In re Amberley D.
775 A.2d 1158 (2001)

  • Amberley grew up with her mother, Joann, and her step-father, Charles. They moved around a lot and it wasn’t a very stable home life.
  • Eventually, Joann and Charles divorced. Amberley went with Joann, but the situation deteriorated.
    • Amberley testified that by the time she was in eighth grade she had been in 27 different schools, and that Joann did not have a fixed address and was a drug addict. There were also allegations of sexual abuse from the random men Joann brought home.
  • Amberley ran away from her home in New Hampshire and went to Charles. Charles took Amberley to his parents, Diana and Richard, who lived in Maine.
    • Joann reported Amberley missing and then immediately went on vacation.
  • Diana and Richard went to court in Mainer and asked to be appointed temporary coguardians of Amberley.
  • The Trial Court found for Diana and Richard and gave them temporary guardianship of Amberley.
    • The Trial Court found that Amberley was in an intolerable living situation and had been inadequately cared for. Therefore it was in Amberley’s best interests to be separated from Joann.
    • The temporary guardianship was for 6 months, which is as long as a temporary guardianship can last under Maine law (18-A M.S.R.A. §5-207(c)).
  • The Trial Court awarded full guardianship to Diana and Richard. Joann appealed.
    • The Trial Court looked to Maine law (18-A M.S.R.A. §5-204) and found that there was clear and convincing evidence of a history of abuse, neglect, and mistreatment.
    • The Court found that it was in the best interests of Amberley to be permanently placed with Diana and Richard.
  • The Maine Supreme Court affirmed.
    • Joann argued that, under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act (PKPA), Maine did not have jurisdiction to decide Amberley’s fate because she was a New Hampshire resident.
    • However, the Main Supreme Court found that had resided in New Hampshire for less than six months, so that could not be considered her home state. And if Amberley did not have a home state, then Maine could have jurisdiction if they determined that there was a sufficiently significant connection between the minor and the State.
      • In this case, they found that since Diana and Richard lived in Maine and had temporary custody, and that Amberley had lived in Maine in the past, there was a significant connection.