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
Kanthaka Group, John Scorsine, Colorado Springs, Colorado,
Appearance for Appellee
& 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
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.
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-girlfriends 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.
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.
Following their split, the parties agreed to and followed an
equal parenting time schedule with both children.
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
Hill opposed the childrens 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 Hills 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
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.
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 childrens 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 overnights;
• 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 ...