Posted On: December 26, 2009

Divorce - The "Psychological Parent"

The Gasper Law Group, PLLC
Domestic Relations Division

Here is the scenario: Kate is a single mother of two children ages 2 and 4. The biological father left just after the second child was born and has never been a part of the children’s lives. Kate meets Brian. Brian, being an upstanding guy who has no problems dating a woman with two children, soon marries and moves in with Kate. For two years the couple functions as a family. Kate stays home with the kids and Brian goes to work to financially support the family. Brian comes home at night and helps the children with homework, the family eats dinner together, and the bedtime routine exists of story time and saying prayers. The family attends church on Sundays. Then all of the sudden things go bad and Kate decides to split with the kids. Brian is emotionally attached to the children and wants parenting time. He also believes the kids want to spend time with him. Kate’s response is that Brian is not a biological parent and therefore has no rights with respect to the children. As it turns out, however, Kate is wrong.

In Colorado courts recognize the right of a non-biological parent under the “psychological parent” doctrine. A psychological parent is a person other than a biological parent that has a psychological attachment with a child. Typically the party asserting psychological parenting rights has been a major part of the child’s day-to-day life and making decisions for the child as a biological parent would. The courts recognize that a psychological parent’s bond with a child can often be as strong as the bond between a biological parent and the child. If a court determines a psychological bond exists, the court may award parenting time and parenting rights to the psychological parent. Brian has a good case to assert his rights as a biological parent.

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