In re W.L., 119,536

CourtCourt of Appeals of Kansas
Writing for the CourtBruns, J.
Citation441 P.3d 495
Parties In the MATTER OF W.L. and G.L., by and Through Their Mother and Next Friend M.S., Appellant, and E.L., Appellee.
Docket NumberNo. 119,536,119,536
Decision Date19 April 2019

441 P.3d 495

In the MATTER OF W.L. and G.L., by and Through Their Mother and Next Friend M.S., Appellant,
E.L., Appellee.

No. 119,536

Court of Appeals of Kansas.

Opinion filed April 19, 2019.

Valerie L. Moore, of Lenexa, for appellant.

Adam M. Hall and Sarah E. Warner, of Thompson Warner, P.A., of Lawrence, for appellee.

Before Bruns, P.J., Schroeder and Gardner, JJ.

Bruns, J.:

441 P.3d 499

This appeal arises out of a Petition for Determination of Parentage filed by M.S. under the Kansas Parentage Act (KPA), K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 23-2201 et seq. In the petition, she alleged a parent-child relationship with two minor children, W.L. and G.L., who were conceived by artificial insemination. At the time the children were conceived as well as at the time of their birth, M.S. was in a same-sex relationship with the children's biological mother, E.L. The couple never married and never entered into a written agreement regarding parentage. Likewise, it is undisputed that M.S. is not a biological parent of the children nor did she adopt the children. Instead, M.S. contends that she "notoriously or in writing" recognized parentage of the children. See K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 23-2208(a)(4) and K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 23-2220.

After a two-day bench trial, the district court denied M.S.'s petition for parentage of W.L. and G.L. In doing so, the district court concluded that even if M.S. established by a preponderance of the evidence a presumption under the KPA, E.L. "has convinced the court by clear and convincing evidence that [M.S.] fails to meet the requisite criteria of a psychological, de facto, or functional parent." In particular, the district court found that there was no "meeting of the minds" between M.S. and E.L. regarding the parentage of the children. For the reasons stated in this opinion, we affirm the district court's determination of parentage.


M.S. and E.L. both grew up in Pittsburg. In the fall of 2011, the women reconnected as adults when they were both working at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City. In early 2012, M.S. and E.L. began a romantic relationship that lasted until the end of 2015. Although they lived together in a home in Olathe between February 2012 and January 2016, the couple never married or entered into a civil union.

While they were living together, M.S. and E.L. discussed how each of them would like to have children someday. In October of 2012, M.S. paid for a three-month membership to a sperm bank. The membership allowed

441 P.3d 500

the women to log on to a website and view the profiles of potential donors. When this three-month membership expired, E.L. paid for another membership to the sperm bank.

In early 2014, E.L. purchased eight vials of semen from a donor she chose through the sperm bank at a cost of $4,400. At trial, the parties presented conflicting evidence about whether M.S. repaid some of this expense. The parties also disputed the nature and extent of M.S.'s involvement in selecting the sperm donor. According to E.L., she made the final decision and chose the donor based on his personal statement and expressed family values. Moreover, E.L. testified that M.S. had incorrectly identified the donor during her testimony.

After undergoing two unsuccessful insemination attempts, E.L. became pregnant with twins in May 2014. The evidence in the record is conflicting regarding whether M.S. was present during the first two insemination attempts, but it appears that she was present for the third attempt. However, M.S. did not sign an insemination contract with the clinic. Likewise, M.S. was not present at E.L.'s medical visit in late June 2014 when she learned that she was pregnant with twins.

When E.L. found out that she was pregnant, she attempted to involve M.S. in her pregnancy. E.L. sent out a pregnancy announcement including both of their names and a photograph of both M.S. and E.L. The announcement indicated that the L.-S. twins would be arriving in January 2015. At a baby shower hosted by E.L.'s sisters, M.S. and E.L. opened the gifts together. During the pregnancy, M.S. attended some prenatal doctor's appointments with E.L. but not others. Unfortunately, E.L. had a difficult pregnancy—including late-term preeclampsia requiring several hospitalizations. Although E.L. described her social life as active before the pregnancy, she testified that her lifestyle "changed drastically" as soon as she found out she was pregnant.

Evidently, M.S. did not change her lifestyle while E.L. was pregnant and continued to party with friends. The night before E.L. gave birth, M.S. attended a Christmas party sponsored by her employer and then went to an "after party" at a friend's house. E.L.'s mother, who was staying with her, picked M.S. up from the after party and took E.L. with her to help locate the house. Even though E.L. was in pain and "in tears," M.S. had E.L.'s mother make an early morning stop at McDonald's on the way home. A few hours later, when E.L.'s water broke, M.S. was still drunk. E.L.'s mother drove both women to the hospital. While E.L. was in labor, she asked M.S. to "please, please scooch back a little bit" because M.S. still smelled of alcohol.

The children were born on December 20, 2014. Although M.S. was not listed as a parent on the birth certificate, E.L. requested that the last name of the children include M.S.'s last name. Evidently, this was not something that E.L. and M.S. had discussed beforehand. According to E.L., this was something she wanted to do so that M.S. would feel included. Over the next year, M.S. and E.L. lived together with the children. E.L. testified that during this time she made all of the major parenting decisions—including daycare, nutrition, and healthcare decisions. However, M.S. did contribute significantly to the household financially and helped to pay for daycare, healthcare, and various other expenses.

E.L. became concerned because M.S. did not change her lifestyle after the children were born. In May 2015, although the children were very sick, M.S. went out with a friend. In July 2015, M.S. called E.L. to say she had been in a car accident. E.L. took the children with her in the middle of the night to try to find M.S. After driving around for about an hour and a half, E.L. found M.S. after she spotted the flashing lights of a police car. M.S. was taken to jail and received a citation for DUI. In September 2015, several members of E.L.'s family visited the couple for the weekend. M.S. had been drinking heavily, and E.L. found her having sex with E.L.'s sister's boyfriend in the backyard. The children were in their bedroom sleeping at the time. The next morning, M.S. packed a bag and left for a week. After M.S. returned, E.L. said she tried to fix things and even went to a counselor, but she knew the relationship was irreparable because

441 P.3d 501

M.S. had also hurt several members of her immediate family.

In October 2015, E.L. decided to end her relationship with M.S. and began looking for a job in Pittsburg. In January 2016, E.L. moved to Pittsburg. About a month after the move, E.L. amended the children's birth certificates to include only her last name. As such, they are now known as W.L. and G.L. A month or two later, M.S. also moved to Pittsburg to live with her parents. During the transition, E.L. allowed M.S. to come by and see the boys whenever she was in town to see her parents. Beginning in June 2016, E.L. began allowing the children to stay overnight with M.S. at her parents' house in Pittsburg every other weekend. In January 2017, E.L. also began allowing M.S. to see the children once during the week.

According to E.L., M.S. continued to act in a manner that caused her concern. E.L. learned that M.S. had taken the children out of the state with M.S.'s new girlfriend without first asking her permission. Moreover, E.L. learned that M.S. had driven with the children in the car while she was intoxicated. M.S. had her girlfriend start the car for her by blowing into a mandatory interlock device installed after M.S.'s previous DUI. In addition, E.L. had concerns about M.S.'s interactions with the children while she was presenting symptoms of a strain of the herpes virus. It also appears that M.S. represented herself to medical staff as E.L.—including signing E.L.'s name and using her Social Security number—in order to receive healthcare for the children.

A year after E.L. moved to Pittsburg, she began dating C.H. In July 2017, E.L. and C.H. moved in together with the children. In January 2018, E.L. and C.H. were married. According to E.L., C.H. immediately established a good relationship with the children. After E.L. and C.H. were married, they consulted an attorney about the possibility of C.H. adopting the children.

In the late summer of 2017, M.S. texted E.L. and indicated that she was considering moving back to Kansas City. A meeting was setup with E.L., C.H., M.S., and M.S.'s girlfriend to discuss future visitation with W.L. and G.L. When M.S. asked E.L. about the possibility of becoming a guardian for the children, the conversation "went very south." Subsequently, E.L. sent an email to M.S. telling her that she did not think she understood her role. At that point, M.S. contacted a lawyer.


To continue reading

Request your trial
4 cases
  • In re W.L., No. 119,536
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • November 6, 2020
    ...ruled that the partner had no parental rights. A panel of our Court of Appeals affirmed that result. In re W.L. , 56 Kan. App. 2d 958, 441 P.3d 495 (2019). We accepted the partner's petition for review. We rule that such a partner can be recognized as a legal parent through use of K.S.A. 20......
  • McGregor v. McGregor, 123,657
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • December 30, 2021 interests that are immediate, real, and for which a court can provide conclusive relief." In re W.L., 56 Kan. App. 2d 958, 981, 441 P.3d 495 (2019), rev'd on other grounds 312 Kan. 367, 475 P.3d 338 (2020). A power of attorney terminates upon the death of the principal. K.S.A. 2020 Su......
  • McGregor v. McGregor, 123
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Kansas
    • December 30, 2021 interests that are immediate, real, and for which a court can provide conclusive relief." In re W.L., 56 Kan.App.2d 958, 981, 441 P.3d 495 (2019), rev'd on other grounds 312 Kan. 367, 475 P.3d 338 (2020). A power of attorney terminates upon the death of the principal. K.S.A. 2020 Supp......
  • In re Hult, Bar Docket No. 24854
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Kansas
    • June 6, 2019
    ...Hult be and he is hereby disbarred from the practice of law in Kansas, and his license and privilege to practice law are hereby revoked.441 P.3d 495 IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Clerk of the Appellate courts strike the name of Matthew Edgar Hult from the roll of attorneys licensed to prac......
1 books & journal articles
  • Review of the Year 2018-2019 in Family Law: Jurisdiction and Choice of Law Issues Abound
    • United States
    • ABA General Library Family Law Quarterly Nbr. 53-4, January 2020
    • January 1, 2020
    ...time, vacation time, and comp time have been earned 245. Springer v. Springer, 277 So. 3d 727 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2019). 246. In re W.L., 441 P.3d 495 (Kan. Ct. App. 2019). The Kansas Supreme Court heard an appeal in December 2019. 247. Thomas v. Joseph, 280 So. 3d 1107 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT