This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

After a custody battle that sprawled over two states and nine years, Robert Manzanares has been granted a victory by a Colorado court.

Manzanares has been allocated parental responsibility — Colorado's equivalent of sole custody — of his daughter nine years after his ex-girlfriend put the child up for adoption without telling him.

Denver Juvenile Court Presiding Judge Brett Wood's April 28 ruling granted Manzanares the authority over all major decision-making, and he has agreed that the child can continue school in Utah, where she lives with her aunt and uncle — the biological mother's brother and sister-in-law, said attorney Michael Cheroutes Jr.

"One of the things I like about Rob is, first of all, the lengths he has gone to," Cheroutes said. An appellate court decision called Manzanares' efforts "epic."

"Not the type of language you usually hear in appellate courts," Cheroutes said.

The case started in 2008, when Manzanares filed a paternity petition in Denver a month before his daughter was born. The biological mother, Carie Morelock, went to Utah, where she gave birth prematurely. Without telling either Manzanares or the Colorado judicial system, she gave her parental rights to her brother and sister-in-law, Scott and Julissa Byington. Manzanares was unaware that the child had been born in Utah, according to court documents, until several days after Morelock consented to the adoption.

Manzanares won an appellate court decision in 2013 on the argument that focused on whether the "nonparent" Byingtons had standing to seek a custody decision.

The case was sent back to the trial court, where the judge decided the Byingtons should not be considered, and Manzanares won in a hearing between him and Morelock.

Cheroutes said Friday that he expects an appeal, but he said he is optimistic that Manzanares will win.

Between the Colorado filing and rulings, Manzanares pursued legal avenues in Utah, where his lawsuit said the state's "pro-adoption and anti-birth-father laws" had enabled Morelock and the Byingtons to conspire to keep him in the dark.

The Utah Supreme Court ruled in January 2012 that Manzanares had been improperly denied a say in the infant's adoption, and the case went back to a lower court, which then agreed it should be transferred back to Colorado.

Twitter: @tiffany_mf

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