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Drexler v. Bornman

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland

May 28, 2014

SARA SUE DREXLER, et vir
v.
JENNIFER LYNN BORNMAN, et al

Appeal from the Circuit Court for Baltimore County, Timothy J. Martin, Judge.

Argued by: Stephen H. Sacks of Baltimore, MD. for Appellant.

Argued by: David D. Nowak of Towson, MD. for Appellee.

Panel: Krauser, C.J., Meredith, Woodward, JJ.

OPINION

Page 629

[217 Md.App. 357] Krauser, C.J.

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (the " Act" ),[1] provides that a court of a child's " home state" has exclusive jurisdiction to " make an initial child custody determination," with only two exceptions, which we shall later more fully acknowledge and which, in any event, are not relevant to the issue before us. A " home state" for a child six months or older, as we have here, is, according to the Act, " the state in which a child lived with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least 6 consecutive months, including any temporary absence, immediately before the commencement of a child custody proceeding." [2]

This appeal requires us to decide whether a seven-year-old child's week-long visit to Maryland, which interrupted his one-year-and-five-month residence in Indiana, was a " temporary absence" from Indiana or was, though brief, a change of residence that, in effect, prevented the aforementioned six consecutive month requirement from being met and thereby denied Indiana " home state" status. In addressing this issue, we must examine, among other things, what role the mother's short-lived intent to change her residence from Indiana to Maryland should play in making that determination.

This issue arose when Sara Drexler and Thomas Drexler, the maternal grandparents of Cameron Wright and residents of Maryland, filed a complaint, in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County, seeking custody of Cameron. The parents and current custodians of Cameron, Indiana residents Jennifer Bornman and Edward Wright, were named as defendants. At the time the Drexlers filed their custody complaint, Cameron was seven years old and was residing in Indiana. In dismissing the complaint upon the motion of Cameron's mother, the circuit court ruled that Maryland lacked jurisdiction over the [217 Md.App. 358] custody dispute, because Indiana was Cameron's " home state." This appeal, by the Drexlers, followed.

Background

Cameron was born in Indiana in July of 2005, to his mother, Jennifer Bornman and his father, Edward Wright. From his birth and until he was approximately eighteen months old, Cameron lived in Indiana with his parents. Then, in October of 2006, Cameron and his parents moved to Maryland, where they lived with the Drexlers, who are Cameron's maternal grandmother and maternal step-grandfather. Then, within " a couple" of weeks, Cameron's

Page 630

father moved back to Indiana while Cameron and his mother remained in Maryland with the Drexlers.

About three years and five months after relocating to Maryland, Cameron and his mother, moved back to Indiana in March of 2010. Less than a month later, however, Cameron's mother arranged for Cameron to return and stay with the Drexlers while she continued to live in Indiana. But, that arrangement ended when, ...


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