People in Interest of G.C.M.M., 2020 COA 152

In this case, the Court of Appeals considered the interplay between the jurisdictional provisions of the Uniform Parentage Act (UPA) §§ 19-4-101-130, C.R.S. 2019 and the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) §§ 14-13-101-403, C.R.S. 2019. The child was conceived in Colorado but born in another state. A juvenile court magistrate determined that it had jurisdiction to determine custody. On a petition to review the magistrate’s order, the juvenile court determined that while the court had jurisdiction under the UPA to determine parentage, the court lacked jurisdiction to make a child-custody determination. The father appealed the juvenile court’s judgment vacating the custody order for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, arguing that the juvenile court could make a custody determination because its jurisdiction over this proceeding was established before the child’s birth.

The Court of Appeals reached the opposite conclusion from the father, holding that while a paternity proceeding under the UPA may be initiated before a child’s birth and the juvenile court had jurisdiction to determine parentage and child support under the UPA, the juvenile court did not have subject matter jurisdiction to determine custody because a court must also have jurisdiction under the UCCJEA before it can make a child custody determination. The court affirmed the juvenile court’s lack of jurisdiction determination because the UCCJEA does not provide a basis for jurisdiction over an unborn child and the UPA does not expressly authorize a court to make a child-custody determination before a child is born.

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