In Colorado, 3rd party parenting time cases can arise when individuals other than the child’s biological parents seek legal rights and responsibilities for the child. These cases often involve extended family members, such as grandparents, stepparents, or individuals who have acted as psychological parents. Understanding the laws and processes surrounding 3rd party parenting time is crucial for those seeking to establish meaningful relationships with children in their lives. In this guide, we will explore aspects of 3rd party parenting time laws in Colorado, incorporating insights from family law attorney Billie Jo Sowinski from the law firm of Petrelli Previtera.
- What are 3rd Party Parenting Time Laws in Colorado? Colorado 3rd party parenting time laws govern the rights and responsibilities of individuals other than the child’s biological parents in seeking parenting time and decision-making authority.
- Who Qualifies as a 3rd Party in Parenting Time Cases? A 3rd party refers to someone other than the child’s biological parents, such as grandparents, stepparents, or psychological parents. Specifically, any person who has had significant involvement with the child and has had physical care of the child for a period of six months or more has the right to request an allocation of parental responsibilities, be deemed a parent, and be granted parenting time. This provision extends to situations where stepparents seek an allocation of parental responsibilities for their stepchild, particularly if the other biological parent is not actively involved in the child’s life.
- What is a Psychological Parent? A psychological parent is an individual who has had significant involvement with a child and has had physical care of the child for at least six months or more and seeks to establish legal rights and responsibilities through an allocation of parental responsibilities.
- How Can a 3rd Party Establish Parenting Time Rights? To establish parenting time rights as a 3rd party, the individual must file a petition for an allocation of parental responsibilities with the court. This process involves providing evidence of significant involvement with the child and demonstrating that parenting time would be in the child’s best interest.
- What Factors Do Colorado Courts Consider in 3rd Party Parenting Time Cases? Colorado courts consider various factors when determining 3rd party parenting time, including the nature and quality of the existing relationship between the child and the 3rd party, the child’s best interests, the involvement of the biological parents, and the willingness of the 3rd party to promote the child’s relationship with the biological parents.
- Can a Biological Parent Contest 3rd Party Parenting Time? Yes, a biological parent can contest 3rd party parenting time by presenting evidence that it is not in the child’s best interest or that the 3rd party’s involvement may be detrimental to the child’s well-being.
- Are There Specific Rights for Grandparents in Colorado? Colorado recognizes grandparents’ rights in certain circumstances. Grandparents can seek parenting time if it is deemed to be in the child’s best interest and if they can show a significant and ongoing relationship with the child.
- Can a 3rd Party be Obligated to Pay Child Support? Yes, if a 3rd party is granted parenting time or decision-making responsibilities, they may be obligated to pay child support, even if they are not the child’s biological parent. This is particularly relevant in cases where the 3rd party is deemed a psychological parent.
- Can a Parent Use 3rd Party Parenting Time as a Defense or Counterclaim? In some cases, a parent may use the argument that a 3rd party has acted as a psychological parent to assert their rights or to limit the involvement of the 3rd party. However, this is less common, as parents often seek to limit the 3rd party’s involvement.
Navigating 3rd party parenting time laws in Colorado requires a clear understanding of the legal framework and processes involved. By considering the best interests of the child and the nature of the relationships between the child, biological parents, and 3rd parties, the court aims to make decisions that promote the child’s well-being and meaningful
About the Author:
Billie Jo L. Sowinski is a dedicated family law attorney in Denver, Colorado. With a strong commitment to guiding individuals through the complexities of family law, she provides compassionate support during life transitions. Specializing in marriage dissolutions, child custody, modifications, and adoptions, Billie Jo is known for actively listening to her clients, ensuring no detail goes unnoticed. She promotes fairness and active parental involvement while navigating legal obstacles. With a Juris Doctorate and Bachelor of Science degrees from the University of South Dakota, Billie Jo brings expertise and empathy to her practice.