Good News for the Psychological Parent

A recent decision by the Colorado Court of Appeals is good news for those seeking parental responsibilities. In re the Parental Responsibilities of M.W. the Court found that a psychological parent could be granted parental responsibilities under C.R.S. 14-10-123(1)(c) without having to show that the child's biological parents are unfit.

In this case the biological Mother's boyfriend, who was present when the child was born and who lived with the minor child until she was two years old, filed for parental responsibilities upon him and the mother separating. While Mother and Mother's Boyfriend were together, Mother encouraged boyfriend to act as the child's father.

In this new case, the Colorado Court of Appeals found that the Court may intervene, without violating the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Troxel v. Granville, which holds that parents have a fundamental right to parent and make decisions concerning the care and control of their children.

The Court found that when a non-parent is involved in a child's life to the degree that he or she becomes a psychological parent, and he or she meets the standing requirements set forth in 14-10-123(1) the Court may intervene, without violating Troxel, and consider whether it is in the child's best interest to allocate parenting responsibilities to the non-biological parent.

To receive standing under 14-10-123(1) you must satisfy one of the following factors:

  • By a parent;
  • By a person other that a parent, in the county where the child is a permanent resident or where the child is found, but only if the child is not in the physical care of on the child's parents;
  • By a person other than a parent who has had the physical care of the child for a period of 182 days or more, if such action is commenced with 182 after the termination of such physical care;
  • Or parent or person other than a parent who has been granted custody of a child or who has been allocated parental responsibilities through a juvenile court where the child is a resident.

This decision is promising for non-parents who have played an integral role in raising a child. Under this new decision, psychological parents can ask the Court to grant them parenting responsibilities even if the child's biological parents are fit to parent.

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