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Dept. of Human Services v. M. H.

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 04-17-2013
Case #: A152188
Hadlock, J. for the Court; Ortega, P.J.; and Sercombe, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A152188.pdf

Family Law: Under ORS 109.741(3), personal jurisdiction over a child is not required for a court to have jurisdiction over a matter concerning the custody of the child, including dependency jurisdiction. Under ORS 419B.100, the totality of evidence can be used to grant subject matter jurisdiction, even if every element is not met.

The mother and father of a child appealed a juvenile court judgment giving custody to the Department of Human Services (DHS). The father had a criminal history of sexual abuse and did not complete a sex-offender treatment program. The mother had a personality disorder, a history of physical abuse towards children, and custody of two previous children taken away. Both the mother and father were unemployed since their relationship began. Between May of 2011 and June of 2011, they had two children. DHS eventually took custody of both children. Several months later, the juvenile court held a jurisdictional hearing at which several people testified regarding the mother and father’s parenting capabilities. The juvenile declared the second child a ward of the court. In July of 2012, the juvenile court held a dispositional hearing and placed the child in legal and physical custody of DHS. The parents argued that the juvenile court erred in determining it had personal and subject matter jurisdiction over the child. The Court of Appeals held that under ORS 109.741(3), personal jurisdiction over a child is not required for a court to have jurisdiction over a matter concerning the custody of the child, including dependency jurisdiction. After reviewing the evidentiary record regarding subject matter jurisdiction, the Court of Appeals held that, although DHS did not show every element of ORS 419B.100, the totality of the evidence was enough to affirm subject matter jurisdiction over the child. Remanded for a corrected jurisdictional judgment, otherwise affirmed.