April 19, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: Birth-Related Costs May Be Sought by Mother in Connection with Action to Determine Paternity

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in In re the Parental Responsibilities Concerning G.E.R., and Concerning Terrell on September 15, 2011.

Petition for Paternity—Uniform Parentage Act—Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act—Recovery of Birth-Related Costs.

Mother appealed from the district court’s judgment adopting a magistrate’s order that dismissed her petition for paternity. The judgment was vacated and the case was remanded with directions.

Mother and father are natural parents of a child, G.E.R., born out of wedlock. In November 2009, mother petitioned for allocation of parental responsibilities under the Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act (UDMA) and for child support. The magistrate entered a child support order and determined the allocation of parental responsibilities.

In June 2010, mother moved for modification of child support and filed a petition for paternity under the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA), seeking birth-related costs, court costs, and attorney fees. In her brief, mother contended that paternity was not an issue. In a minute order, the magistrate dismissed mother’s petition for paternity, finding that there was no question of paternity. Mother petitioned for district court review and the court adopted the magistrate’s order. Mother appealed.

The issue on appeal was whether the magistrate could consider a request for birth-related costs under § 19-4-116 of the UPA after it had determined the allocation of parental responsibilities and awarded child support under the UDMA. The Court of Appeals held it could and therefore dismissal was error.

Under mother’s UDMA action for allocation of parental responsibilities, mother’s birth-related costs could not be awarded as a debt of the marriage because the parties were never married. To recover those costs, mother was required to file a petition for paternity under the UPA. Such an action under § 19-4-107(1)(a) may be brought at any time. Therefore, mother was not precluded from seeking birth-related costs in connection with an action to determine paternity under the UPA, even if father’s paternity was uncontested in the action for allocation of parental responsibilities under the UDMA. The Court also awarded mother attorney fees under § 19-4-117, because it is mandatory.

This summary is published here courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer. Other summaries for the Colorado Court of Appeals on September 15, 2011, can be found here.

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