Custody Dispute Highlights Need to Determine Residency
Denver, CO (Law Firm Newswire) May 31, 2013 - A notable Colorado custody dispute hinged on permanent residency.
A custody dispute in the case of Madrone v. Madrone (Colo. Nov 27. 2012) highlights the need to firmly establish primary residency of both parental parties for the court.
Karah Madrone, Lorrena Madrone and their three-year-old daughter moved from Oregon to Boulder, Colorado. But shortly after the couple split up, Lorrena took the daughter, R.M. full-time, and allowed Karah to have visitation rights. At some point, Lorrena cut off contact between Karah and R.M. and moved with R.M to New Mexico and then to Oregon.
"The first step in a case like this is determining whether the trial court has jurisdiction to determine if Colorado is indeed the child's home state," noted Denver child custody attorney Bill Thode. "The Supreme Court said that the parents did not definitely indicate that Colorado was their permanent residence."
Kara Madrone pursued child custody through the Colorado court system. The trial court declined to exercise emergency jurisdiction, determining that Colorado was not R.M.'s home state. The court did, however, hold that it held jurisdiction to determine child custody matters based on the parties' intent to change their residency to Colorado.
The Supreme Court reviewed that assumption and held that the trial court failed to conduct the proper analysis to determine if it did have the jurisdiction to make an initial child custody determination. If the state does not qualify as the child's home state, then the court must look at other factors to determine if the court has jurisdiction.
Does at least one parent have a "significant connection" to that state other than a physical presence? If there is not a state with a more significant connection, is there a state which is a more appropriate forum? Has another state declined jurisdiction on the findings that Colorado was the more appropriate forum? As a final determination, was the state chosen as a "last resort?" In this case, that could not be determined, because the significant connection and the appropriate forum options had not yet been examined.
Because the trial court applied the incorrect legal standard in determining justification, the Supreme Court determined it erred when it held that Colorado had justification to determine the custody dispute. It remanded the case for trial court to conduct a full analysis.
Thode Law Firm, P.C.
201 Steele Street, Suite 201
Denver, CO 80206
Call: (303) 330-0425
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