The Randoys are married parents to one son born in Los Angeles in 2014. Marieke, a Canadian national, was having difficulty finding acting parts in LA, so she discussed, with Reed, taking their son to Canada, finding smaller TV roles there, booking several, and then returning to LA to audition “via tape.” They also agreed that once she had sufficient acting income to replace Reed’s income in LA, he would then move to Vancouver temporarily to gain acting credits. Once both had sufficient resumes, they would move back to LA and work in the film and TV industry. “The plan was always to come back to Los Angeles to raise their son in Hollywood.” Once Marieke and their son were in Vancouver, she signed a 1-year lease for an apartment, they gave up their LA apartment, Reed lived on his boat in California, and he flew to Canada once every 3-4 weeks to visit mother and child. On April 25, 2015, Marieke and the child flew back to LA, where Reed expressed a desire to halt their “temporary Canada plan” because it was not yielding any success in acting roles, and he missed their son. This upset Marieke who said that “Reed was trying to control her and he could not dictate where she lived.”
On May 19, 2015, while Marieke and child were still in LA, Reed filed for dissolution of marriage and a UCCJEA declaration in LA (disclosure of addresses for the child for the last 5 years). On Reed’s UCCJEA declaration, he said, “the child lived with both parents in Vancouver from ‘4/2014 to present’ and also lived in Los Angeles during the exact same time”. Marieke was served 2 days later. The California standard summons includes a restraining order prohibiting her from removing the child from California without Reed’s written consent or a court order. On May 28, 2015, however, Marieke took the child back to Canada without Reed’s knowledge or consent. Reed obtained an ex parte order for temporary emergency custody, the immediate return of the child, and turnover of the child’s passport. It then modified its order a few weeks later giving joint legal custody to the parents, and sole physical custody of the child to Marieke (with Reed having visitation). A few days later, the court vacated this temporary order, and gave the parents the opportunity to “brief the issue of jurisdiction.”
On July 31, 2015, the court found California to be the child’s home state pursuant to the UCCJEA (finding that the move to Vancouver was a temporary absence). The court then issued a final custody order, with joint legal custody and sole physical custody to Reed. It gave Marieke visits every weekend in LA. It mandated that neither parent could change the child’s residence from LA County, California without the other parent’s consent or a court order. Marieke did not visit the child in LA until October 7, 2016. She then took the child back to Canada without Reed’s or the court’s knowledge or consent, and refused to return the child after her weekend visit. Reed sought a domestic violence restraining order and the immediate return of the child to LA. He also sought an order granting him sole physical custody and suspending Marieke’s visitation (or making it supervised). Reed sought and obtained an order from the court in Canada authorizing the seizure of the child. Canadian police secured the child and turned over the child to Reed, whereupon he returned to LA. The California court issued a 5-year domestic violence PO and gave Reed sole legal and physical custody, with no visitation between the child and Marieke. Marieke appealed arguing, among other things, that California was not the child’s home state, and therefore lacked jurisdiction under the UCCJEA.
The appellate court, in reviewing the evidence at trial, concluded that the 1 year timeframe in Canada was a temporary absence from the child’s home state in California. Therefore, it affirmed the trial court’s finding that it, in fact, had jurisdiction under the UCCJEA to issue an initial child-custody order. The trial court properly analyzed the parties’ subjective intent that the 1-year period where the child lived in Canada was only intended to be temporary.