Significant Connections and No Home State, CA Can Retain Jurisdiction of Child

Mother [M] was the adoptive mother of Daughter [D] (born in 1993), Son 1 [S1] (born in 2002) and Son 2 [S2] (born in 2013).  S2 is the biological child of D.

M, S1 and S2 travelled in a van throughout the western United States during the children’s entire lives.  They lived in the van and did not attend school – even though M said she was home schooling them.  (Apparently, she was lying.)

By 2019, M had been investigated by local family services agencies numerous times in Montana, Washington, and California.  However, she and her sons would leave the states before the agencies could get jurisdiction of the sons.

During this time, many instances occurred that would question M’s sanity.  She believed on May 27, 2020, “Christ was going to send fire from heaven in the form of a cross.”  She was delusional believing that King Louis V was her father and that Donald Trump, Michelle Obama, and Queen Elizabeth communicated with her via satellites.  She was also physically abusing the boys.  At one point, according to D1, while driving, with D2 in the van, M closed her eyes and drove the car into a ditch.  Again, according to D1, M said someone was talking to her through a satellite and was controlling her hands.  Later, while staying at a motel she contacted the Los Angeles Police Department claiming there was a bomb at the hotel.  The LAPD cleared the hotel and did not find a bomb.

At a stop in Los Angeles, S1 contacted authorities about their situation.  The Los Angeles Department of Child and Family Services [DCFS] investigated and took the boys into protective custody.  DCFS petitioned the juvenile court to assert temporary jurisdiction over the boys.   At the hearing, M represented herself.  She agreed with DCFS that there were no open cases in any state.  She asked that the matter be dismissed because there was no evidence against her.  The court found that California (thus DCFS) had jurisdiction over the boys.  The DCFS petition was granted, but the court did give M monitored visitation.

At a later hearing, M argued that California did not have jurisdiction over her or the boys, because they were not residents of the state.  The juvenile court rejected her argument and M appealed.

The Appellate Court agreed that the juvenile court correctly asserted jurisdiction under California Family Code Section 3421 (2):  A court of another state does not have jurisdiction under paragraph (1), or a court of the home state of the child has declined to exercise jurisdiction on the grounds that this state is the more appropriate forum and Section 3421 (2) (A)  The child and the child’s parents, or the child and at least one parent or a person acting as a parent, have a significant connection with this state other than mere physical presence.

The Appellate Court stated: “Beginning over a year before the proceedings began, the mother and Ari lived in various parts of the state: San Luis Obispo County in March and September of 2019, Franklin County in early June 2020, and San Bernardino County in mid-June 2020. When the proceedings began, the mother’s stated intent was to continue traveling within California with Ari. The mother’s land ownership and litigation in the state also demonstrate her connections to California. The several referrals about the family within the state provide evidence of Ari’s care and protection. Genesis, who had extensive information about Ari, lived in California when the proceedings began, according to the mother. Ample information showed the mother’s and Ari’s significant connections to California and the availability of evidence about Ari in California.”

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