The minor child, BV, was placed with a foster parent by the LA County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) after allegations that her parents abused her. The minor child and her mother traveled to California, as undocumented immigrants, approximately 2-3 months prior to DCFS removed the child from her mother and initiated welfare proceedings. In an unpublished appellate opinion, the California Court of Appeals addressed the mother’s argument that Guatemala, and not California, has jurisdiction to resolve any issues related to the child.
The minor child’s father was already living in California with his other children. When the mother and child left Guatemala a few months prior to the commencement of this proceeding, no parent nor the child remained in Guatemala. Therefore, the court concluded that the child no longer had a home state. In other words, Guatemala was not the home state, because everyone had left Guatemala and no parent or a person acting as a parent remained living there. The court then concluded that the child had significant connections with the state of California. Despite the mother’s arguments that the child had lived most of her life in Guatemala, and had family and connections there, the court concluded that all relevant evidence related to the child’s abuse was located in California. Further, the child’s father had lived in California for years with his other children. Finally, the mother argued that California should decline jurisdiction based on her unjustifiable conduct of removing BV from Guatemala and traveling to California using human traffickers. But, there was nothing in the record to indicate that the mother’s decision to leave Guatemala, where she claimed an abusive and dangerous situation, was improper.