Legal proceedings that involve the welfare of children can be some of the most trying and stressful matters for all affected parties. Child custody disputes, in particular, require special attention to the best interests of the children. There are numerous legal issues that will need to be addressed every step of the way, many of which would never occur to parents, such as determinations related to "jurisdiction" of the matter. Because the outcome of a child custody case can significantly impact a family's future in terms of parenting arrangements, it is critical that an experienced family law attorney handle the matter with care and competence. If you are facing a child custody dispute of any kind, you are encouraged to contact a local San Diego attorney as early as possible in the proceedings.
A recent case exemplifies the need to pay attention to every detail of a child custody matter. Here, a California court of appeals concluded that the juvenile court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over a custody dispute, where there was evidence that the child lived in San Diego for less than six months, and prior to that, lived in Mexico. According to the facts of the case, the child was born in San Diego in 2005, but lived in Mexico with his parents and attended school there. In January 2013, the mother brought the child to San Diego.
Two months later, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (the "Agency") received a report indicating that the paternal grandfather had abused the child in Mexico. In response, the mother presented the Agency with letters from the Mexican government to show that there was a services assessment for the child. Further, a Mexican official confirmed that there was an active case against the grandfather. In April 2013, the Agency filed a dependency action for the child, arguing that both parents were currently in jail and unable to arrange for the child's care. He was placed in a foster home.