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Specifically, in deciding whether Stepmother stands in loco parentis with Cody, the court should consider only whether Cody views Stepmother as a parent, and whether they have formed a meaningful parental relationship, which has endured for a substantial period of time.

While he may use the term “mom” to show affection and to give value to his relationship with [Stepmother], the Court is not persuaded that this is indicia that he views [Stepmother] as mother in the same sense that he views his natural mother. However, based upon the evidence presented, the Court cannot [***5] factually conclude that she stood in loco parentis to Cody as defined by A. The court further concluded that although Cody called Stepmother “mom,” this reference did not indicate that he viewed Stepmother “as mother in the same sense that he views his natural mother. The Dissent mistakenly assumes that “treated as a parent” and “parental relationship” are synonymous with “parent.” But by choosing to authorize visitation for persons “treated as a parent,” the legislature plainly intended § 25-415(C) to apply to non-parent visitation. P17 Our conclusion is underscored by the fact that the legislature authorized in loco parentis visitation even when the child has two legal parents, each with attendant parental rights. Such visitation is not dependent on a finding that the child does not or did not enjoy a meaningful and healthy relationship with one or both legal parents, as suggested by the Dissent. By contrast, in order to obtain in loco parentis custody, a petitioning party must establish, among other things, that it would be “significantly detrimental to the child to remain or be placed in the [***15] custody of either of the child’s living legal parents who wish to retain or obtain custody.” A. n3 The Dissent takes issue with this view, stating, without authority, that “no legal parent can fully exercise ‘parental rights’ to the child when an [in loco parentis] parent . One of the legal parents is deceased or has been missing at least three months. The child’s legal parents are not married to each other at the time the petition is filed. There is a pending proceeding for dissolution of marriage or for legal separation of the legal parents at the time the petition is filed. A grandparent, [***24] a great-grandparent or a person who stands in loco parentis to a child may bring a proceeding for visitation rights with a child by filing a verified petition in the county in which the child is permanently resident or is found. Notice of a custody or visitation proceeding filed pursuant to this section shall be served pursuant to the rules of civil procedure to all of the following: 1. n1 A “legal parent” is “a biological or adoptive parent whose parental rights have not been terminated.” A. She fed Cody, was involved in his classroom, and cared for him both before and after she married Father. Relying on dictionary definitions of “in loco parentis,” she asserts that § 25-415(G)(1) required Stepmother to show that she stood “in the place of” a natural parent in order to receive visitation rights. 468, 470 n.3, 671 P.2d 909, 911 n.3 (1983) (acknowledging that unless legislature clearly expresses intent to give term a special meaning, court gives words used in statutes their plain and ordinary meaning, which can be gleaned from dictionaries). Notice shall include a copy of the petition and any affidavits. PRIOR HISTORY: Appeal from the Superior Court in Coconino County. Mother had parenting time every other weekend, one evening a week, and extended time over school vacations. Father and Cody moved in with Stepmother and her three sons in January 2000. Tragically, Father died in a traffic accident in [***3] November 2001. One of Stepmother’s sons and Cody attended the same school, and she transported them to and from school. We are not bound by the court’s conclusions of law “that combine both fact and law when there is an error as to the law.” Lee Dev. P8 Mother counters that the court correctly interpreted § 25-415(G)(1) to require Stepmother to show that her relationship with Cody was the same as or superior to his [**315] [*93] relationship with Mother and Father. Neither the definition of “in loco parentis” nor the criteria for obtaining visitation rights requires that the petitioning party be of a different gender than a legal parent. The legislature did not constrain the court’s discretion by imposing additional limitations [**318] [*96] relating to gender or the quality of the child’s relationship with his legal parents, and the Dissent errs by seeking to impose such constraints. [***19] P22 Finally, the fallacy of our dissenting colleague’s position is further revealed by an examination of the effects and consequences of his view of § 25-415(C). The petitioner shall provide notice as required by subsection e. P26 Because I write at some length, the following Table of Contents is provided. [**314] [*92] P4 After Father died, Cody began living with Mother. Specifically, the court found as follows: [Stepmother] has shown that she was a caring and supportive step-parent and that Cody did bond to her. Similarly, the petitioning party need not show that his or her relationship with the child is superior to the child’s relationship with one or both legal parents. With these principles in mind, we turn to the superior court’s application of § 25-415(G)(1) in its ruling. (b) The child’s legal parents are not married to each other at the time the petition is filed. A person or agency that has physical custody of the child or that claims to have custody or visitation rights. Any other person or agency that has previously appeared in the action. A person shall file proceedings for custody or visitation under this chapter in the same action in which the legal parents had their marriage dissolved or any other proceeding in which a previous custody order has been entered regarding the child. For the reasons that follow, I respectfully dissent. Mother did not allow contact between Stepmother and Cody, and Stepmother therefore filed a petition for in loco parentis visitation pursuant to A. However, throughout Cody’s and [Stepmother’s] relationship, and while Cody’s father was alive, Cody’s natural mother and father fulfilled the rights and responsibilities of, parents while [Stepmother] played a supportive role to her husband[‘s] role of father to Cody. The court therefore denied the petition and this appeal followed. Rather, to establish in loco parentis status, a non-parent must prove that the child (1) treated that person as a parent and (2) formed a meaningful parental relationship with that person for a substantial period [***9] of time. P11 The superior court found that Stepmother failed to prove both that Cody had treated her as a parent and that she had formed a meaningful parental relationship with Cody for a substantial period of time. so that no part of the statute will be void, inert, redundant, or trivial.'”). § 25-415(C)(2), (3) (authorizing visitation when in child’s best interests and legal parents are either not married to each other or are in process of dissolving marriage); § 25-415(G)(2) (recognizing that legal parents have “parental rights”). [**317] [*95] P18 In short, by crafting its definition of “in loco parentis,” the legislature did not require a showing that the child substituted the petitioning party for a legal parent. First, § 25-415 authorizes in loco parentis custody or visitation under appropriate circumstances when a child has one or both legal parents, who are defined as biological or adoptive parents “whose parental rights have not been terminated.” A. (c) There is a pending proceeding for dissolution of marriage or for legal [***23] separation of the legal parents at the time the petition is filed. If a person other than a child’s legal parent is seeking custody there is a rebuttable presumption that it is in the child’s best interest to award custody to a legal parent because of the physical, psychological and emotional needs of the child to be reared by the child’s legal parent.

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