BY THE COURT
United States and Kansas Constitutions provide substantive
protection for a parent when he or she has assumed parental
duties. But when a parent has not accepted some measure of
responsibility for his or her child's future, the law
will not protect that parent's mere biological
relationship with the child.
responsibility to support a person's child does not
commence at birth. A father has an affirmative duty under
Kansas law to provide support to the pregnant mother.
Kansas adoption statutes allow a district court to terminate
a father's parental rights when the father, "after
having knowledge of the pregnancy, failed without reasonable
cause to provide support for the mother during the six months
prior to the child's birth." K.S.A. 2018 Supp.
party seeking to terminate a person's parental rights has
the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that
termination is appropriate under K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 59-2136.
Clear and convincing evidence is a standard of proof-or
confidence in the facts-sufficient for a fact-finder to
believe that the truth of the facts asserted is highly
probable. Appellate courts reviewing a termination decision
must determine whether, after reviewing all the evidence in
the light most favorable to the prevailing party, a rational
fact-finder could have found the determination to be highly
K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 59-2136 draws no distinction between
parents who are minors and parents who are over the age of 18
when establishing the parameters of a district court's
analysis. Instead, K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 59-2136(h)(2)(A) directs
a court faced with a petition to terminate a person's
parental rights to "consider all of the relevant
surrounding circumstances"-including, inter
alia, his or her age, earning power, and any support the
appellate court does not reweigh conflicting evidence,
reassess witnesses' credibility, or redetermine questions
a court concludes it is appropriate to terminate a
person's parental rights under K.S.A. 2018 Supp.
59-2136(h)(1)(D), it need not consider whether termination
would have been warranted under a different circumstance
listed in K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 59-2136(h)(1).
from Shawnee District Court; Evelyn Z. Wilson, judge.
Works, of Topeka, for appellant natural father.
K. Vincent, of Topeka, for appellees adoptive parents.
Arnold-Burger, C.J., Bruns and Warner, JJ.
Kansas law, the parental rights of a natural father opposing
an adoption can be terminated if the parties seeking the
termination prove by clear and convincing evidence that the
father, "after having knowledge of the pregnancy, failed
without reasonable cause to provide support for the mother
during the six months prior to the child's birth."
K.S.A. 2018 Supp. 59-2136(h)(1)(D). At issue here is whether
a father who was a minor at the start of a pregnancy but
turned 18 before the child's birth provided support for
the pregnant mother within the meaning of this statute.
March 2018, prospective adoptive parents petitioned the
district court for temporary custody and eventual adoption of
C.S., a child born in December 2017. C.S.'s Mother was 16
years old when she gave birth; C.S.'s Father turned 18
years old five months into the pregnancy. Mother consented to
the adoption, but Father did not. The prospective adoptive
parents therefore sought to terminate Father's parental
rights, alleging he failed to support Mother during the
pregnancy and after C.S.'s birth. After an evidentiary
hearing where the district court heard testimony from
numerous witnesses- including Mother and Father-the court
concluded Father had not provided meaningful support to
Mother during the six months before C.S.'s birth, granted
the petition, and terminated Father's parental rights.
appeals, arguing that the district court should have analyzed
the evidence differently since Father was a minor for a
portion of the pregnancy. Father also argues that the
district court did not give proper weight to his support
efforts, especially because Mother's family moved her to
Florida to live with a relative during the last two months of
the pregnancy. We conclude the district court analyzed the
evidence under the correct statutory framework and the
district court's factual findings are supported by the
record. As an appellate court, we do not second-guess the
district court's credibility assessments or reweigh the
evidence. Thus, we affirm the district court's
termination of Father's parental rights.
met Mother in late August 2016 while he was 17 years old and
a senior in high school. Mother had recently turned 15 years
old. Father and Mother became friends that fall and began to
be sexually active in early 2017. In March 2017, Mother
became pregnant-a fact she and Father learned in May or June
2017. Father was aware throughout the pregnancy and after the
child's birth that he was the child's father.
parents were divorced. Though she had previously lived with
her mom, that relationship was strained. Thus, in April 2017,
she moved in with her dad, where she continued to live until
October 2017. Father lived with his mom throughout the
pregnancy and after the child's birth.
summer after she learned she was pregnant, Mother spent most
of her waking hours at Father's mom's home with
Father. During this time, Mother and Father would watch
television, play video games, and have sex, sometimes more
than once per day. Mother would eat meals at the house (the
food having been ...