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  1. #1
    Kalina78 is offline Junior Member
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    Step-parent rights

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Colorado

    I understand by the "read this before you post rules," that I, as a stepmother, am a legal stranger. Quoted from the post rules: "The child has two parents. THE STEPPARENT is a legal stranger now and forever." But, I have found articles in 2008 regarding Colorado law that say stepparents do have some legal rights, and that these are relatively new for the state of Colorado. This is why I'm posting, in hopes of clarification.

    I am the stepmother of two boys. My husband is the Primary Caretaker and was appointed by the Magistrate as Sole Decision-Maker in the Best Interst of the Boys. I am trying to figure out my legal rights as a stepparent.

    I've read all I can, including an article published on a local law office's website, "Legal Rights of Stepparents." It helps by only clarifying that I do have a few legal rights, but doesn't really define those rights.

    It does state I can be named temporary guardian, in writing, up to 9-months at time. It states:

    "A parent who has been granted sole or joint decision making authority (sometimes referred to as "custody") following a divorce or allocation of parental responsibility case ("APR case") may delegate that authority to another person for up to nine months. The delegation of authority is called a temporary guardianship, and must be done in writing. The delegation of authority does not strip either parent of the right to make decisions, but rather, the delegation of authority can run concurrently with the parent's authority. For example, a divorced mother or father may delegate to a new spouse the authority to sign certain school consent forms."

    Does this mean my husband can designate me temporary guardian and specify my role in the children's lives so I may be allowed to be involved in the medical care for the children, so I may be allowed to be involved in the educational, recreational and religious activities of the children?

    Even if I don't have all the legal rights the mother does, does my husband's role as Sole Decision-Maker allow him to decide I may be involved with the children when the mother protests at school, at the dr's office?

    Please, I just want to be clear on my rights.
    Last edited by Kalina78; 09-02-2008 at 08:13 PM. Reason: clarifying I did read the before you post rules
  2. #2
    Humusluvr is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalina78 View Post
    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Colorado

    I am the stepmother of two boys. My husband is the Primary Caretaker and was appointed by the Magistrate as Sole Decision-Maker in the Best Interst of the Boys. I am trying to figure out my legal rights as a stepparent.

    I've read all I can, including an article published on a local law office's website, "Legal Rights of Stepparents." It helps by only clarifying that I do have a few legal rights, but doesn't really define those rights.

    It does state I can be named temporary guardian, in writing, up to 9-months at time. It states:

    "A parent who has been granted sole or joint decision making authority (sometimes referred to as "custody") following a divorce or allocation of parental responsibility case ("APR case") may delegate that authority to another person for up to nine months. The delegation of authority is called a temporary guardianship, and must be done in writing. The delegation of authority does not strip either parent of the right to make decisions, but rather, the delegation of authority can run concurrently with the parent's authority. For example, a divorced mother or father may delegate to a new spouse the authority to sign certain school consent forms."

    Does this mean my husband can designate me temporary guardian and specify my role in the children's lives so I may be allowed to be involved in the medical care for the children, so I may be allowed to be involved in the educational, recreational and religious activities of the children?

    Due to the way our work schedules and parenting-time schedules overlap, I have more one on one time with the children then either my husband, their father, or their mother. The children are insured and medically covered by me through my policy at work. I love my place in our family and I want to be involved in every step.

    The Magistrate in the case has noted the children have an apporpriate relationship with me, and modified the parenting plan to make my husband primary caretaker and sole decsion-maker because the mother has anger issues and admitted to the Magistrate she has been physically violent toward my husband, the Father. Unfortunately, the mother threatens and yells in all public places and threatens me at every turn with lawsuits or restraining orders.

    Even if I don't have all the legal rights the mother does, does my husband's role as Sole Decision-Maker allow him to decide I may be involved with the children when the mother protests at school, at the dr's office?

    Please, I just want to be clear on my rights. I love the children and want to work within my rights so they may never be harmed by me by doing something I thought was right, only to find out it was not in my rights.What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)?
    Don't get real excited here.

    What you basically get is permission to pick the kids up from school or sign a consent form for a field trip. And that is only if mom agrees.

    If mom says "no third parties," then you have NO RIGHTS. ESPECIALLY not at the doctor's office. Father and mother will both ALWAYS trump you. So either send dad, or make sure mom allows you to take child to the doctor.

    But don't get real excited thinking you have rights that trump the mother. In reality - you are legally no one. You may love the kids and care for the kids, but make no real legal decisions for those kids. I suggest you see eye to eye with mom.
  3. #3
    milspecgirl is offline Senior Member
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    This is a very tricky subject. You are a legal stranger to the child. Your husband can give you the authority to pick the kids up from school, get info, take them to the Dr, etc. However, you do not have the right to make any major decisions for the children. That is for their parents to decide. Your husband can grant you this power of attorney (although I would check with an atty cause I have never heard of this) but this is normally something that would be used when dad is not going to be able to do it- out of town on business, can't get out of meeting to go to Dr, etc. It is not meant to make you be the 3rd parent or have any parental rights
    If mom doesn't want you at the parent teacher conference, do not go to the one she is at. Have your husband set up a separate one for you all to attend. Do not go to Dr appts that she will be at and she should have 1st option at taking them if dad can't- before you do
    Your place is to nurture and love the kids and ENCOURAGE their relationship with both their parents. Never let them think that you are their mother or that you are trying to take over that role. It can get nasty very quick
  4. #4
    janM is offline Member
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    Sounds basically like a Power of Attorney.

    The others are right.
  5. #5
    LdiJ is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalina78 View Post
    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Colorado

    I am the stepmother of two boys. My husband is the Primary Caretaker and was appointed by the Magistrate as Sole Decision-Maker in the Best Interst of the Boys. I am trying to figure out my legal rights as a stepparent.

    I've read all I can, including an article published on a local law office's website, "Legal Rights of Stepparents." It helps by only clarifying that I do have a few legal rights, but doesn't really define those rights.

    It does state I can be named temporary guardian, in writing, up to 9-months at time. It states:

    "A parent who has been granted sole or joint decision making authority (sometimes referred to as "custody") following a divorce or allocation of parental responsibility case ("APR case") may delegate that authority to another person for up to nine months. The delegation of authority is called a temporary guardianship, and must be done in writing. The delegation of authority does not strip either parent of the right to make decisions, but rather, the delegation of authority can run concurrently with the parent's authority. For example, a divorced mother or father may delegate to a new spouse the authority to sign certain school consent forms."

    Does this mean my husband can designate me temporary guardian and specify my role in the children's lives so I may be allowed to be involved in the medical care for the children, so I may be allowed to be involved in the educational, recreational and religious activities of the children?

    Due to the way our work schedules and parenting-time schedules overlap, I have more one on one time with the children then either my husband, their father, or their mother. The children are insured and medically covered by me through my policy at work. I love my place in our family and I want to be involved in every step.

    The Magistrate in the case has noted the children have an apporpriate relationship with me, and modified the parenting plan to make my husband primary caretaker and sole decsion-maker because the mother has anger issues and admitted to the Magistrate she has been physically violent toward my husband, the Father. Unfortunately, the mother threatens and yells in all public places and threatens me at every turn with lawsuits or restraining orders.

    Even if I don't have all the legal rights the mother does, does my husband's role as Sole Decision-Maker allow him to decide I may be involved with the children when the mother protests at school, at the dr's office?

    Please, I just want to be clear on my rights. I love the children and want to work within my rights so they may never be harmed by me by doing something I thought was right, only to find out it was not in my rights.What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)?
    I honestly don't know where you saw the information that stepparents have any legal rights at all, but if was honestly false information. Stepparents are legal strangers to children, and honestly have no rights....and where that 9 month guardianship thing comes from is just bizarre and wierd. You truly have no rights at all.

    Now, your husband can give you a power of a attorney to deal with the medical and educations providers on his behalf, but even that is problematic if the other parent objects.

    A smart and wise stepparent steps back and does not usurp a parental role at all, and leaves it to their spouse to deal with medical and educational issues if the other parent truly objects to their involvement.

    In fact, parents have been known to lose primary or sole custody when their spouse oversteps and usurps a parental role. Judges and other court professionals take a dim view of that.

    My advice would be to back off on medical and educational issues, and let your husband deal with those, even if its inconvenient for him. If nothing else, the children will deal with a lot less stress and there will be a lot fewer confrontations with mom.

    edit to add....

    An NEVER list yourself as a parent or guardian on any medical or educational records. That is a HUGE no-no.
    Last edited by LdiJ; 09-02-2008 at 08:21 PM.
  6. #6
    proud_parent is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by LdiJ View Post
    I honestly don't know where you saw the information that stepparents have any legal rights at all, but if was honestly false information.
    Methinks she got it from this site:
    [url=http://www.frascona.com/resource/gag1004stepparent.htm]Article - "Legal Rights of Stepparents"[/url]

    I cannot vouch for the author, but he is a practicing Family Law attorney in Colorado. (Be advised, however...in a clip on YouTube, he is billed as "The Singing Divorce Attorney". )
    Last edited by proud_parent; 09-02-2008 at 08:30 PM. Reason: removed attorney's name from URL reference
  7. #7
    Kalina78 is offline Junior Member
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    Thank you for your responses. Trust me, I'm not getting excited. I just don't want to harm the children in any way for any of my actions. As sole decision-maker, my husband has put me in a role where I set up the dr appointments, where I attend these appointments, where I talk to the teachers on his behalf. If sole decision-maker doesn't legally allow him to put me in that role, I'd like to know.
  8. #8
    Kalina78 is offline Junior Member
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    and yes the article I refer to is from [url=http://www.frascona.com/resource/gag1004stepparent.htm]Article - "Legal Rights of Stepparents" By Gregg A. Greenstein, Esq.[/url]

    Thank you for posting the link, I meant to and forgot.

    If the author is wrong, he's wrong.
  9. #9
    proud_parent is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalina78 View Post
    If the author is wrong, he's wrong.
    He isn't necessarily wrong. He is an attorney from your state, and those of us who thus far have responded are not. You may want to consult with other attorneys in your area to determine whether his (very carefully worded, I might add) information is correct given the local judicial climate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalina78 View Post
    Thank you for your responses. Trust me, I'm not getting excited. I just don't want to harm the children in any way for any of my actions. As sole decision-maker, my husband has put me in a role where I set up the dr appointments, where I attend these appointments, where I talk to the teachers on his behalf. If sole decision-maker doesn't legally allow him to put me in that role, I'd like to know.
    Your husband may in fact be acting entirely within the scope of the law. Even so, you both need to understand that if the children's mother objects to your involvement, and if she is also willing to press the issue in court, there are certain judges who would be willing to entertain her arguments why your involvement ought to be limited.

    You need to decide whether, in light of this, you are willing to accept the consequences that may be associated with your assuming the role your husband has "put" you in. If you are not comfortable with this arrangement, you need to discuss your concerns with him ASAP.
    Last edited by proud_parent; 09-02-2008 at 08:50 PM.
  10. #10
    LdiJ is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalina78 View Post
    Thank you for your responses. Trust me, I'm not getting excited. I just don't want to harm the children in any way for any of my actions. As sole decision-maker, my husband has put me in a role where I set up the dr appointments, where I attend these appointments, where I talk to the teachers on his behalf. If sole decision-maker doesn't legally allow him to put me in that role, I'd like to know.
    No, sole decision maker honestly does not allow him to put you into that role. Or rather, it allows him to put you into that role temporarily, but doesn't allow him to keep you in that role, and doesn't allow him to put you into that role without putting unnecessary stress on the children.

    You really don't want to be in that role. Its not healthy for the coparenting relationship, its not emotionally healthy for the kids, and its not healthy for your marriage.

    Dad wants you to be the "mom" and to take over the mom role. However that wasn't what the judge gave him when the judge gave him sole custody. What the judge gave him was the right to be both mom AND dad when it came to making those decisions regarding the children. The judge expected him to make those decisions, not to abdicate that role to his spouse.

    You and dad are climbing a slippery slope. If dad wants to continue to be the sole decision maker, then that is what dad needs to be. Dad needs to attend the parent/teacher conferences. Dad needs to attend the doctors appointments (even if you make them), dad needs to be the "hands on" parent.

    Otherwise, dad is going to be back in court sooner than later, and its going to be because you have usurped the "mom" role.
  11. #11
    Blue Meanie is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by LdiJ View Post
    No, sole decision maker honestly does not allow him to put you into that role. Or rather, it allows him to put you into that role temporarily, but doesn't allow him to keep you in that role, and doesn't allow him to put you into that role without putting unnecessary stress on the children.

    You really don't want to be in that role. Its not healthy for the coparenting relationship, its not emotionally healthy for the kids, and its not healthy for your marriage.

    Dad wants you to be the "mom" and to take over the mom role. However that wasn't what the judge gave him when the judge gave him sole custody. What the judge gave him was the right to be both mom AND dad when it came to making those decisions regarding the children. The judge expected him to make those decisions, not to abdicate that role to his spouse.

    You and dad are climbing a slippery slope. If dad wants to continue to be the sole decision maker, then that is what dad needs to be. Dad needs to attend the parent/teacher conferences. Dad needs to attend the doctors appointments (even if you make them), dad needs to be the "hands on" parent.

    Otherwise, dad is going to be back in court sooner than later, and its going to be because you have usurped the "mom" role.
    Bravo!! Very well said!!
  12. #12
    Ohiogal is offline Senior Member
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    WHY was dad given SOLE LEGAL CUSTODY?
    Parents should remember 3 things: Love your kids more than you hate your ex; when you have children the relationship with the other parent is until death; your children determine what type of nursing home you end up in.
    Nothing stated by me should be taken as giving you legal advice or forming an attorney/client relationship.

    Attorney-GAL in Ohio.

    I've removed the knife from my back, polished it, and will one day return it -- long after you think I have forgotten.
  13. #13
    LdiJ is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalina78 View Post
    and yes the article I refer to is from [url=http://www.frascona.com/resource/gag1004stepparent.htm]Article - "Legal Rights of Stepparents" By Gregg A. Greenstein, Esq.[/url]

    Thank you for posting the link, I meant to and forgot.

    If the author is wrong, he's wrong.
    I just read the article, and I think that his use of the term "rights" is misleading.

    What he is saying is that parents can authorize a stepparent to act on a parent's behalf, in certain limited, and specific circumstances, and that steppparents have limited standing to sue to attempt to obtain visitation or custody rights in certain, specific circumstances.

    I don't disagree with that. Nor does that contradict what I have previously posted.

    I would also love to see the law or case law where that whole "temporary guardianship" bit comes from, because its wierd, particularly the 9 months part.
  14. #14
    proud_parent is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by LdiJ View Post
    I would also love to see the law or case law where that whole "temporary guardianship" bit comes from, because its wierd, particularly the 9 months part.
    COLORADO COURT OF APPEALS
    February 3, 2000
    No. 99CA0293

    Contrary to the view of the parties, we agree with the trial court that 15-14-207(3) authorizes appointment of a temporary guardian under the circumstances here.

    After outlining the procedure for giving notice of the proceeding, 15-14-207, C.R.S. 1999, provides:

    (2) Upon hearing, if the court finds that a qualified person seeks appointment, venue is proper, the required notices have been given, the requirements of section 15-14-204 have been met, and the welfare and best interests of the minor will be served by the requested appointment, it shall make the appointment. In other cases the court may dismiss the proceedings or make any other disposition of the matter that will best serve the interest of the minor.

    (3) If necessary, the court may appoint a temporary guardian, with the status of an ordinary guardian of a minor, but the authority of a temporary guardian shall not last longer than nine months.

    In our view, subsection 3 of 15-14-207 stands alone and does not incorporate the requirements of 15-14-204 for appointment of a permanent guardian. The purpose of the General Assembly must have been to provide for the case where a guardian's services are necessary temporarily even though a parent has not abandoned a child.
    [url=http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=co&vol=2000app\ct020317&invol=1]FindLaw | Cases and Codes[/url]

    NOTE that this case cites Colorado Revised Statutes as they existed in 1999. Part of the statutes dealing with guardianship of a minor were repealed and reenacted in 2000. The current text of the statutes sets the duration for court-appointed temporary guardianship at six months:
    [url=http://www.michie.com/colorado/lpext.dll/cocode/258d3/2631a/2753c/2769c/276d1?f=templates&fn=document-frame.htm&2.0#JD_15-14-204]Michie's Legal Resources[/url]
  15. #15
    LdiJ is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by proud_parent View Post
    [url=http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=co&vol=2000app\ct020317&invol=1]FindLaw | Cases and Codes[/url]

    NOTE that this case cites Colorado Revised Statutes as they existed in 1999. Part of the statutes dealing with guardianship of a minor were repealed and reenacted in 2000. The current text of the statutes sets the duration for court-appointed temporary guardianship at six months:
    [url=http://www.michie.com/colorado/lpext.dll/cocode/258d3/2631a/2753c/2769c/276d1?f=templates&fn=document-frame.htm&2.0#JD_15-14-204]Michie's Legal Resources[/url]
    I don't get where this case relates to the issue at hand. In the article, the author was stating that a parent with sole custody, can appoint a temporary guardian to act concurrently with the parent, but that the duration of the temporary guardianship could only be for nine months. What you cited seems to refer to a court's ability to appoint a temporary guardian.

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