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Name: In re E.R.
Case #: B288376
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 6
Opinion Date: 10/10/2018

Where California mother was in Nevada only to give birth and Nevada court declined to exercise jurisdiction and transferred the case to California, there was proper subject matter jurisdiction in California for the proceedings. Mother gave birth to twins in Nevada, who tested positive for amphetamines. DFS filed a dependency petition in Nevada which alleged that mother lives in California and came to Nevada to “sign her kids over to her cousin.” Mother’s parental rights to two siblings had been terminated previously in California. The Nevada court sustained the petition and removed the minors. Nevada then declined to exercise further jurisdiction, holding that California was to take jurisdiction because the parents only came to Nevada to give birth, and then return to California; both had pending criminal cases in California, and California had agreed to take the case. The case was transferred to California, where HSA filed juvenile dependency petitions. The minors were removed, services bypassed, and a .26 hearing was set. The court subsequently found the minors adoptable and terminated parental rights. On appeal, parents contended the California court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the minors. The appellate court rejected the argument. The Nevada court expressly found that it was declining jurisdiction in favor of the California court. That authorized the California court to take jurisdiction even though the minors were born in Nevada. Both the Nevada and California courts agreed that California was the proper forum. The California court recently resolved a case regarding the minors’ half-siblings, it was familiar with the family, and the parents and their extended families lived in California. Although the court rejected the jurisdiction argument, it reversed the orders and remanded for the juvenile court to interview the great-grandmother about possible Indian heritage and determine if ICWA applies.