she has said i will never see her again .i work 4 hours from my home and am not home but once every 5 weekends...she claims to have sent paperwork and if i dont respond she gets full custody. can she legally take my daughter from oregon and keep her in california? what happens if i dont get the paperwork?
Family Law Attorney
You most likely need to consult with a divorce lawyer who is licensed to practice in both California and Oregon - but certainly in California. If she's filed in California, then a response would need to be filed in a California court.
The rules for service are fairly complicated. In essence, the idea is that the person filing the lawsuit must use all reasonably available means to give notice to the person being sued. If you haven't received a copy of the summons and petition that she filed, then the case can't proceed - but if she can demonstrate that she's used all reasonable means to serve you, then she can ask the court to 'serve by publication' - that is, to take out an ad in a newspaper in your area, and you're deemed to have been served after it's run for a month. So in theory it is possible for someone to have been served - and therefore to fail to file a response, and to lose a whole lot of rights - without ever knowing about it. This is why you need to talk to a California attorney right away.
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Family Law Attorney
I agree with Mr. Bodzin. You need to meet with an experienced attorney ASAP. If you did NOT get married in CA, then OR will probably have juridiction for this divorce. Also, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act insures that custody will be determined in the state where the child resided the last 5 years. With such a small child, you have already lost valuable time by not seeing an attorney right after she left. At a minimum, will we receive visitation with your daughter. Good luck.
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2 lawyers agree
Divorce / Separation Lawyer
I agree that you need to see a family law attorney immediately. There are both subject matter and personal jurisdiction issues. I doubt CA has personal jurisdiction over you, but it will if you file a general response to the CA petition. Instead, you should file a special appearance to challenge personal jurisdiction over you. Further, it appears that OR is the "home state" of your daughter, or at least has better jurisdiction over your daughter than CA does, and therefore OR has subject matter jurisdiction over custody and parenting time issues. You should file for divorce in OR and have wife served. It may be possible to obtain an emergency custody order since wife appears to have fled with your child and is now saying you will never see her again. There are some practical problems because it appears you have only seen your daughter every 5 weeks for a couple days, so your daughter may not be very bonded to you. You really need to sit down with a good local family law attorney and explore your options. At the end of the day, even with OR having jurisdiction, an OR court may ultimately allow wife to relocate to CA if it is established your daughter does not have much of a bond with you. These are difficult issues that require some very fact-specific counseling. Good luck.