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People in the Interest of K.L.W.

2021 COA 56. No. 20CA1387. Presumption of Parentage—Three Legal Parents—Dependency and Neglect—Uniform Parentage Act.

April 22, 2021


The juvenile court adjudicated the children dependent and neglected in relation to mother. It also entered a default adjudicatory and treatment plan order for the biological father. C.L.F., who helped care for the children, filed a motion to declare herself the children’s mother instead of recognizing father as the children’s legal parent. The court determined that C.L.F. was a presumptive parent because she had held the children out as her own and father was a presumptive parent because genetic tests established that he was the children’s biological parent. However, the court concluded that it was unable to recognize more than two legal parents for the children, and after making further findings, it ultimately declared father the children’s legal parent.

C.L.F. appealed the parentage determination, arguing that the juvenile court erred by holding that children could not have more than two legal parents. Colorado’s Uniform Parentage Act does not allow a court to recognize more than two legal parents for a child. Therefore, the juvenile court properly determined that it was unable to name both C.L.F. and father as the children’s legal parents in addition to mother.

C.L.F. also argued that the juvenile court erred by declaring father as the legal parent because the court failed to consider the children’s best interests. Here, the juvenile court gave extensive consideration to the children’s relationships and attachment to each of the presumptive parents, so it properly considered the child’s best interests.

C.L.F. also argued that the juvenile court erred by concluding that policy and logic did not support declaring her the legal parent. However, the court properly considered the appropriate factors under CRS § 19-4-105(2)(a) in weighing the conflicting parentage presumptions.

C.L.F. further argued that the juvenile court erred by failing to apply the preponderance of evidence standard when weighing the competing parentage presumptions. Here, the court applied the clear and convincing standard of proof. While this was the wrong standard, given that father prevailed under the higher standard of proof, he would also have prevailed under the lower applicable preponderance of the evidence standard. Accordingly, reversal of the parentage judgment is not required.

The judgment was affirmed.

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

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