Judicial Bypass Wiki

No matter their age, every person in Colorado has the legal right to get an abortion. Unlike other states, Colorado does not limit abortion based on {{gestation}{Gestation means the number of weeks a person has been pregnant}} or {{viability}{viability is a medical term that means when a fetus could potentially survive outside of the womb}}. But the state restricts abortions in some ways for young people.

In Colorado, a doctor must tell a young person’s parents, {{guardian}{A legal guardian has a court order stating that they have the legal authority and duty to care for a minor. This is different from a foster parent}}, or foster parent that they are getting an abortion before the procedure. This is called parental notification or parental notice.

This only means that the doctor must try to tell the parent/guardian about the abortion. It does not mean you need their permission to get an abortion. 

The doctor must tell both of a young person’s parents 48 hours before the abortion. If your parents do not live together, you can tell the doctor that you would only want one of your parents to be notified. If you live with a relative other than your parents, you can tell the doctor that you would like for your relative to be notified instead of your parents. If you have a guardian or foster parent, only they will be notified 48 hours before the abortion.

There are some exceptions to the parental notification rule. A doctor does not have to tell your parent or guardian that you plan to have an abortion if:

  • You are married and do not live with your parent or guardian;
  • You are an {{emancipated minor}{An emancipated minor went through a legal process and has court order stating that they are freed from their parents and are legally an adult}};
  • You tell your doctor that you have been physically or emotionally abused by your parent or guardian, and your doctor reports the abuse to police; or
  • There is a medical emergency and not enough time for your doctor to notify your parent or guardian.

If none of these exceptions apply to you but you do not want to your parent to be told, there is another option called a judicial bypass. A judicial bypass means asking a judge to allow you to get an abortion without telling your parent.

Judicial Bypass is a legal process that a lawyer can help you with. While you do not need a lawyer and can ask for judicial bypass to the court by yourself, you can get a lawyer for free if you want one. All you need to do is ask the court for one, or contact the Planned Parenthood hotline (1-866-277-2771).

Your lawyer’s job is to represent you in court. That means they are there to help you ask for what you want. Even if the lawyer was given to you by the court, it is your lawyer’s job to help you ask the court for what you want.

The next section explains how to get an attorney for a judicial bypass petition.


  1. Colorado is one of the states that has a dedicated group of advocates working to help young people who need a judicial bypass.

You can visit the website for Planned Parenthood of Rocky Mountains here. Planned Parenthood runs a hotline (Text CARE to 57890 or call 303-813-7765) to help young people through the judicial bypass process.

This free service connects you with a lawyer who will represent you in your judicial bypass case for free. Once you call the Planned Parenthood of Rocky Mountains hotline, they will find a lawyer for you. The lawyer will take care of the steps in the judicial bypass process, including filing the {{petition}{A petition is a form you fill in with information that tells the court what you are asking for}}, scheduling a {{hearing}{A hearing is a meeting with the judge}} with a judge, and representing you at the hearing.

  1. You also have the option to start the judicial waiver process on your own. The process is free. The form for filling out your petition is here.
  • This form is where you can tell the court that you want a lawyer for free.
  • Because the petition requires you to put down information about where you will have the abortion, you should first find a clinic. A list of clinics in Colorado is here.
    • When you call the clinic, tell them that you are a minor and need help with a judicial bypass. Clinics can also tell you more about the process and answer your questions.

If you have questions about filling out the petition, you can call the abortion clinic or the {{court clerk}{A clerk is someone who works for the court, they are the ones that usually accept forms and schedule meetings with the judge}} to ask for help. A list of court clerks available to help is available here.

  1. Once you have filled out a petition, you must turn it into the district court where you live. To find the district court in your area, you can look here. If you live near Denver, you can also choose to turn in the petition to the Denver Juvenile Court.

After the court receives your petition, the judge will schedule a hearing and make a decision within 4 days. If the judge does not make a decision within 4 days, you will automatically get a {{court order}{An official paper that you give to the clinic to show them that you have a judicial bypass so your parents do not need to be notified}}.

Your lawyer will contact you after receiving your case. It is important to talk to your lawyer before your hearing because they will have a lot of useful information and advice for you about talking to the judge.

At the {{hearing}{a hearing is a meeting with a judge}}, usually your attorney will ask you a series of questions to help the judge determine whether or not to grant your motion.  Sometimes, after your attorney is finished asking you questions, the judge will then ask you questions. Since every judge is different, we cannot know exactly what a judge will ask you.

Both your attorney and the judges may ask your age, whether you have had a job, if you have lived away from your parents, if you have traveled by yourself, if you have your own money and know what a budget is, and whether you have made other big decisions in your life. They might also ask what has happened since you found out you were pregnant, what you think will happen if you don’t have an abortion, and what you did to decide you wanted or needed an abortion.  They might ask you why you want or need an abortion.

You can find a list of questions that a judge might ask here. Your attorney and the judge might also ask questions that are not listed here, but it is a good idea to start thinking about what your answers are to these questions and talk about them with your attorney so you are ready at the hearing

After the hearing, the judge makes a decision about whether you can have an abortion without telling your parent. If you do not go to court to talk to the judge at the time you are scheduled to be there, the judge could automatically decide that you cannot get an abortion without getting consent from your parent.

If you think you cannot make it to the hearing, but still want the judicial bypass, you can ask for a different time to talk to the judge. If you have a lawyer, ask your lawyer about changing the time. If you do not have a ride or are worried about getting to your hearing, let your attorney know as soon as possible. If you don’t have a lawyer, call the court and tell them you have a time to talk to the judge but need a {{different time}{The person at the court who you speak with might call this a continuance}}.

After the {{hearing}{a hearing is a meeting with a judge}}, the judge decides whether they think  you are {{mature and well-informed}{The judge thinks you can make the decision to get an abortion without your parents being told}} enough to make this decision on your own, or if it’s in your {{best interest}{The judge thinks it would be better for you if your parents are not told about the abortion}} not to involve your parent(s).

The judge usually makes a decision right away. But if they do not, the judge has 4 days to give you a decision. If the judge does not make a decision within 4 days, you will automatically get a court order saying your parents do not have to be notified.

If the judge makes a decision and agrees that you can get an abortion without your parent or guardian being notified, you will get a {{court order}{official paper to give to the clinic to show them that you have a judicial bypass}}.

Having an order from the court means you can get an abortion in a clinic in Colorado without involving your parent. If you have an attorney, they will make sure the court order gets to your clinic before your appointment.  If you do not have an attorney, you will need to take the court order with you to the clinic to show that you can have an abortion without your parent or guardian being told.

No. The judicial bypass is confidential, which means that no one outside of the court will be told about it. When you send in your application to get a judicial bypass, your parent or guardian will not be told about the {{hearing}{a hearing is a meeting with a judge}}.

In Colorado, all judicial bypass cases are “sealed” meaning that no one can look up your name or find out about your case.

No, if you are granted a judicial bypass that means you can get an abortion if you want. It does not mean you are required to and you can always change your mind. The court {{order}{official paper to give to the clinic to show them that you have a judicial bypass}} just means you can make the decision about whether you want or need an abortion without involving your parent/guardian.

If the judge says you cannot get an abortion without your parent’s permission, you can {{appeal}{An appeal is what happens when you do not agree with the judge’s decision and want to try and challenge that decision in court}} the decision.

So even if the judge tells you no, you can ask another court with different judges to make a different decision.

If you had a lawyer for the {{hearing}{a hearing is a meeting with a judge}}, they can talk to you about the appeal and help you understand what you need to do next. If you did not have a lawyer for the hearing, you will need to ask the court to give you a lawyer for the appeal.

The form you need to fill out to appeal is available here. You should fill out the appeal form as soon as possible. After you fill out the form, the next court will have 5 days to make a decision.

You do not have to pay any money to get a judicial waiver. You may be able to get help paying for your abortion. Your clinic may be able to help you cover the entire cost of your abortion through an abortion fund.

These are abortion funds in Colorado that may be able to help:

Cobalt Abortion Fund (available for all Colorado residents)

Patient Resources

contact [email protected] once you have scheduled your appointment with one of their care providers

Reproductive Equality Fund of the Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center (available for patients at Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center)



You can find a map of abortion clinics in Colorado here. You can also find a list of Planned Parenthood locations here.

Clinics may have limited services and/or hours.

You can also use these directories to find an abortion clinic near you:

Planned Parenthood: Directory Here (make sure you select abortion in the services drop down menu) 

National Abortion Federation: Directory Here 

Abortion Care Network: Directory Here 

I Need An Abortion: Directory Here

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