Monday, April 16, 2012

Guardianship Placement May Lead to Change in Home-State of Child.

D.T. and S.T. v. C.M., 2011 UT App 407, Utah Court of Appeals December 1, 2011

Parents of 2 children had given voluntary custody and guardianship of the minor child to their older daughter, Sister.  Sister refused to return the child, and Parents moved the Court to terminate the voluntary guardianship.  The Court granted the motion.  Sister then obtained a protective order on behalf of the minor child and petitioned the Court to terminate parents’ parental rights based on Father’s sexual abuse of Sister and the minor child, and Mother’s facilitation of the abuse.  Parents moved to dismiss the petition to terminate their rights because Tennessee was the child’s home state.  The juvenile court found that, in spite of parents’ argument, Utah was the home state, but was an inconvenient forum.  Tennessee declined jurisdiction.  District Court denied the Motion to Dismiss and terminated Parents’ parental rights.  Parents appealed.

The Court of Appeals found that Utah Sister’s did not engage unjustifiable in conduct by retaining custody of the minor child.  Instead, Utah had jurisdiction because the child resided in Utah from April 2007 until November 2007 at the allowance of Parents.  The Court of Appeals also found that there is no violation of due process in excluding the parties from the jurisdictional conversation in the Court-to Court conversation.   Affirmed.

Full opinion available at

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