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Name: In re S.W.
Case #: F051032
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 03/28/2007

California had jurisdiction to terminate parental rights where mother was living in a van in California after leaving her home state of Nebraska. Mother was living in a van with her boyfriend, in front of the boyfriend’s mother’s house in California. The two minors were sleeping in the house. The family’s home state was Nebraska, but mother left Nebraska to come to California when she feared that the Department of Social Services was going to detain the minors, and also to join her boyfriend, who returned to California due to his parole status. During the dependency proceedings, mother returned to Nebraska, but maintained contact with the children, who were in foster care in California. Following termination of her parental rights, mother appealed, contending that the California juvenile court did not have jurisdiction to terminate her parental rights. The appellate court disagreed. Mother had been living in the van for several months, and had applied for welfare in California. The fact that she was living in a van demonstrated her unstable lifestyle, not that her residence was somewhere other than California at the time the proceedings were commenced. There was no evidence to support a conclusion that mother was on a temporary visit. The evidence showed that mother and the children were living in California, and therefore California had jurisdiction to terminate parental rights. Mother also argued that California should not have exercised jurisdiction because California was an inconvenient forum and Nebraska was the more appropriate forum. Since this issue was not raised below, it cannot be raised for the first time on appeal.