California Court of Appeals, Second District, First Division
from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County,
No. BZ175229 Armando Duron, Judge. Reversed.
Dean Schneider for Appellant Jennifer D.
appearance for Plaintiff and Respondent County of Los
appearance for Defendant and Respondent Christopher W.
appearance for Defendant and Respondent Colin K.
ROTHSCHILD, P. J.
W. is the biological father of M.D. The mother of M.D. is
Jennifer D. (Mother). Christopher and Mother never married
and their personal relationship ended soon after Mother
became pregnant with M.D. While Mother was pregnant, she
began a dating relationship with Colin K. After M.D. was
born, Colin posted pictures of himself with M.D. on his page
on the Internet Website Facebook, along with messages
implying that he is M.D.'s father. When M.D. was two
years old, Colin moved in with Mother and M.D.
County of Los Angeles (the County), acting through its Child
Support Services Department, commenced an action against
Christopher to establish his paternity and his obligation to
provide child support for M.D. (Fam. Code, §§
17400, 17404.) Christopher successfully moved to join
Colin as a party in the action and asserted that Colin, not
he, is M.D.'s father, pursuant to section 7611,
subdivision (d). The County, Mother, and Colin disagreed.
an evidentiary hearing, the court determined that Colin is
M.D.'s father, and Christopher is not. After the entry of
judgment, Mother appealed. For the reasons discussed below,
we reverse the judgment.
and Christopher had a relationship that ended in 2013. About
two months later, Mother informed Christopher that she was
pregnant and that he was the father. They were never married
and never lived together.
December 2013, while Mother was pregnant, Mother and Colin
began dating. Mother was then living alone in a condominium.
Colin lived and worked as a supervisor in a sober living
house where visitors (including Mother) were not allowed. In
light of their relationship and Mother's pregnancy, some
people teased Colin about becoming “a daddy.”
was born in May 2014. Christopher went to the hospital on the
day M.D. was born and held him briefly. While Christopher was
at the hospital, he saw a sign that read “Congrats
Colin & Jennifer.” Mother asked Christopher if he
was going to sign M.D.'s birth certificate, and he said
he would not. The birth certificate does not identify anyone
as M.D.'s father.
spent time with Mother at the hospital before and after
M.D.'s birth, and drove her and M.D. to Mother's home
when they left the hospital. During the first two years of
M.D.'s life, Colin visited Mother about once a week for
about an hour and a half. Colin never stayed with Mother
overnight during that time.
interacted with M.D. three times. The first was when he held
M.D. in the hospital on the day he was born. The second time
occurred in a restaurant shortly after M.D.'s birth. The
third time took place in late 2014 or early 2015, when he
spent about an hour with M.D. while Mother and Colin went out
to dinner. Mother eventually told Christopher that she did
not want him to be involved in M.D.'s life and, for that
reason (according to Christopher), Christopher did not
provide any financial support for M.D. or visit him.
2016, when M.D. was about two years old, Colin and Mother
(along with M.D.) “got a place together.” Colin
paid for his “own stuff, ” and did not support
M.D. financially. Colin would hold M.D., play and watch
television with him, care for him when Mother was not home,
and discipline him. M.D. refers to Colin as both
“Colin” and “Daddy.”
is not listed as M.D.'s father on M.D.'s or
Mother's medical records, and he has not included him as
a dependent on his health insurance. He accompanied Mother
during M.D.'s pediatric visits, but ...