In New York, however, the psychological parent may be
awarded the same rights as a legal parent from the onset of child
abuse and neglect proceedings if the psychological parent qualifies
as the “respondent” in the case.126 A New York statute broadly
defines a “respondent” as “any parent or other person legally
responsible for the child’s care who is alleged to have abused or
neglected the child.”127 The term “person legally responsible” is
defined as any individual regularly or continually in the household
who has assumed the parenting role.128 Depending on the specific
facts of each case, courts have found the legally responsible person
to be individuals, such as a parent’s cohabitant or boyfriend,129 or an
or legal custodian” only); WASH. REV. CODE ANN. §§ 26.44.115, 26.44.120 (West
2013) (providing notice requirements for “parents” and “noncustodial parent”
when child is taken into protective custody); see also People in Interest of C.P. v.
F.P., 524 P.2d 316, 319 (Colo. App. 1974) (stating that the court at dispositional
stage need not give notice to or consider rights of relatives seeking custody if no
timely application is made and that joinder of grandmother as “party” to
proceedings at disposition is proper when petitioner is seeking custody). See
generally John W. Ellis, Comment, Yours, Mine, Ours?—Why the Texas
Legislature Should Simplify Caretaker Consent Capabilities for Minor Children
and the Implications of the Addition of Chapter 34 to the Texas Family Code, 42
TEX. TECH. L. REV. 987 (2010) (discussing Texas’ legislative amendments to
expand informal caregiver authority, including standing to file suit affecting the
parent-child relationship). See generally Lawrence Schlam, Children “Not in the
Physical Custody of One of [Their] Parents:” The Superior Rights Doctrine and
Third-Party Standing Under the Uniform Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage
Act, 24 S. ILL. U. L.J. 405 (2000) (discussing generally superior rights doctrine and
the obstacles to third party standing for psychological parents in child custody
proceedings in Illinois and several states).
126 See N.Y. FAM. CT. ACT § 1023 (McKinney 2013) (providing notice for “person
legally responsible” that temporary protective order would be sought and
preliminary hearing held); N. Y. FAM. CT. ACT § 1033-b (McKinney 2013)
(providing for advisement and right to court-appointed attorney for indigent
respondents at initial hearing).
127 See N.Y. FAM. CT. ACT § 1012(a) (McKinney 2013).
128 See N.Y. FAM. CT. ACT § 1012(g) (defining “person legally responsible” as the
person who has assumed the parenting role who may be found in the household
continually or at regular intervals).
129 See In re Mikayla U., 699 N.Y.S.2d 145, 146 (App. Div. 1999).