Justia Family Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Kansas Supreme Court
In re Parentage of R.R.
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court ruling that R.R.'s best interests would be served as naming T.R. the legal father, holding that the district court did not misapply the Kansas Parentage Act (KPA), Kan. Stat. Ann. 23-2201 et seq. in this case.Under the KPA, when competing statutory presumptions of parentage exist based on genetics, adoption, and other circumstances, the court is to decide parentage based on the presumption yielding "the weightier considerations of policy and logic, including the best interests of the child." T.T. sought paternity rights to R.R., his biological son who was conceived and born to Mother during her marriage to T.R. The district court held that T.R. had the weightier presumption and that the relevant factors weighed in favor of T.R. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the district court applied the correct legal standard; and (2) the district court properly weighed the parties' competing presumptions of paternity by following the KPA's statutory scheme and the guidance set forth in Greer v. Greer, 324 P.3d 310 (Kan. 2014). View "In re Parentage of R.R." on Justia Law
In re Marriage of Shafer
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals panel reversing the ruling of the district court denying Lisa Webster's request to clarify an order made during her divorce proceedings that she receive a share of Jon's Army Reserve and National Guard retirement pay based on the months of their marriage, holding that the relief from judgment statute, Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-260, was not applicable.When Jon retired about fifteen laters following the parties' divorce Lisa submitted the court's division order to the federal office administering Jon's retirement benefits, but the office told Lisa that it needed more detail to calculate Lisa's share. Lisa filed a motion seeking clarification of the order, which the district court denied. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that the division order was not a final judgment subject to the dormancy statute. The Supreme Court affirmed on different grounds, holding (1) the division order was a final judgment subject to the dormancy statute; and (2) section 60-260 was not applicable because Lisa's request for clarification did not require substantive change to the original property division. View "In re Marriage of Shafer" on Justia Law
In re Marriage of Holliday
In this action involving a district court's division of Jon Holliday's retirement account in a divorce proceeding with Tamara Holliday the Supreme Court held that Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-2403(c)'s tolling provision prevents a divorce decree dividing the parties' interests in a retirement account with the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System (KPERS) from becoming dormant until benefits become payable to the plan member.In 2009, Jon and Tamara divorced. The district court divided Jon's not-year-payable retirement account with KPERS equally between them and directed Tamara to prepare a qualified domestic relations order to "effectuate" the division. In 2021, Jon brought this action claiming that Tamara's judgment from the divorce had gone dormant because she had not sent a copy of it to KPERS as instructed and requesting that the court extinguish Tamara's interest in the account. The district court denied relief, but the court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Kan. Stat. Ann. 60-2403(c) tolled the dormancy period until Jon's benefits from his KPERS account became payable. View "In re Marriage of Holliday" on Justia Law
In re Common-Law Marriage of Heidkamp & Ritter
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court and confirmed the existence of a common-law marriage between Margaret Heidkamp and Edward Ritter, holding that the district court's findings were supported by substantial competent evidence and that the court properly applied the rules.After Ritter died at the age of sixty-seven, Heidkamp filed a petition to declare relationship as common-law spouse. After a hearing, the district court concluded that Ritter and Heidkamp "were in a valid common-law marriage under the statute and common law of Kansas as of September 8, 2003" and that the relationship continued until Ritter's death. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the evidence supported the conclusion that the components necessary to establish a common-law marriage existed in the relationship between Ritter and Heidkamp. View "In re Common-Law Marriage of Heidkamp & Ritter" on Justia Law
In re N.E.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals dismissing Appellant's appeal from the denial of her request for custody of N.E., holding that the doctrine of stare decisis warranted this Court's continued adherence to In re N.A.C., 329 P.3d 458 (Kan. 2014), under which an order terminating parental rights is the last appealable order under Kan. Stat. Ann. 38-2273(a), and post-termination orders are not appealable, even if they address custody.Child-in-need-of-care proceedings began when the State took protective custody of N.E. and ended when N.E. was adopted by her foster family. Appellant, N.E.'s grandmother, sought custody of N.E. during the proceedings and appealed the district court's denial of her request. The court of appeals dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. The Supreme Court affirmed and dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction, holding that section 38-2273(a), as construed under In re N.A.C., barred appellate review of each of the district court orders from which Appellant appealed. View "In re N.E." on Justia Law
In re L.L.
The Supreme Court dismissed Grandparents' appeal in this case involving a parentage issue and the enforceability of a "co-parenting agreement," holding that the current posture of this case left Grandparents without standing in their personal capacities.Grandparents, as next friends of L.L. and in their personal capacities, filed a petition for determination of paternity and grandparent rights and seeking joint custody of L.L. The district court found that it had jurisdiction of L.L., Grandparents, and Mother and concluded (1) joint legal custody is only between parents and not between a parent and grandparents, and (2) the purported co-parenting agreement did not fit within grandparent visitation rights. The Supreme Court dismissed Grandparents' appeal, holding that Grandparents lost standing when this appeal narrowed down to their personal claim. View "In re L.L." on Justia Law
Chalmers v. Burrough
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court dismissing for lack of jurisdiction this case in which Father moved to modify a child support order, holding that the district court had subject matter jurisdiction.Father attempted to register the child support order in this case from Florida in a Kansas district court. Father further moved to modify the amount of the order. The district court imposed a temporary modification order. When it was discovered that Father had failed to include the Florida order with his registration materials, the court voided the registration and modification and dismissed the case, concluding that it never had jurisdiction to modify the order. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Father's failure to properly register his order had no effect on the district court's subject matter jurisdiction. View "Chalmers v. Burrough" on Justia Law
State ex rel. Secretary, Department for Children & Families v. M.R.B.
The Supreme Court reversed the opinion of the court of appeals panel reversing the decision of the district court denying Father's motion to modify residential custody of his daughter, J.F., holding that the panel's decision presented plain error by making its own factual findings after reweighing the evidence and reaching the conclusion of which parent should have residential custody.In 2012, Father filed a motion for temporary order of parenting time alongside a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity. The district court awarded joint legal custody to the parents, primary residency with Mother, and reasonable parenting time with Father. In 2017, Father moved to modify residential custody of J.F., arguing that J.F. should live with him in Pennsylvania rather than in Kansas with Mother. The district court denied the motion. The court of appeals panel reversed after finding error with two of the district court's findings. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the panel reweighed the evidence and made its own factual findings upon which it found the district court abused its discretion; and (2) even in light of the holding that the district court erred in concluding that Mother would be financially unable to exercise parenting time out of state, the panel's remedy of a custody change was inappropriate. View "State ex rel. Secretary, Department for Children & Families v. M.R.B." on Justia Law
Carman v. Harris
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the district court's denial of Mother's request seeking to order Father to pay half of her expenses for prenatal medical care and the birth of the parties' child, holding that the district court lacked the authority to grant relief.A hearing officer found Father was the child's father and ordered him to pay monthly child support. Mother later filed a request for expenses asking that Father pay half of her prenatal medical and child birth expenses. The district court denied the request. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court's authority to award prenatal care and birth expenses expired before Mother sought reimbursement. View "Carman v. Harris" on Justia Law
In re F.C.
The Supreme Court affirmed the adjudication decision of the district court finding F.C. to be a child in need of care (CINC) under Kan. Stat. Ann. 38-2202(d)(2), which focuses on whether the child lacks necessary care or control, and Kan. Stat. Ann. 38-2202(d)(3), which focuses on whether the child has been abused or neglected, holding that the State proved F.C. was a CINC.On appeal, the court of appeals held that there was insufficient evidence that F.C.'s mother or stepfather inflicted emotional harm and that the State failed to establish that F.C. had been emotionally abused under section 38-2202. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) section 38-2202(d)(2) limits the trial court's focus only to the present circumstances at the time of the adjudication hearing; and (2) there was clear and convincing evidence to show that F.C. had been subjected to emotional abuse by her stepfather, as that term is defined under subsection (d)(3). View "In re F.C." on Justia Law