Posted by: Vernon Ready
Category: Parenting Rights
Ready Law receives regular requests for representation from clients who are not biological parents, but who have taken on the role of parent in some way. Sometimes grandparents, and sometimes stepparents, these clients have typically acted in the role of parent for years, only to have a biological parent suddenly cut them off and disallow all contact with the child.
This situation is heart wrenching for the child, and for the person who is being denied access to the child. However, Colorado law only allows these clients to ask for parenting time if certain conditions, including strict deadlines, are met. Specifically, the party requesting parenting time with a child must have had physical care of the child for at least six months, and that must have been true within the last six months. Physical care does not have to be exclusive, but simply providing daycare for a child will not qualify.
Parents have a constitutional right to raise their own child, and the law is justified in carefully protecting those rights. Imagine the disruption in family life if Colorado custody laws made it easy for non-parents to petition for parenting rights. On the other hand, many parents allow parent-like bonds to develop between a partner and a child, and then attempt to sever the bond after a break-up. This can have terrible consequences for the child, and could be devastating for the partner, just as the loss of parenting rights would be for an involved and engaged biological parent.
The simplest solution is for the person taking on the role of parent to adopt the child. This can be much more easily accomplished while the biological parents are in agreement with the stepparent adoption. Unfortunately, many people spend years fulfilling the role of parent without ever establishing legal parenting rights. This leaves the option of petitioning a court for an allocation of parental responsibilities. However, this petition must be filed within six months of termination of physical care of the child. Failure to file the petition within six months could result in dismissal of a late request.
Given the importance of timing this request, it is very important to seek the advice and assistance of an attorney with experience requesting visitation and parenting rights for grandparents and non-biological parents. Contact Ready Law for a free consultation regarding your parenting rights