The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its decision in In re the Parental Responsibilities of D.T., and Concerning Lavattiata on August 30, 2012.
Allocation of Parental Responsibilities—Nonparent—CRS § 14-10-123(1)(c).
Crystal Lavattiata appealed from the judgment dismissing her petition for parental responsibilities for D.T., who is the child of Christina Trujillo (mother). The judgment was affirmed and the case was remanded.
Mother and Lavattiata became acquainted when mother was a teenager and she attended school with Lavattiata’s children. After mother gave birth to D.T. in 2003, she moved into Lavattiata’s home, and Lavattiata assisted her in caring for the child. Although mother moved out of Lavattiata’s home when D.T. was 6 months old, Lavattiata continued to assist mother with D.T.’s care until 2010, when mother ended Lavattiata’s time with him. Lavattiata subsequently petitioned for an allocation of parental responsibilities. The trial court concluded that Lavattiata did not have standing under CRS § 14-10-123(1)(c) and dismissed Lavattiata’s petition.
On appeal, Lavattiata contended the trial court erred by dismissing her petition for parental responsibilities. A nonparent can attain standing under CRS § 14-10-123(1)(c) if the nonparent has had the physical care of the child for six months or more and commences an action seeking parental responsibilities within six months of the termination of such care. Here, mother at all times acted as D.T.’s parent and directed his care. Lavattiata functioned in a grandmother-like role to D.T. and provided care for D.T. at mother’s direction and under her supervision. Mother remained in control of D.T.’s care by continuously monitoring and directing Lavattiata’s actions with D.T., and then terminating Lavattiata’s care of the child when Lavattiata refused to follow her directions. Thus, the trial court did not err in concluding that Lavattiata lacked standing under CRS § 14-10-123(1)(c). The judgment was affirmed, and the case was remanded to the trial court for determination of mother’s appellate attorney fee request under CSR § 14-10-119.
Summary and full case available here.