In the Interest of C.T.G

Colorado Court of Appeals — February 8, 2007
No. 05CA0783. In the Interest of C.T.G., Upon the Petition of P.G. and T.L.W., and Concerning K.R.W.
Jefferson County District Court No. 05DR70

Honorable Margie L. Enquist, Judge

P.G. (father) and T.L.W. (mother) (collectively, the parents) appeal from the trial court’s orders denying their request to terminate the parenting time awarded to K.R.W. (stepfather) for their minor child, C.T.G. They also appeal from the trial court’s award of attorney fees to stepfather. We reverse the order related to stepfather’s parenting time and the order awarding him attorney fees, and we remand with directions
The salient facts are undisputed. In 1997, while mother and stepfather were married and living in Minnesota, she had intimate relations with father and became pregnant. C.T.G. was born on August 12, 1998. In 1999, mother and father learned father and not stepfather was the biological father of the child. However, stepfather was not informed of this fact until 2001, when father filed a paternity action and tests were conducted. By that time the child was three years old.

In 2002, the Minnesota court decreed that father was the biological father and awarded joint legal custody of C.T.G. to father and mother, with sole physical custody to mother. The court’s order also provided that stepfather would have visitation “on an interim basis to be established by the parties and a guardian ad litem pending further agreement or court orders.”

In 2003, the marriage between mother and stepfather was dissolved. Mother and father were then living together with the child, and they relocated to Colorado and later married. Thereafter, stepfather traveled to Colorado one weekend per month to visit the child
Permanent orders establish parental rights that stay in effect until one party establishes a change in circumstances sufficient to support a modification. Temporary orders regarding parenting time and decision-making responsibility are intended to determine those matters pending final orders, and they do not carry res judicata effect. In re Marriage of Fickling, 100 P.3d 571 (Colo. App. 2004).

In this case, the Minnesota court fully adjudicated the issue of paternity and awarded joint custody of C.T.G. to the parents. However, the parenting time awarded to stepfather specifically stated that it was to occur according to an “interim” schedule, that the court and the parties were unable to set a permanent schedule because of mother and father’s anticipated relocation, and that the existing schedule which had been established in conjunction with a guardian ad litem would remain in effect. The Minnesota court thus recognized the need for future changes in the visitation schedule because of the parents’ anticipated relocation. See Johnson v. Johnson, 223 Minn. 420, 428, 27 N.W.2d 289, 293-94 (1947) (recognizing that orders affecting …We therefore conclude that the Minnesota paternity decree operated as a final order and permanent allocation as to paternity and custody, but that its award of parenting time to stepfather was a temporary order


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