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Name: In re R.L.
Case #: D069729
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 1
Opinion Date: 10/14/2009

A brief stay in a hospital incident to birth by itself is insufficient to confer home state jurisdiction over child. Father appealed the orders terminating his parental rights, contending that all orders starting at the jurisdictional and dispositional orders had to be reversed because the juvenile court did not have home state jurisdiction under the UCCJEA. The minor was born in a hospital in San Diego County. Her mother was a United States citizen but did not have a permanent residence prior to the minor’s birth. She alternated her time between Mexico and Nevada, but had been primarily living in Mexico prior to the minor’s birth. Father is a Mexican national who could not legally enter the United States. During the dependency proceedings, both parents became incarcerated in California. The appellate court held that the juvenile court erred when it determined that California was the minor’s home state under Family Code section 3421, subdivision (a). A temporary hospital stay in a state incident to birth, by itself, is insufficient to confer home state jurisdiction under the UCCJEA. Nor does a social services agency become a “person acting as a parent” for purposes of home state jurisdiction because it detains a child in protective custody. The error, however, was harmless. The juvenile court had emergency jurisdiction because the minor was present in California and it was necessary to protect her from mistreatment. Father also contended that he did not receive notice of the proceedings consistent with the Hague Convention. The appellate court rejected that argument as well, finding that the record was clear that the Agency diligently tried to locate father from the time of detention. Also, because father eventually submitted to the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, the Hague Convention requirements did not apply.