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Summary Regarding Arizona’s Definition of "Parent" P 59 V. The "Effects and Consequences" of Utilizing the Alternative Definition of Parent P 97 A. n7 Unless the person was a grandparent or great-grandparent requesting visitation, the legislature provided that such persons must be "in loco parentis." Id. As to any person other than a grandparent or great-grandparent, the person must show they are in loco parentis regardless of whether they are seeking custody or visitation. 8 of 22 DOCUMENTS JANETTE RAE SMITH RIEPE, Petitioner-Appellant, v. 1 CA-CV 03-0184 COURT OF APPEALS OF ARIZONA, DIVISION ONE, DEPARTMENT B 208 Ariz. During this time, Mother also was involved with Cody and paid child support to Father. After holding an evidentiary hearing on Stepmother’s petition and [***4] reviewing memoranda from both parties, the superior court found that Stepmother had failed to carry her burden of proving that she stood in loco parentis to the child. P10 Section 25-415(G)(1) does not require a person seeking in loco parentis visitation to establish that he or she has a parental relationship with a child that replaces that child’s relationship with a legal parent. Thus, as Mother acknowledged in oral argument before this court, the superior court can grant in loco parentis visitation to a petitioning party even if the child maintains a meaningful parental relationship with his or her legal parents. Second, awarding in loco parentis visitation against a parent’s wishes does not eliminate that parent’s rights. The person filing the petition stands in loco parentis to the child. It would be significantly detrimental to the child to remain or be placed in the custody of either of the child’s living legal parents who wish to retain or obtain custody. A court of competent jurisdiction has not entered or approved an order concerning the child’s custody within one year before the person filed a petition pursuant to this section, unless there is reason to believe the child’s present environment may seriously endanger the child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health. One of the following applies: (a) One of the legal parents is deceased. “In loco parentis” means a person who has been treated as a parent by the child and who has formed a meaningful parental relationship with the [***25] child for a substantial period of time. “Legal parent” means a biological or adoptive parent whose parental rights have not been terminated. The majority misconstrues the in loco parentis statute (“ILP statute”) n6 by utilizing an alternative definition of “parent” that judicially unhinges the ties of number and gender that pertain to that term. S.”) section 25-415 (2000) is referred to throughout this dissent as the ILP statute. All evidence shows that Stepmother was a very loving and involved person in Cody’s life during the time she was with Father. Because Mother and Father fulfilled the rights and obligations of parents to Cody before Father’s death, Mother contends that Stepmother could not have “stood in the place” of either parent. This court looks to commonly used definitions [***8] of statutory terms only when the legislature has not ascribed a particular meaning to such terms. Here, because the legislature has provided a definition of in loco parentis in § 25-415(G)(1), we must look no further than that definition when deciding what is required to establish in loco parentis status. Assuming that the remaining factors set forth in § 25-415(C) are satisfied, including a finding that visitation is in the child’s best interests, the court can order reasonable visitation. The court shall summarily deny a petition unless it finds that the petitioner by the pleadings established that all of the following are true: [**345] 1. P25 My view of this matter is much closer to that of the trial judge’s than it is to that of my colleagues. If the court decides that Stepmother has achieved this status, the court must then consider whether Stepmother should have reasonable visitation rights after applying the factors set forth in A. P13 In light of our conclusion that the court incorrectly interpreted [***11] and applied § 25-415(G)(1), we need not decide whether the court properly assessed the evidence using the incorrect definition of in loco parentis. [**316] [*94] Response to the Dissent P14 Our dissenting colleague asserts that we “unhinge the ties of gender and number contained within Arizona’s definition of the term ‘parent,'” P 127, infra, in an attempt to “judicially accommodate[]” step-relationships, P 152, infra. The Dissent’s concerns about the social ramifications of this provision are more appropriately raised to the legislature.

C., By Philip (Jay) Mc Carthy, Jr., Attorneys for Petitioner-Appellant. Brennan Flagstaff, Attorney for Respondent-Appellee. For the reasons that follow, we hold that § 25-415(C) authorizes the court to award reasonable visitation under such circumstances if the factors set forth in that provision are otherwise satisfied. DISCUSSION P6 Stepmother first argues that the superior court incorrectly interpreted A. Section 25-415(C) authorizes the court to grant reasonable visitation rights to “a person who stands in loco parentis to a child” upon a finding, among others, that visitation is in the child’s best interests. § 1-211(B) (“Statutes shall be liberally construed to effect their objects and to promote justice.”). [***21] P23 In sum, the Dissent errs by both equating parents with persons who stand in loco parentis to a child, and by imposing number and gender restrictions on obtaining in loco parentis visitation that are not supported by the language or legislative history of § 25-415. BARKER, Judge[EDITOR’S NOTE: The page numbers of this document may appear to be out of sequence; however, this pagination accurately reflects the pagination of the original published document.] [**344contd] Appendix § 25-415.

He further contends that we promote same-sex parenting and polyamory, PP 97-104, infra, impinge marriage, PP 99-106, infra, circumvent the democratic process, PP 112-15, infra, and violate the constitutional rights of legal parents to parent their children, PP 116-19, infra. However, we are compelled to apply well-established principles of statutory construction to reveal the fallacy of the Dissent’s interpretation of § 25-415. § 25-415 creates additional parents for a child, which are unlimited in number and gender combinations. According to the Dissent, because a child can only have one mother and one father, a third party cannot obtain in loco parentis status unless that person serves as a same-gender substitute for one of the child’s parents. The Dissent mistakenly blurs the concepts of “parent” and “in loco parentis” and imposes limitations on in loco parentis visitation that are not supported by § 25-415.

With due respect to our colleague, today’s decision is not born of our invention but instead stems from the language and purpose of A. P15 [***12] The Dissent’s arguments are based on the erroneous notion that our interpretation of A. P16 First, the Dissent contravenes established principles of statutory interpretation by construing the term “parent” without considering the context of its usage in § 25-415.

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.

If the court then decides that Stepmother does not stand in loco parentis with Cody, it must deny the petition. § 25-415(C), including whether visitation would be in Cody’s best interests.

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