What you signed was an informal letter of guardianship but was not a court supervised nor court approved. In of itself, it really shouldn’t hold any water. If you maintain a regular ongoing relationship with your child, you shouldn’t have too much problem in regard to regaining physical custody. I believe the police should rightfully assist you in gaining physical custody for you. You want to bring the birth certificate and any other proof you have that you are the biological mother. The courts are strongly in favor of the biological parents maintaining the parent/child relationship and having physical custody. The passage of time is certainly not in your favor and you need to move as quickly as possible. For her to ultimately to prevail, she would have to convincingly lie to the court and suggest that you are a terrible mother and you have abandoned the child. If this not the case, there is a huge presumption that biological parents should have child. What muddies the waters up to some degree is the fact that the child has been in California for a lengthy period - one year. The court would have a reasonable basis to take jurisdiction based upon the fact that he actually lives in California. Another issue is whether there ever was any sort of court proceeding where court orders concerning the child were issued in Utah, whether it be as between you and her or you and the father? If you have outstanding court orders, you could think about joining her into the Utah action and get an emergency order that she has to return the child to Utah or to you or you would be able to pick up the child. If she attempts to establish jurisdiction in California, it creates more roadblocks, but I think either way you could prevail unless there are other negative factors which I am unaware of.
I hope this is helpful.
John N. Kitta
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