Help! I’m deploying and I want my current spouse to spend parenting time with my child while I’m gone. Is this allowed in Colorado?
The short answer: Yes.
In 2007, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that a fit parent could delegate parenting time to a stepparent if that fit parent was unavailable to exercise his or her parenting time. In re Marriage of DePalma, 176 P.3d 829 (Colo. App. 2007).
In the DePalma case, Dad and Mom had two kids together and then divorced. Dad was a pilot and a reservist in the military. After his divorce from Mom, Dad remarried and received notice that he was to be deployed to Iraq for an extended period of time. He asked Mom to let the kids’ stepmother exercise an equal parenting schedule with the kids while he was deployed. Mom opposed this. The Court granted Dad’s request and let the kids remain with their stepmother during Dad’s ordered parenting time during his deployment.
The reasoning behind this decision is that a fit parent is assumed to be acting in their kids’ best interests. So, because Dad was a fit parent and wanted the kids to spend his parenting time with stepmother, then the Colorado courts supported his decision.
In DePalma, Dad was only asking that stepmother could exercise his parenting time with the kids for him while he was gone. He was not requesting that stepmother have her own parental rights to the kids, nor was he requesting any additional time for the kids and stepmother outside of the time he was granted in the parenting orders.