Father seeking custody wins appeals case

DENVER – A father who has been fighting for custody of his daughter has gotten a big victory in the Colorado Court of Appeals.

The court decided that Rob Manzanares, of New Mexico, should have full custody of his 7-year-old daughter who has been living with another family since she was illegally given up for adoption by her mother.

The case began in 2007, when Manzanares and his long-time girlfriend found out they'd have a baby. Worried that the woman would flee to Utah and have the baby there, Manzanares filed for parental rights in Colorado since the two lived in the state at the time. After a break-up, Manzanares' ex-girlfriend did, in fact, go to Utah to have the baby six weeks early. She gave that baby up for adoption to her brother and sister-in-law, while still playing a role in the child's life by acting as her "aunt."

The Utah Supreme Court ruled that the adoption was fraudulent. But a judge still gave the adoptive parents partial custody because the child had already spent about five years with her adoptive parents. Manzanares wasn't satisfied with that decision, especially since the child's adoption was deemed illegal. So he took his case to the Colorado Court of Appeals on August 11th.

"I will not stop fighting," Manzanares told 9NEWS on the day that his case was argued before the court of appeals. "I'll go to the Supreme Court if I have to."

He and his attorney are both pleased that the Colorado Court of Appeals sided with the father whose case has gotten interest from paternal rights groups across the country.

"There are great fathers out there," Manzanares' attorney Wes Hutchins said. "Their rights are deserving of being recognized just like the mother's rights."

Hutchins expected the court's decision to take one to two months. The process moved a lot more swiftly. But attorneys for the child's adoptive parents could also appeal the decision.

In its ruling the Colorado Court of Appeals found that Manzanares wasn't given the special consideration he should have had as the biological father with legally-filed parental rights.

"In sum, we conclude that the trial court misapplied the law," the opinion says, in part, of the Utah court's decision to award partial custody to the adoptive parents who got the child through what were ruled to be fraudulent means.

Under the partial custody agreement, Manzanares' daughter spent the summer with him at his home in New Mexico. He tells 9NEWS that he looks forward to the day when his daughter can live with him year-round.

(© 2015 KUSA)


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