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People in the Interest of G.C.M.M.

2020 COA 152. No. 19CA2326. Paternity—Jurisdiction—Child Custody—Allocation of Parental Responsibilities—Temporary Injunction—Uniform Parentage Act—Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.

October 29, 2020

Father initiated a paternity proceeding in Colorado under the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) concerning an unborn child. He sought a determination that he was the child’s father and an allocation of parental responsibilities. A magistrate issued a paternity judgment declaring father the child’s parent. When father initiated the proceedings, he and mother lived in Colorado, but before the child’s birth, mother moved to New Hampshire, where the child was born.

The parents stipulated to a parenting plan, which the magistrate adopted. A permanent orders hearing was scheduled, but before the hearing, mother moved to dismiss the action based on lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the child had lived in New Hampshire since birth. Mother also initiated a child custody proceeding in New Hampshire. The New Hampshire court stayed its proceeding pending resolution of the jurisdictional dispute in Colorado.

The Colorado magistrate determined that Colorado retained jurisdiction. Mother sought review of the magistrate’s order by a juvenile court judge, who determined that the magistrate had jurisdiction to determine paternity but not to make a child custody determination. The court also concluded that the UPA provides no authority to restrain a pregnant mother from leaving the state. Accordingly, the court (1) affirmed the paternity judgment, (2) denied mother’s request to dismiss the case, and (3) vacated the temporary custody order and directed the magistrate to confer with the New Hampshire court in accordance with the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA).

On appeal, father argued that the UCCJEA does not limit the Colorado court’s jurisdiction to make a custody determination in a paternity case. He contended that the UPA confers broader jurisdiction to make custody determinations than the UCCJEA because the UPA permits a juvenile court to acquire jurisdiction when a paternity action is initiated before a child’s birth. However, the UPA contains no provision authorizing a court to make a custody determination or an allocation of parental responsibilities concerning an unborn child. Further, the UCCJEA provisions governing initial child custody determinations provide the exclusive jurisdictional basis for making a child custody determination by a Colorado court, and the UCCJEA does not provide a jurisdictional basis for a child custody determination concerning an unborn child. Accordingly, the juvenile court lacked jurisdiction under the UCCJEA.

Father also contended that the juvenile court erred by addressing whether mother had violated the temporary injunction because that issue was not part of the magistrate’s ruling and was unnecessary to address the jurisdictional determination. Once a paternity proceeding is initiated, under CRS § 19-4-105.5(5)(c)(I)(B) a temporary injunction goes into effect restraining each parent from removing from the state a child who is the subject of the proceeding. Here, mother presented this issue to the juvenile court in her motion for review. Therefore, the juvenile court properly reviewed that aspect of the magistrate’s ruling.

The judgment was affirmed.

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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