In re Parentage of MF (Kansas 2022)

2022 Kan. App. Unpub. LEXIS 650 (Kan. Ct. App. 2022)
December 2022

In this ongoing parentage case, the Kansas Court of Appeals upheld a district court’s determination that a birth parent successfully rebutted a presumption of the appellant’s parentage. The case was heard on remand from the Kansas Supreme Court, who sent it back for the district court to apply the proper parentage test. First, the party who wishes to be declared a legal parent must satisfy one of the statutory presumptions in K.S.A. 23-2208(a). If the presumption is established, then the other party must rebut it by clear and convincing evidence, by court decree establishing paternity of someone else, or an application of the test for competing presumptions. If the presumption is rebutted, the burden shifts back to the other party to prove the existence of a parent-child relationship by a preponderance of the evidence. This appeal hinges on the second prong of the test. Both parties agreed to presumption was established. The district court found the birth mother rebutted the presumption and the appellant disagreed. An appellate court reviews the evidence presented in a light most favorable to the prevailing party to ensure it supports the outcome. It doesn’t reweigh it. Applying this standard, the appellate court found the birth mother presented evidence sufficient to rebut the presumption. The burden then shifted to the appellant to prove the existence of a parent-child relationship. This had to go above and beyond the initial presumption. The appellate court acknowledged both parties presented evidence and the evidence was conflicting. It found the district court appropriately found the birth mother’s evidence more credible.