In the Matter of the Parentage of A.K. (Kansas 2022)
When there are two competing presumptions of paternity, the court must determine which presumption if founded on the weightier consideration of policy and logic, including the best interests of the child. This child in this case has two possible legal parents, A.M., who was in a relationship with the child’s mother at the time of the child’s birth, and Q.K., a stepparent. A.M., by her actions, notoriously recognized parentage at the time of the child’s birth. Q.K. was a presumptive parent because he married the child’s mother and added his name to the child’s birth certificate as her father. The district weighted a variety of factors to determine parentage including the child’s relationship with a sibling, a history of domestic violence between the mother and A.M., Q.K’s financial support of the child, and others. The final order found Q.K. to be the child’s legal parent. A.M. appealed. She argued Q.K. couldn’t be a presumptive parent because his intent to be a parent didn’t exist at the time of the child’s birth. The appellate court found the plain language of the presumption that applied to Q.K. didn’t include a time limit. The appellate court recognized A.M.’s presumption was in place long before Q.K.’s and found the timing of the presumption is a factor to consider. The trial court followed the proper procedure to weigh the presumptions and the appellate court found no error in its analysis. A.M. also argued the Kansas Parentage Act violated her right to equal protection. The appellate court found no merit in this argument. She wasn’t precluded from establishing a presumption. The presumptions are of equal importance.