Justia Family Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Kansas Supreme Court
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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court concluding that Mother's voluntary relinquishment of her child under Kan. Stat. Ann. 38-2268 was a legally authorized adjudication of Mother's parental rights, holding that Mother's relinquishment of parental rights was effective to terminate her parental rights.One of the primary issues on appeal was whether formal written acceptance by the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) is required in order for a parent's relinquishment of parental rights to DCF to be valid. The Supreme Court held (1) there was substantial, competence evidence to support a finding that Mother's relinquishment of parental rights to her child was valid, knowingly made, and effective to terminate her parental rights; and (2) Mother was afforded the procedural due process to which she was entitled. View "In re P.R." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held in this case, as in In re M.F., 312 Kan. __ (this day decided), that the same-sex romantic partner of a woman who conceives through artificial insemination and gives birth during the couple's relationship can be recognized as a legal parent under the Kansas Parentage Act (KPA) even if the couple has not entered into a coparenting agreement.M.S., the same-sex partner here, sought judicial recognition of her legal parentage relationship with the child. The district court judge denied parentage of M.S. A panel of the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that M.S. can be recognized as a legal parent through use of Kan. Stat. Ann. 23-2208(a)(4) if M.S. can demonstrate that she notoriously recognized her maternity and the rights and duties attendant to it at the time of the child's birth. View "In re W.L. " on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that the same-sex romantic partner of a woman who conceives through artificial insemination and gives birth during the couple's relationship can be recognized as a legal parent under the Kansas Parentage Act (KPA) when the birth mother has consented to shared parenting at the time of the child's birth.K.L., the same-sex partner in this case, sought judicial recognition of her legal parentage relationship with the child. The district court judge ruled that K.L. had no parental rights. A panel of the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that K.L. can be recognized as a legal parent through use of Kan. Stat. Ann. 23-2208(a)(4) if K.L. can demonstrate that she notoriously recognized her maternity and the rights and duties attendant to it at the time of the child's birth. View "In re M.F." on Justia Law

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In this appeal from the termination of Father's parental rights consequent to an adoption, the Supreme Court affirmed the opinion of the court of appeals affirming the termination, holding that the district court correctly terminated Father's parental rights and that Father's constitutional challenge to Kan. Stat. Ann. 59-2136 was not preserved for review.In his petition for review, Father challenged the factual basis for the termination order and also challenged, for the first time, the constitutionality of Kan. Stat. Ann. 59-2136(h)(1)(D), on which the termination was based. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) this Court declines to address the constitutional issue because it was raised neither in the district court nor in the court of appeals; and (2) the court of appeals correctly upheld the district court's finding that Father failed to support the mother during the last six months of her pregnancy without reasonable cause excusing the lack of support. View "In re Adoption of Baby Girl G." on Justia Law