In addition to international custody disputes, the proper advance notice requirements under the UCCJEA were the issues in W.M. v. V.A.
The minor child of this action was born in the United States to a resident of Belarus and Monaco. The father was a citizen of the United States. The parents lived together in Belarus in the mother’s place of residence. In May 2017, the mother filed an application to determine the minor child’s residence. Notice was sent on May 29, 2017, to the address in Belarus. On June 7, 2017, the Belarus court held a hearing and stated that the place of residence for the child was in Belarus. The father was unaware of the Belarus proceeding and filed a paternity action in California in July of 2017.
The father filed a petition for temporary emergency orders for child custody and visitation. The mother filed a motion to quash the California action, and the family court granted the mother’s request in January of 2018. The father appealed stating that Belarus did not have jurisdiction to make custody orders.
The court of appeals agreed with the father and stated that in order for a court of a different state or country to have jurisdiction, it must be in substantial conformance with the UCCJEA. One of the UCCJEA requirements is notice in a manner reasonably calculated to give actual notice and an opportunity to be heard. There was substantial evidence that the Belarus court did not provide adequate notice to the father. Although actual notice is not required, the notice given should provide assurance that it is reasonably calculated to give notice. The notice provided in this case was on May 29, but the hearing was held on June 7—less than 10 days after notice was served.
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