In the Interest of KLW and JLW (Colorado 2021)
The Colorado Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) does not allow for a child to have more than two legal parents. When there are two competing unrebutted presumptions, the court must decide which presumption controls based on the weightier considerations of policy and logic. The children in this case had three possible parents: their mother, CLF, who was in a relationship with their mother, and their biological father. The children were removed from their mother in a dependency and neglect action. CLF filed a motion to declare her as the mother of the children. Following a hearing, the juvenile court named the biological father as the legal parent, and CLF appealed. The appellate court upheld the decision. The plain language of the UPA in Colorado requires the court determine which presumption controls. The effect is that in Colorado, a child can only have two legal parents. Other jurisdictions may allow more than two parents but the statutes in these jurisdictions address this possibility. CLF argued the holding out presumption was stronger and she should have been named the children’s legal parent. The appellate court found no merit to this argument. The juvenile court findings reflected a consideration of the children’s best interests even if the specific words weren’t used. CLF argued the juvenile court applied the wrong standard to the evidence. The appellate court acknowledged this error but found no cause for reversal.