JENNIFER LYNN CONQUEST V JOSEPH MARION SIMSAnnotate this Case
STATE OF MICHIGAN
COURT OF APPEALS
JENNIFER LYNN CONQUEST,
November 24, 1998
Kent Circuit Court
LC No. 96-002376 DP
JOSEPH MARION SIMS,
Before: Whitbeck, P.J., and Cavanagh and Neff, JJ.
Plaintiff appeals as of right the trial court’s order of dismissal, based on the court’s
determination that a Washington court was the more appropriate court to exercise jurisdiction in this
matter. We affirm.
This case arises out of a custody dispute between plaintiff and defendant over their minor
daughter, Kristine, who was born on December 2, 1994, in the state of Washington. In January 1996,
plaintiff took Kristine and moved to Michigan. On March 5, 1996, plaintiff filed an action in Kent
Circuit Court, asking the court to determine the parentage and custody of Kristine. On March 19,
1996, defendant filed a motion for establishment of parentage in Washington, also seeking custody of
Kristine. The trial court subsequently dismissed this case, stating that the Washington court was the
appropriate court to exercise jurisdiction over this matter.
Plaintiff argues that this case is controlled by the Paternity Act, MCL 722.711 et seq.; MSA
25.491 et seq., which provides that an action under the act “shall be filed in the county where the
mother or child resides.” MCL 722.714(1); MSA 25.494(1). We disagree.1 The Uniform Child
Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) applies to custody proceedings. See MCL 600.651 et seq.; MSA
27A.651 et seq. A “custody proceeding” includes proceedings in which a custody determination is one
of several issues to be determined. MCL 600.652(c); MSA 27A.652(c). Plaintiff is seeking custody
of the minor child. Accordingly, the UCCJA applies to this case.
Under the UCCJA, a court may decline to exercise its jurisdiction if it determines that “it is an
inconvenient forum to make a custody determination under the circumstances of the case and that a
court of another state is a more appropriate forum.” MCL 600.657(1); MSA 27A.657(1). In
determining whether it is in the interest of the child that another state assume jurisdiction, a court may
consider the following factors:
(a) If another state is or recently was the child’s home state.
(b) If another state has a closer connection with the child and his family or with the child
and 1 or more of the contestants.
(c) If substantial evidence concerning the child’s present or future care, protection,
training, and personal relationships is more readily available in another state.
(d) If the parties have agreed on another forum which is no less appropriate.
(e) If the exercise of jurisdiction by a court of this state would contravene any of the
purposes stated in section 651. [MCL 600.657(3); MSA 27A.657(3).]
The child’s “home state” is “the state in which the child immediately preceding the time involved lived
with his or her parents . . . for at least 6 consecutive months.” MCL 600.652(e); MSA 27A.652(e).
We review a determination that jurisdiction in another state’s forum is more appropriate for an
abuse of discretion. See Brown v Brown, 181 Mich App 61, 71; 448 NW2d 745 (1989). After
reviewing the record, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the
Washington court was the more appropriate forum to exercise jurisdiction. Short-term presence in this
state is not enough to confer jurisdiction, even when the parent intends to stay longer. See MCL
600.653(2); MSA 27A.653(2). Kristine did not live in Michigan during the six months prior to the filing
of the complaint; accordingly, Michigan is not Kristine’s “home state.” See MCL 600.652(e); MSA
27A.652(e). There is no evidence in the record that “substantial evidence concerning the child’s
present or future care, protection, training, and personal relationships is more readily available in”
Michigan than Washington, where the child had spent most of her life. See MCL 600.657(3)(c); MSA
27A.657(3)(c). Moreover, MCL 600.653(1)(b); MSA 27A.653(1)(b) must be interpreted to
discourage the unilateral removal of a child from one jurisdiction to another. McDonald v McDonald,
74 Mich App 119, 126-127; 253 NW2d 678 (1977). The trial court’s refusal to exercise jurisdiction
under the UCCJA was not in error.
/s/ William C. Whitbeck
/s/ Mark J. Cavanagh
/s/ Janet T. Neff
We note that we are troubled by plaintiff’s characterization, both at a trial court hearing and in her
appellate brief, of defendant as “a mere sperm donor.”