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Name: In re Kayla W. (2023) 97 Cal.App.5th 99
Case #: B326119
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 2 DCA
Division: 3
Opinion Date: 10/25/2023
Subsequent History: Ordered published 11/14/2023
Summary

Mother’s failure to object to California’s exercise of jurisdiction waived the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) issue. Minor was removed from Mother during a trip to California. Mother was born in California but had been living in Nevada for the prior 18 months with the father of Minor’s younger siblings. At the detention hearing, the juvenile court reported that it had conferred with Nevada authorities and that court would not assert jurisdiction if Minor was placed with maternal grandfather. At the jurisdiction hearing, which the Nevada court attended telephonically, the Nevada court relinquished jurisdiction after being assured that Minor would be placed with maternal grandfather, which Mother supported. After the reunification period was extended to 18 months, maternal grandfather no longer wanted to adopt Minor and she was placed with another caregiver in an adoptive placement. Mother appealed the termination of her parental rights and the Court of Appeal affirmed. Mother forfeited the UCCJEA issue for failure to object below. The present case can be distinguished from In re L.C. (2023) 90 Cal.App.5th 728 (no forfeiture for failure to raise UCCJEA jurisdiction below) because in In re L.C. that court never addressed the UCCJEA at all. Here, the juvenile court consulted Nevada, which declined to exercise jurisdiction without objection from Mother. Mother then continued to accede to jurisdiction during the pendency of the case and only objected for the first time after the termination order.

Nevada could not impose a jurisdictional condition precedent and the California court was not required to consult with the Nevada court when Minor was removed from maternal grandfather’s care. Subject matter jurisdiction is established at the commencement of the proceedings. Once jurisdiction is established, the UCCJEA ensures that only one state has jurisdiction to make child custody decisions at any time. Thus, once the Nevada court ceded jurisdiction and the California juvenile court made a child custody determination, the California court obtained exclusive, continuing jurisdiction and the Nevada court could not condition that jurisdiction on the continuing placement with maternal grandfather. Removal of Minor from maternal grandfather was not a “proceeding” as contemplated by Family Code section 3429. Mother never asked the court to cede jurisdiction back to Nevada when Minor was removed from paternal grandfather. Further, Family Code section 3422 was not applicable because Minor continued to live in, and have significant connection with, California.

The full opinion is available on the court’s website here: https://www.courts.ca.gov/opinions/documents/B326119.PDF