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In re A.R.

Court of Appeals of Iowa

June 21, 2017

IN THE INTEREST OF A.R., B.R., A.M., AND R.T., Minor Children, S.R., Mother, Appellant, S.R., Father, Appellant.

         Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Woodbury County, Julie A. Schumacher, District Associate Judge.

         A father and mother separately appeal the juvenile court's order regarding jurisdiction. AFFIRMED.

          Harold K. Widdison of Harold K. Widdison, P.C., Sioux City, for appellant mother.

          Randy S. Hisey of Mayne, Arneson, Hindman, Hisey & Daane, Sioux City, for appellant father.

          Thomas J. Miller, Attorney General, and Mary A. Triick, Assistant Attorney General, for appellee State.

          Michelle M. Hynes of the State Public Defender, Sioux City, for minor children.

          Considered by Danilson, C.J., and Potterfield and Bower, JJ.

          DANILSON, Chief Judge.

         A father and mother separately appeal the juvenile court's order regarding jurisdiction. The father appeals with respect to his children, A.R. and B.R., and the mother appeals with respect to all four children.[1] The parents contend the juvenile court lacked subject matter jurisdiction and seek dismissal of the child-in-need-of-assistance (CINA) proceedings. Because we conclude the children's home state is Iowa and any other potential home state has declined jurisdiction, we affirm.

         The children were removed from the parents' care on October 15, 2016, by the Iowa Department of Human Services (DHS), following allegations the parents were using illegal substances and engaging in domestic violence toward each other and violence toward the children. At the time of removal, B.R., A.M., and R.T. were being cared for by their maternal grandparents and were located at the grandparents' home in Sioux City. A.R., who was with the mother, was later located and also removed.

         The father is a skilled multi-craftsman and frequently travels to other states to work on various projects. The children are home-schooled and the family often travels with the father. However, the parents contend their home in Edgar, Nebraska, has served as the family's "home base" since June 2015.

         The parents maintain the children's home state is Nebraska, and the juvenile court lacked jurisdiction. However, the court of the Tenth Judicial District of Nebraska filed an order on April 4, 2017, stating, "Pursuant to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act [(UCCJEA)], this court declines to exercise jurisdiction over the above-captioned children, finding that Iowa is the more appropriate forum to determine custody of the children."

         The UCCJEA "is the exclusive jurisdictional basis for making a child-custody determination by a court of [Iowa]." Iowa Code § 598B.201(2) (2017). Section 598B.201(1) provides a court of this state has jurisdiction only if any of the following applies:

a. This state is the home state of the child on the date of the commencement of the proceeding, or was the home state of the child within six months before the commencement of the proceeding and the child is absent from this state but a parent or ...

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