In the event of a child custody case, courts strongly believe that it’s in the best interests of a child to live with the biological parent, which means that a non-biological parent or a stepparent might find it difficult to get custody of a non-biological child. Fortunately for stepparents, Colorado statutes provide various circumstances that offer stepparents rights to child custody of a stepchild.
Stepparent’s Child Custody Rights
A stepparent could seek custody of a stepchild that isn’t under either biological parent’s physical care. In cases like this, the court would evaluate the nature of contact, duration, and frequency between the biological parents and the child, as well as the relationship between the stepparent and the stepchild.
For example, if the child’s biological parent dropped them off at a relative’s home without giving a well-defined reason and left the child for an extensive period of time without even asking about the child while away, renowned family attorneys in Denver, CO explains that the court might consider this as the child being under a third party’s physical care.
Another situation that provides stepparents child custody rights involve the child being under a third party’s physical care for longer than six months, and if the child isn’t under the care of the third party any longer, with the third party seeking child custody within half a year of the physical care concluding. Note that physical care doesn’t really have to be exclusive. For instance, when the child is left with the grandparents or other relatives and both or one biological parent gets the child.
Other Crucial Things to Note
When the court establishes that a stepparent is entitled to child custody, it would then determine how to allocate the custody order. It won’t use the same standard utilized for determining custody between two divorces or separating biological parents, but would presume that the biological parent has the best interests of the child at heart. However, a stepparent could try to refute this presumption with evidence that the child’s biological parent doesn’t have the best interests of the child in mind.
The court would have to take into account factors including the stepparent’s and biological parents’ involvement in the life of the child and the mental state of those seeking custody. The judge would then thoroughly evaluate these facts and come to a decision according to child’s best interests.