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In re Parental Responsibilities Concerning B.C.B.

Court of Appeals of Colorado, Sixth Division

April 9, 2015

In re the Parental Responsibilities Concerning B.C.B., a Child, and Concerning C.R.B., Appellant, and A.L.C., Appellee.

Boulder County District Court No. 13DR30355 Honorable Judith L. LaBuda, Judge

The Burnham Law Firm, PC, Todd C. Burnham, Gavin M. Halligan, Erie, Colorado; Cox Baker & Page, LLC, Anne Whalen Gill, Castle Rock, Colorado, for Appellant

The Harris Law Firm, P.C., Katherine O. Ellis, Fort Collins, Colorado, for Appellee

OPINION

J. JONES JUDGE

¶ 1 In this proceeding to determine parental responsibilities for the child of A.L.C. (mother) and C.R.B. (father), father appeals from the district court's judgment declining jurisdiction under the Uniform Child-Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), §§ 14-13-101 to -403, C.R.S. 2014. We affirm.

I. Background

¶ 2 The parties were never married but are the parents of a child, B.C.B., born in Idaho on December 5, 2012. The parties and B.C.B. moved to Colorado on July 17, 2013. On August 31, 2013, mother and B.C.B. went to Massachusetts, where mother's extended family lived. Mother testified at the hearing to determine UCCJEA jurisdiction that she had purchased a round trip plane ticket and intended to return to Colorado if she and father could work out their relationship, but while she was in Massachusetts ultimately decided that the relationship was not going to work out and that she and B.C.B. would not return to Colorado. Father testified that mother had always intended to return to Colorado after a one-month visit with her family in Massachusetts.

¶ 3 On September 26, 2013, after father learned that mother and B.C.B. would not be returning to Colorado, he petitioned the Colorado district court for an allocation of parental responsibilities for B.C.B. He served mother with the petition two days later when she returned to Colorado to get her and B.C.B.'s belongings. Mother responded, contesting the Colorado court's jurisdiction. After she returned to Massachusetts, she filed a custody action there. The Massachusetts court entered temporary orders on October 11, 2013, granting custody of B.C.B. to mother.

¶ 4 The Colorado and Massachusetts courts later conferred, and the Colorado district court asserted temporary emergency jurisdiction over B.C.B., ordered mother to return to Colorado with B.C.B., and set a hearing to determine jurisdiction under the UCCJEA. The Massachusetts court vacated its temporary order granting custody to mother and stayed its proceedings pending the Colorado hearing and a decision on jurisdiction.

¶ 5 After the hearing, the Colorado district court determined that although Idaho was B.C.B.'s home state under the UCCJEA, neither party wanted Idaho to take jurisdiction and therefore either Colorado or Massachusetts could exercise jurisdiction under section 14-13-201(1)(d), C.R.S. 2014. The court further determined that although either state could take jurisdiction, neither was required to do so, and it declined its jurisdiction on the basis that Colorado was not the most appropriate forum.

¶ 6 The court alternatively applied section 14-13-201(1)(b) and determined that B.C.B. had more significant connections with Massachusetts than with Colorado, and that more substantial evidence concerning his care, protection, training, and personal relationships was available in Massachusetts than in Colorado. It therefore also declined jurisdiction under section 14-13-201(1)(b).

II. Analysis

¶ 7 We reject father's contention that the district court erred by declining to exercise jurisdiction to allocate parental responsibilities for B.C.B.

A. Standard of Review

¶ 8 Although we review de novo the district court's legal determination whether it had jurisdiction under the UCCJEA to enter an initial parental responsibilities order for B.C.B., see Madrone v. Madrone, 2012 CO 70, ¶ 9, we review the court's decision declining to exercise jurisdiction for an abuse of discretion. See McCarron v. Dist. Court, 671 P.2d 953, 956 (Colo. 1983) (applying ...


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