In re the Parental Responsibilities of A.C.H. and A.F., Children, and Concerning Anastasia C. Magana, Appellant, and Justin Lee Hill, Appellee.
Paso County District Court No. 16DR30207 Honorable Eric
Announced March 21, 2019 The Kanthaka Group, John Scorsine,
Colorado Springs, Colorado, for Appellant
Appearance for Appellee
Sherman & Howard L.L.C., Jordan M. Fox, Denver, Colorado;
Polidori, Franklin, Monahan, & Beattie L.L.C., Peter L.
Franklin, Lakewood, Colorado, for Amicus Curiae the Colorado
Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
1 Today, more and more children are a part of nontraditional
families - they are raised by at least one person not
biologically related to them, but who acts as a parent.
Commonly referred to as a psychological parent, an unrelated
person who meets statutory criteria may seek an order for
parenting time and decision-making responsibility under
section 14-10-123(1)(b), (c), C.R.S. 2018. See In re
Parental Responsibilities Concerning E.L.M.C., 100 P.3d
546, 559 (Colo.App. 2004) (A psychological parent is
"someone other than a biological parent who develops a
parent-child relationship with a child through day-to-day
interaction, companionship, and caring for the child."
(quoting In re Marriage of Martin, 42 P.3d 75, 77-78
(Colo.App. 2002))). In fact, this "statutory grant of
standing to a non-parent to seek legal custody of a child
constitutes legislative recognition of the importance of
'psychological parenting' to the best interests of a
child." In re Parental Responsibilities Concerning
V.R.P.F., 939 P.2d 512, 514 (Colo.App. 1997).
Recognition as a psychological parent can occur through a
contested proceeding, see, e.g., In re Parental
Responsibilities Concerning C.C.R.S., 892 P.2d 246
(Colo. 1995), or can be achieved through agreement between
the natural/adoptive and psychological parents.
2 But the statute addressing child support, section
14-10-115, C.R.S. 2018, does not define the term
"parent," let alone mention a psychological parent.
So it comes as little surprise that we are now asked to
decide whether a psychological parent, who fought for and
obtained a parenting time and decision-making responsibility
order for his ex-girlfriend's biological child, can also
be ordered to pay child support on behalf of that child. For
the reasons discussed below, we answer this question
"yes." As a result, we reverse the order denying
child support from a psychological parent and remand the case
to the district court for additional proceedings.
3 In 2006, Anastasia C. Magana (mother) and Justin Lee Hill
(Hill) became romantically involved and immediately moved in
together. At that time, mother had a three-month-old son,
A.F., whose biological father had been absent since his
birth. In 2007, mother gave birth to A.C.H., a daughter
fathered by Hill, and all of them lived together as a family
until 2010 when the couple broke up.
4 Following their split, the parties agreed to and followed
an equal parenting time schedule with both children.
5 In 2016, seeking permission to relocate to Texas, mother
petitioned the district court for an allocation of parental
responsibilities with respect only to A.C.H., the
parties' biological child. Hill, asserting that he was
A.F.'s psychological parent, separately filed his own
case seeking an allocation of parental responsibilities for
A.F., moved to consolidate the two petitions, and argued for
parental responsibilities as to both children, including
payment of child support (to him). The district court
consolidated the two cases.
6 Hill opposed the children's relocation and sought to be
named their primary residential parent. He expressed a
commitment to provide the children with a stable, loving, and
more permanent home in Colorado. At Hill's request, the
district court appointed a parental responsibility evaluator
(PRE), a licensed mental health professional, to investigate,
report, and make recommendations on parenting time. The
district court subsequently granted an unopposed motion for a
7 The parties eventually stipulated, and the PREs agreed,
that Hill was A.F.'s psychological parent, that mother
could relocate to Texas, that the children should not be
separated, and that the district court should enter the same
parental responsibilities order for both children.
8 After a three-day permanent orders hearing, the district
• noted that neither party pursued a paternity finding
under the Uniform Parentage Act, sections 19-4-101 to -130,
• determined that Hill was A.F.'s psychological
parent under section 14-10-123;
• found that "the children [were] well bonded and
attached to both parents";
• concluded that it was in the children's best
interests for them to reside primarily with mother in Texas,
but allocated substantial parenting time to Hill during
school breaks and over the summer, with a total of 107
• further concluded that mother should have sole
decision-making responsibility as to education and
extracurricular activities for the children, but the parties
should share joint ...