As a child grows up, they likely will have multiple interactions and develop bonds with more people than just their biological parents. Whether it be step-parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles or neighbors, many people often pitch in to take care of a kid. However, when the relationship between the biological parents and another caregiver goes south, there are often many questions that people have regarding what they can do to ensure that they remain a permanent fixture in the child’s life. In the state of Colorado, there are a couple of instances in which a non-biological parent may be able to obtain custody rights over a child who isn’t theirs. Let’s talk about the what these circumstances would look like.
Situation 1: When the child is not in the physical care of either parent.
While “physical care” is not specifically defined in the state of Colorado, when a non-biological parents files for custody it often sends up red flags that the biological parents may not be around as often as they should. The court will almost always look into the nature, duration and frequency of the time the child and the biological parents spend together. The same goes for the time that the child spends with the party that is trying to get custody of them.
For example, if a child goes to their aunt’s house for a weekend while their parent is on a business trip or attending a wedding, this will likely not meet the standard for sparking a custody battle as the aunt is simply acting as a babysitter. However, if the child is dropped off at the aunt’s home often without warning and no indication of when the biological parent will be returning to get their child, this is often cause for alarm. Pursuing custody of the child in a case like this would likely lead to a favorable outcome for the aunt.
Situation 2: When a child has been in the custody of the third party for more than six months and is then removed from their custody.
Another situation that the court often deals with during custody hearings for non-biological parents occurs when a child stays with the third party for an extended amount of time (longer than six months) and is then removed from their care. These circumstances are most common when there are step-parents living in the same home as the child. When the biological parent and the stepparent separate, the step-parent can absolutely try to obtain custody of the child. The stepparent must, however, be able to prove that while they are not related to the child by blood, that they have become the “psychological parent” to the child over time. The relationship the child has with the biological parent will also be considered to determine which home the child would be most likely to succeed.
When You Have Standing To File For Custody
Once you are sure that you have the grounds to file for custody as a third party, the court must then decide how custody will be allocated. While biological parents have a Constitutional right to care for their child, this is not true of a non-biological parent. It is important to note that in a court proceeding like this, the court will automatically assume that the biological parents are acting in the best interest of the child. This means that the non-biological parent who is seeking custody must be able to prove that the opposite is true. Many times, this will require that a court appointed expert has to decide which living situation is best psychologically for the child. They will take into account how much involvement the biological parents have had in the child’s life, as well as the involvement the third party has had as well. In the end, each case is different depending on the specific circumstances.
If you are a non-biological parent who wants to seek custody of a child and you need some help, contact The Law Offices of Loomis & Greene today. We can answer any additional questions you may have about this complicated legal process as well as tell you if we think your case if one worth pursuing. Call us now!