Court Gives Custody Standing to Non-Parent in Colorado Case
Denver, CO (Law Firm Newswire) January 5, 2012 - A recent child custody case in Colorado put a father in the unlikely position of having to prevent a non-parent guardian from taking custody of his daughter while his co-parent tried to take her out of state.
Timothy Smith and Auriel Lauzon were divorced in 2006 and Lauzon was given majority parenting time by the courts. In 2008, Lauzon wanted to move out of state and Smith objected.
Maybe less expectedly, the family’s babysitter Laura Silvernail also objected to the relocation. She contends that since she is already the adoptive parent of two of Smith and Lauzon’s children, the daughter in question should be with her. She argued that the daughter would not be able to spend time with her siblings if she moved out of state.
The trial court found that Silvernail has the appropriate standing to request parental responsibilities. The trial court went even further and ruled that the daughter would be better off if Silvernail was the primary residential custodian and Smith and Lauzon got limited parenting time.
“The court’s main responsibility here is to the child,” said Denver child custody attorney Bill Thode. “The court always wants the parents to be the primary guardians for the children, but it will not hesitate to work out a different arrangement if it thinks something else is what is best for the child.”
Smith, the father in the case, argued on appeal that the trial court was wrong to give Silvernail parental standing even though the child was living with her and not with either parent at the time of the trial.
Smith also argued that the trial court should not have given Silvernail parental responsibilities without showing evidence that it was in the child’s best interests. The law says that for the court to give the child to a non-parent, the parent needs to pose a grave risk to the child or be unwilling to care for the child.
The appellate court found Silvernail has standing to request parental rights because she already was the primary residential custodian. The court sided with Smith on the issue of primary guardianship because the trial court had not proven that Smith was an unfit parent.
“This case shows that the court wants to give the child to the parents,” Thode said. “It is important to have a child custody attorney who understands what the law says about non-parents and about moving children out of state.”
Thode Law Firm, P.C.
201 Steele Street, Suite 201
Denver, CO 80206
Call: (303) 330-0425
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