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Family Law and Divorce Case Law Review--March 31, 2014-April 4, 2014

In a slow week for published and unpublished decisions, only one case stood out, as it dealt with the issue of the rights of a psychological parent:

E.B.S. and G.S. v. K.M. and C.K. (Appellate Division, Unpublished, April 3, 2014): In this unpublished decision the Appellate Division affirmed the trial court's finding that the plaintiffs had become the psychological parent of the child whose custody was at issue over the objection of the defendant, the child's great-grandmother who had obtained custody via consent from her granddaughter when the child was born. The court reviewed the relevant four-prong test for finding a third party to be a psychological parent established in V.C. v. M.J.B., 163 N.J. 200, cert. denied, 531 U.S. 926, 121 S. Ct. 302, 148 L. Ed. 2d 243 (2000), which requires An individual to show, in proving that they have become the psychological parent of a child, that: (1) the legal parent consented to and fostered the relationship between the third party and the child; (2) the third party lived with the child; (3) the third party performed parental functions for the child to a significant degree; and (4) a parent-child bond has been forged. The Court stated that prong one was "critical because it makes the biological or adoptive parent a participant in the creation of the psychological parent's relationship with the child." The Court further noted that "the fourth prong is most important because it requires the existence of a parent-child bond. A necessary corollary is that the third party must have functioned as a parent for long enough time that such bond has developed."

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