In re Parentage of C.R. (Kansas 2022)

No. 124,696 (KS. Ct. App. 2022)
September 2022

When faced with competing paternity presumptions, the court must decide which presumption is based on weightier considerations of policy and logic. This child had two potential legal fathers, P.R. and J.P. P.R. agreed to have his name on the child’s birth certificate, knowing that he wasn’t the child’s biological father. J.P. was the child’s biological father. An initial paternity order named P.R. the child’s legal father. Several years later, J.P. filed to intervene claiming he hadn’t received notice of the initial paternity action. The trial court set aside the initial paternity order and declared J.P. the child’s legal father. P.R. appealed. The appellate court affirmed in part and reversed in part. The trial court properly set aside its initial paternity order for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The parents knew J.P. was the child’s biological father and he should have been made a party to the action. Therefore, the order was void. The appellate court agreed both fathers were presumptive fathers. The trial court didn’t apply the correct legal standard to the competing presumptions. In finding J.P. the child’s legal father, the trial court assumed the initial paternity order was valid, which it wasn’t. Instead, the trial court should have determined which presumption was weightier based on considerations of policy and logic, including the best interests of the child.