Oregon DHS took custody of Marcus DeLaurent and his siblings in October 2016. The custodial parent, Trisha DeLaurent, and her three children are long-term Washington residents.
While Marcus was admitted to an Oregon hospital for a medical procedure, two anonymous calls were made to Oregon’s Child Welfare Hotline by the children’s grandmother Pamala Gaddis, an Oregon resident, who claimed her daughter posed a threat of harm to 14-year-old Marcus.
Against Trisha DeLaurent’s expressed wishes, her estranged mother was granted temporary foster care placement of Trisha’s two special needs children. The grandmother denied foster placement of her third grandchild, for whom she would not receive SS disability funding. As a result, the younger DeLaurent child has been additionally traumatized through separation from his siblings for 17 months.
In 1997, strict federal guidelines were established regarding “Home State” jurisdiction through the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). “The UCCJEA vests exclusive and continuing jurisdiction for child custody litigation in the courts of the child’s home state, which is defined as the state where the child has lived with a parent for six consecutive months prior to the commencement of the proceeding.” In the case of the DeLaurent family, that state is Washington.
Under Section 204 of the UCCJEA, Oregon took TEMPORARY EMERGENCY JURISDICTION of the DeLaurent children in October 2016 based on the following allowances:
“…the child is present in this State and … the child is [alleged to be] subjected to or threatened with mistreatment or abuse.”
However, Oregon State (in accordance with UCCJEA) was then tasked with establishing actual jurisdiction (subject matter and territorial) through a jurisdictional trial within the first 60 days after the children were removed by DHS (see published Oregon DHS chart below).
On Monday, February 26, 2018, the final week of a jurisdictional trial in the DeLaurent dependency case begins. This jurisdictional determination has extended to an record-breaking 17 months, longer than any known Oregon jurisdictional decision. Besides obliterating maximum time limits designed to ensure the rights of families, this delay has resulted in an extreme violation of due process rights of mother and children in this case.
At this point, Trisha DeLaurent and her children have been separated for 17 months without being afforded an opportunity to work toward reunification.
According to the Oregon Judicial Department (Juvenile Bench Book):
“The purpose of a jurisdictional hearing is to resolve the petition alleging the child is within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court under ORS 419B.100. Establishing jurisdiction provides the court a basis for ordering parents into appropriate services that will allow them to work toward reunification”
Delays in jurisdiction can result in delays in both reunification, and getting the child into an appropriate permanent placement when reunification is not an option.
A dismissal of the petition at conclusion of a jurisdictional trial means the state did not meet the burden to prove their allegations of harm, and the children are then returned immediately to the family. This is supposed to occur within 60 days; within the DeLaurent case it has lasted an additional 15 months. This abuse of procedure amounts to little more than state sponsored kidnapping.