some exceptions), present in Colorado, and legally available for adoption. If the child is age 12 or older, he or she must consent to the adoption. Any person age 21 or older, including foster parents, may petition to adopt. Married couples must file jointly, unless the couple is legally separated or one spouse is the child’s natural parent. The Department does not currently file joint petitions for gay or lesbian couples, but they may adopt separately.
In order to enter an adoption decree, the court must find that:
1. the child is available for adoption;
2. the adopting parents are suitable and of good moral character;
3. the criminal records check does not disqualify the adopting parents;
4. the child is a proper subject for adoption in the home; and
5. the child’s best interests will be served by the adoption.
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