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Hernandez v. Mayoral-Martinez

Court of Appeals of Michigan

July 23, 2019

JOSE GUARDALUPE HERNANDEZ, also known as JOSE GUADALUPE HERNANDEZ, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
VICTORIA MAYORAL-MARTINEZ, Defendant-Appellee.

         

          Kent Circuit Court. LC No. 18-009990-DC.

         COUNSEL:

          For JOSE GUARDALUPE HERNANDEZ, Plaintiff-Appellant: AMY GRAUMAN.

          For VICTORIA MAYORAL-MARTINEZ, Defendant-Appellee: MATTHEW S. DELANGE.

          Before: SAWYER, P.J., and BORRELLO and SHAPIRO, JJ.

           OPINION

         [329 Mich.App. 208] Douglas B. Shapiro, J.

         Plaintiff-father appeals the circuit court's order dismissing this case for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), MCL 722.1101 et seq. The court's ruling was based on its conclusion that Mexico was the minor child's " home state." However, in this case the child did not have a home state as that term is defined by the UCCJEA. Accordingly, we reverse and remand to the circuit court so that it may fully consider whether it has jurisdiction under the UCCJEA.

          I. BACKGROUND

          The parties never married but were in a romantic relationship for several years. In June 2016, defendant-mother gave birth to a daughter in Michigan. The next day plaintiff signed an affidavit of parentage, which granted defendant " initial custody" of the child. MCL 722.1006. The parties' relationship ended sometime after the child's birth. In May 2017, defendant went with the child to Mexico to visit relatives. According to plaintiff, in November 2017 defendant returned to Michigan without the child. The circuit court found that the child has been living with the maternal grandmother in Mexico since May 23, 2017.

         [329 Mich.App. 209] In November 2018, plaintiff filed a complaint for custody and requested that the circuit court order the child's return to Michigan. He asserted that the court had subject-matter jurisdiction under the UCCJEA. Defendant appeared pro per for the hearing and said that she took the child to Mexico to keep her from plaintiff. Defendant considered plaintiff " a threat" to her and the child. The court found that Michigan was the child's home state under the UCCJEA and ordered defendant to arrange for the child's return to Michigan.

          Defendant obtained counsel and moved the circuit court to vacate its prior order. Defendant argued that Mexico, not Michigan, had home-state jurisdiction because the child had been living there since May 2017. Defendant asserted that the maternal grandmother had initiated a " custody action" in Mexico, but also referred to that matter as a " guardianship proceeding[]." Defendant argued that the Mexico court would likely find jurisdiction over the child and asked the circuit court to defer to those proceedings.

          A hearing on defendant's motion was held in December 2018. Both parties presented arguments regarding jurisdiction under the UCCJEA. The circuit court now found that Mexico was the child's home state. The court also found that there was no indication that Mexico has declined jurisdiction or is likely to do so. Accordingly, the ...


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