May 25, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: Time Frame for Appeal of Paternity Determination Arises from C.A.R. 4

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People in Interest of N.S. on Thursday, January 12, 2017.

Dependency and Neglect— Juvenile Court Jurisdiction—Paternity Adjudication.

The El Paso County Department of Human Services (the Department) filed a dependency and neglect petition on behalf of N.S. The mother’s boyfriend was listed as respondent-father, and the child was placed with him. At a pretrial conference, the juvenile court found that the boyfriend had not been adjudicated the child’s legal father and therefore ordered genetic paternity testing. The juvenile court adjudicated N.S. dependent and neglected. The Department subsequently amended the petition to list A.C. as respondent-father. A.C. was confirmed to be the biological father through genetic paternity testing. Following a paternity hearing, the juvenile court adjudicated A.C. as the child’s legal father.

Boyfriend appealed and the Colorado Court of Appeals issued an order to show cause why his appeal should not be dismissed pursuant to the time frames of C.A.R. 3.4(b)(1). Boyfriend responded that his appeal was governed by C.A.R. 4(a). The court ordered the parties to brief (1) whether the notice of appeal was due within 21 days of the date of the final, appealable order under C.A.R. 3.4; and (2) whether the juvenile court had jurisdiction to issue the judgment of paternity in a dependency and neglect proceeding.

The court first concluded that the plain language of C.A.R. 3.4 shows that the rule does not apply to paternity actions. C.A.R. 4 does not list specific orders that are appealable, and in the absence of any limiting language, its 49-day time frame applied.

The court then stated that the juvenile court has exclusive original jurisdiction in dependency and neglect proceedings to determine parentage. But when a paternity issue arises in these proceedings, the juvenile court must follow the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) procedures. Here, both presumptive fathers were parties to the proceeding, had actual notice that a legal finding of paternity was necessary, and did not object to the juvenile court deciding the matter. Accordingly, the juvenile court had subject matter jurisdiction under the UPA.

The judgment was affirmed.

Summary provided courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

Colorado Court of Appeals: District Court Lacked Jurisdiction to Determine Paternity in Dependency and Neglect Action

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People in Interest of J.G.C. on Thursday, December 5, 2013.

Dependency and Neglect—Subject Matter Jurisdiction for Paternity Determination.

The Logan County Department of Social Services (LCDSS) filed a petition in dependency and neglect and a motion seeking temporary custody of a child who had been born eight days earlier. LCDSS identified J.C.H. as the child’s father because his name was on the birth certificate, but alleged that he might not be the biological father. Paternity tests were ordered, and results showed that J.C.H. was not the biological father. LCDSS then filed a motion to dismiss J.C.H. from the petition, which the trial court granted.

On its own motion, the Court of Appeals considered whether the district court had subject matter jurisdiction to make a paternity determination, and ruled that it did not. Colorado’s Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) vests exclusive original jurisdiction in parentage proceedings in the juvenile court. However, a paternity proceeding “may be joined with an action in another court of competent jurisdiction for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, declaration of invalidity of marriage, or support.” When a paternity action arises in a non-paternity proceeding, as here, the court must follow the procedures outlined in the UPA.

The UPA provides that before paternity can be determined, each man presumed to be the father and each man alleged to be the natural father must be made a party to the action, or given notice and an opportunity to be heard. Here, an alleged father had been identified by mother and therefore his joinder was required. Because the record did not show that he was given legal notice that a paternity determination was being sought and he was made a party to the proceeding only after J.C.H.’s dismissal, the Court concluded that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to decide the issue of paternity. The order dismissing J.C.H. from the petition therefore was void. The dismissal order was vacated and the case was remanded.

In anticipation of an issue that might be raised on remand, the Court addressed J.C.H.’s contention that the trial court erred in dismissing him based on the genetic test results. Under the UPA, a presumption of fatherhood may arise from several sets of circumstances. Here, the claim was based on J.C.H.’s acknowledgment of paternity on the birth certificate. His acknowledgment that he was not the biological father did not rebut this presumption, and there was no such evidence at the time he was dismissed from the case.

Summary and full case available here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: Action to Establish Paternity Must Be Brought Prior to Child’s 18th Birthday

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in In re Parental Responsibilities of I.M. on Wednesday, July 3, 2013.

Paternity—Statute of Limitations.

In this paternity action, Rebecca A. McKenzie (mother) appealed the order granting judgment on the pleadings in favor of Mark A. Russo (Russo), which held that her action to determine the existence of a father–child relationship with I.M. was barred by the statute of limitations. The order was affirmed.

I.M. was born on October 2, 1992. Russo and mother were not married. On March 11, 2011, mother, as next friend, sought to establish paternity under CRS § 19-4-105(1)(d). Russo responded that because I.M. was over age 18, mother’s action was barred by the statute of limitations under CRS § 19-4-108. The trial court granted Russo’s motion for judgment on the pleadings because the action was barred by the statute of limitations. Mother appealed.

Mother argued that the trial court should have considered CRS § 19-4-107(1) and (2), which allow her to bring an action “at any time.” The Court of Appeals disagreed. The Court held that CRS § 19-4-107(1) is inapplicable because the prerequisite allegation that Russo and mother were married or attempted to marry was not made. CRS § 19-4-107(2) allows an action to be brought at any time for the purpose of determining the existence of the father–child relationship presumed under CRS § 19-4-105(1)(d). However, CRS § 19-4-108 requires such an action be brought before a child’s 18th birthday.

The Court denied Russo’s request for an award of appellate attorney fees under CRS §§ 13-17-102(4) and 19-4-117. The order was affirmed.

Summary and full case available here.

Colorado Court of Appeals: District Court Lacked Subject Matter Jurisdiction in Paternity Action Because Each Presumed and Natural Father Not Given Notice

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in In re the Support of E.K., and Concerning the People on Thursday, June 20, 2013.

Paternity—Subject Matter Jurisdiction—Parties—Notice.

In this paternity action, P.W.K. (obligor) appealed the district court’s judgment adopting a magistrate’s order that established his paternity of three children, E.K., J.K., and P.K. The judgment was vacated and the case was remanded with directions.

Obligor did not dispute that he was P.K.’s biological parent. Genetic-testing results excluded obligor as the biological parent of E.K. and J.K. Mother identified by name the separate biological fathers for E.K. and J.K., and she testified that each biological father had met his respective child. The magistrate adjudicated obligor the parent of the three children, incorrectly stating in her written order that obligor had admitted that he was their parent, and ordered him to pay child support and the costs of genetic testing.

The Court of Appeals considered on its own motion whether the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction in this matter. A district court lacks jurisdiction to resolve matters in a paternity action unless each man presumed to be the children’s father and each man alleged to be the children’s natural father are made parties to or given notice of the action. Because the alleged biological fathers of E.K. and J.K. were not made parties to or given notice of this paternity action, the judgment was vacated for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The case was remanded to the district court for further proceedings in compliance with the Uniform Parentage Act.

Summary and full case available here.