In re the Marriage of Cari Amanda Gross, n/k/a Cari Amanda Rohrich, Appellant, and Michael David Gross, Appellee
Chaffee County District Court No. 07DR75. Honorable Charles
M. Barton, Judge.
Roca Rothgerber, LLP, Kenneth F. Rossman, IV, Denver,
Colorado, for Appellant.
David Gross, Pro se.
[¶1] In this post-dissolution of marriage
child support dispute, Cari Amanda Gross, now known as Cari
Amanda Rohrich (mother), appeals from the district
court's order terminating the child support obligation of
Michael David Gross (father) as of the date the parties had
agreed that he would seek to relinquish his parental rights
to permit the parties' two children to be adopted by
mother's new husband. We conclude that the court erred in
finding that the agreement for father to relinquish his
parental rights retroactively ended his duty to support his
children. We further conclude that the court erred in
applying section 14-10-122(5), C.R.S. 2015, to these
circumstances because no change in father's physical care
for the children occurred. We reverse the district
court's order and remand the case for further
[¶2] Mother's and father's marriage
ended in 2008. Parenting time for their two children was
allocated equally between them on an alternating weekly
basis, and father was ordered to pay mother $101 in monthly
child support. In 2012, mother sought and was granted
permission to relocate with the children to South Dakota with
her husband. Father's monthly child support obligation
was thereafter increased to $288.
[¶3] After the county child support
enforcement unit moved in 2013 to again modify father's
child support obligation, the parties mediated and reached an
agreement that father would relinquish his parental rights
and the children would be adopted by mother's husband.
[¶4] In November 2013, father petitioned the
juvenile court under section 19-5-103, C.R.S. 2015, to
relinquish his parental rights. His petition was granted
May 22, 2014. In June 2014, he moved in the dissolution court
to terminate his child support obligation as of the date the
parties had agreed that he would pursue relinquishment.
[¶5] The district court granted father's
motion and terminated his child support obligation as of July
29, 2013, the date mother had indicated she would accept his
proposal to relinquish his parental rights. The court relied
on section 14-10-122(5) and ruled that father's
parent-child relationship effectively ended, and mother took
sole physical care of the children, when the parties agreed
to pursue the relinquishment and adoption scenario.
Contentions on Appeal
[¶6] Mother raises primarily two arguments
for reversal of the district court's order. First, she
contends the court erred in finding that father was "
effectively no longer a parent" as of the date he and
mother agreed that he would relinquish his rights, and that
as a nonparent, he had no duty to support the children from
the date of the relinquishment agreement. Specifically,
mother argues that father's nonparent status, and the
termination of his duty of support, must be determined under
section 19-5-104(5), C.R.S. 2015, of the Colorado
Children's Code, which provides that the final
relinquishment order divests the relinquishing parent of
legal rights and obligations with respect to a child. Second,
and alternatively, she contends that the district court erred
in retroactively terminating father's child support
payments under section 14-10-122(5) of the Uniform
Dissolution of Marriage Act (UDMA).
[¶7] To the extent the district court found
that father became a nonparent at any point before the final
relinquishment order was entered, we agree that the court
erred in doing so. As to mother's second contention, we
further conclude that the court erred by applying section
14-10-122(5) under these circumstances. Accordingly, we
reverse the order and remand the case for the court to
recalculate the amount of father's child support