In re Guardianship of ST., a minor child.
Anne T. and Andrew T., appellees. Gabe N. Stalder, appellant,
Child Custody: Jurisdiction: Appeal and Error. The question
whether jurisdiction should be exercised under the Uniform
Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act is entrusted
to the discretion of the trial court and is reviewed by an
appellate court de novo on the record for abuse of
__:__:__ . In considering whether jurisdiction exists under
the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, a
jurisdic-tional question that does not involve a factual
dispute is determined by an appellate court as a matter of
law, which requires an appellate court to reach a conclusion
independent from the trial court.
Statutes: Appeal and Error. Statutory interpretation is a
question of law, which an appellate court resolves
independently of the trial court.
Jurisdiction: Appeal and Error. Before reaching the legal
issues presented for review, it is the duty of an appellate
court to determine whether it has jurisdiction over the
matter before it.
Child Custody: Jurisdiction. Jurisdiction over a child
custody proceeding is governed exclusively by the Uniform
Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act.
Child Custody: Guardians and Conservators: Words and Phrases.
Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement
Act, the term "child custody proceeding" is defined
to include a proceeding for guardianship of a minor.
Child Custody: Jurisdiction: States. For a state to exercise
jurisdiction over a child custody dispute, it must either be
the "home state" as defined by the Uniform Child
Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act or fall under
limited exceptions to the home state requirement specified by
the act. Generally speaking, Neb. Rev. Stat. §
43-1238(a)(1) [300 Neb. 73] (Reissue 2016) grants
jurisdiction to the "home state" of the child and
§ 43-1238(a)(2) through (4) sets out the
"exceptions" under which a court will have
jurisdiction, even if it is not in the child's "home
Jurisdiction: Appeal and Error. When a trial court lacks
jurisdiction to adjudicate the merits of a claim, issue, or
question, an appellate court also lacks the power to
determine the merits of the claim, issue, or question
presented to the lower court.
from the County Court for Richardson County: Curtis L.
Maschman, Judge. Judgment vacated, and cause remanded with
Melanie A. Kirk, of Johnson, Flodman, Guenzel & Widger,
T., pro se.
appearance for appellee Anne T.
HEAVICAN, C.J., MILLER-LERMAN, CASSEL, STACY, AND FUNKE, JJ.,
AND STEINKE, DISTRICT JUDGE.
Stalder petitioned the county court to be appointed guardian
of his then 7-year-old niece, S.T., alleging her parents were
not properly caring for her. After an evidentiary hearing,
the court denied the petition, finding Stalder had failed to
prove by clear and convincing evidence that S.T.'s
parents were unfit. Stalder appealed. Because we find the
county court lacked jurisdiction over the guardianship
proceedings under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and
Enforcement Act (UCCJEA),  we vacate the judgment and remand the
matter with directions to dismiss.
T. and Anne T. are the natural parents of S.T., born in
November 2009 in Beatrice, Nebraska.
Neb. 74] Shortly after S.T.'s birth, Andrew and Anne
moved with S.T. to a home in Humboldt, Nebraska. They lived
together in Humboldt until February 27, 2017, when they moved
to Emporia, Kansas.
days later, on March 1, 2017, Anne's brother, Stalder,
filed a petition for temporary and permanent guardianship of
S.T. in the county court for Richardson County, Nebraska. In
his petition, Stalder claimed S.T.'s parents were
unsuitable to care for her. He sought an ex parte order
appointing him as S.T.'s temporary guardian and an
expedited hearing on his request for appointment as S.T's
permanent guardian. Based on the allegations in the petition,
the court appointed Stalder as temporary limited guardian for
S.T. and set the matter for an evidentiary hearing on April
evidentiary hearing, Stalder called three witnesses: Andrew,
Anne, and himself. Andrew and Anne were self-represented and
called no witnesses. Generally, Andrew and Anne testified
that S.T. was healthy and cared for. Stalder presented
evidence questioning the propriety of her education, the
condition of the family home in Nebraska, and the effect of
Andrew's antigovernment views on S.T.'s emotional and
evidence was undisputed that on February 10, 2017, Andrew
signed a 1-year lease on property in Emporia. And on February
27, Andrew, Anne, and S.T. moved to Emporia and were ...