The Colorado supreme court issued yet another opinion today that expands the rights of biological parents. It is probably more accurate to say that the Court affirmed the essentially unlimited rights of biological parents than to say that they expanded the rights, because the word “expanded” suggests that the biological parents’ rights were, at some time, limited. In the newest case, the supreme court concluded that fit biological parents who voluntarily placed their child under the guardianship of a third party were still entitled to claim the constitutional presumption that they act in their child’s best interests. Therefore, if the biological parents want to terminate the guardianship, there is a presumption that termination of the guardianship is in the children’s best interests, and the guardians bear the burden of proving otherwise.
The inherent logic of this opinion makes sense and is certainly consistent with existing law. What worries me is that we really have not seen much case law at all since the U.S. Supreme Court decided Troxel v. Granville suggesting that there is any limit to the rights of biological parents. Considering how many resources we devote to protecting children (even from their own parents), this is troubling. We seem to be approaching a point where only a dependency and neglect action will allow non-parents to intervene in a biological parent’s decisions regarding a minor child.