Additionally, the legislatures of Delaware,114 District of Columbia,115
Indiana,116 and Kentucky117 have established such a doctrine through
Washington defined the psychological parent, in its adoption
of the de facto parent doctrine, as the person who has a parent-like
relationship based on day-to-day interaction, companionship, and
shared experiences of the child and adult.118 While Washington’s
dependency statutes do not include psychological parent within the
definition of legal parent, the statutes do allow individuals who meet
the definition of psychological parent to intervene in dependency
The Alaska Supreme Court, in their adoption of the de facto
parent doctrine, also clearly defined a psychological parent:
[O]ne who, on a day-to-day basis, through interaction,
companionship, interplay, and mutuality, fulfills a
child’s psychological needs for an adult. This adult
114 DEL. CODE ANN. tit. 13, § 8-201 (West 2013).
115 D.C. CODE § 16-831.01 (2013).
116 IND. CODE ANN. §§ 31-17-2-8, 31-17-2-8.5 (West 2013) (outlining the
threshold requirements for de facto parent status); see also In re Guardianship of
Stackhouse, 538 N.E.2d 990, 992 (Ind. Ct. App. 1989) (awarding step-grandmother who effectively became child’s mother, rather than grandfather,
custody of orphaned four-year-old child).
117 KY. REV. STAT. ANN. § 403.270 (West 2012) (defining “de facto custodian” as
a “person who has been shown by clear and convincing evidence to have been the
primary caregiver for, and financial supporter of, a child who has resided with the
person for a period of six (6) months or more if the child is under three (3) years of
age and for a period of one (1) year or more if the child is three (3) years of age or
older or has been placed by the Department for Community Based Services” and
granting the de facto custodian the same standing in custody matters that is given
to each natural parent).
118 See In re Parentage of L.B., 122 P.3d at 177 .
119 See In re Parentage of J.A.B., 191 P.3d 71, 75-76 (Wash. Ct. App. 2008); In re
Dependency of M.R., 899 P.2d 1286, 1287 (Wash. Ct. App. 1995) (stating that
psychological parent does not fit within the definition of “parent” under
Washington’s statute governing dependency proceedings, but the trial court may
allow a psychological parent to intervene). But see In re Dependency of J.H., 815
P.2d 1380, 1386 (Wash. 1991) (en banc) (stating that foster parents who allege
they are psychological parents have no right to intervene).