Thursday, September 24, 2015
C.A. Lifts Order That Woman Not Step Outside County With Child
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Court of Appeal for this district yesterday invalidated a restraining order based on a father’s unsupported contention that the mother might flee with their daughter to Texas, while the mother swore that her only connection with that state is that her fiancé is a fan of the Dallas Cowboys.
The order, made by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michelle Williams Court, forbade the appellant, Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff Theresa L. Waid (identified in the opinion as “T.W.”), from taking the child, “G,” outside Los Angeles County without permission of the father or the court. The order was not based on substantial evidence, Justice Lamar Baker of Div. Five said in an unpublished opinion.
Both parents—who were never wed—reside in the northern portion of the county, the mother in Lancaster and the father, George E. Semenez (designated “G.S.”), in Santa Clarita. Semenez also works for the Sheriff’s Department.
The mother has a fiancé who lives in Tehachapi, a city in Kern County, about 50 miles northwest of Lancaster.
Barred From Moving
Court in 2013 awarded primary custody of the child to the mother. Shortly afterward, Waid told Semenez she planned to move to Tehachapi; Semenez balked, and appeared ex parte to gain an order enjoining the mother from moving out of the county; the judge told her to stay put, pending further proceedings.
Although she had sold her home and she and her fiancé had purchased a home in Tehachapi, she lived with the child at her mother’s home in Los Angeles County.
On the day of a scheduled hearing on May 21, 2014, Semenez filed a Judicial Council form for seeking a child abduction prevention order. He checked boxes and filled in blanks.
Indicating a concern that Waid would take the girl to Kern County or to Texas, he asked that she be enjoined from taking G. beyond county lines. Court made a temporary emergency order to that effect, and set a noticed hearing.
Moving to Texas
Semenez then filed a declaration in which he alleged that Waid told him that she, the finance, and the child were moving to Texas. She failed a responsive declaration saying:
“I have never been to Texas. I have no family in Texas. My fiancé has no family in Texas. I have no ties to Texas. The only connection my fiancé and I have with Texas is that my fiancé is a huge Dallas Cowboys football fan...[and] has shown [G.] his Dallas Cowboys memorabilia.”
She said that she told the custodial evaluation “that we have no intention of relocating,” adding:
“I explained to her that my family lives in Lancaster and my fiancé’s two children...live in Southern California. I also told her my fiancé owns a home in Kern County and his immediate family resides in Kern County. Finally, my fiancé is a deputy sheriff in Los Angeles County.”
At a June 12 hearing, Court declared that the May 21 order not to leave the county with the child “will remain in full force and effect.”
Yesterday’s opinion reverses the order. Baker wrote:
“Father’s evidentiary showing, which served as the basis for the challenged court orders, is particularly lacking in any evidence that Mother planned to remove G. from California. Father’s ex parte application for an order on May 21 was devoid of any evidence in support of the assertion Mother planned to take G. to Texas. After the court issued the ex parte order he sought, Father filed a declaration before the noticed June 12 hearing that did aver G. said Mother was going to become a teacher and move with her fiancé to Texas. Other than this single reported statement, Father offered nothing else to indicate that Mother had any plans to take G. to Texas….By contrast, Mother’s declaration filed the day before the June 12 hearing denied any intention to take G. to Texas and set forth myriad facts explaining why there was no risk she would do so, including her ties to California, her fiancé’s ties to California, and her lack of any ties to Texas (other than, of course, her fiancé’s support of Dallas’s football team).”
Baker went on to say:
“Whether Mother is entitled to move with G. to Tehachapi and whether such a move would impact the court’s custody determination are questions not before us, and we express no opinion on either issue. We are confident the family law court will be able to address either or both questions in the first instance, if presented.”
The case is T.W. v. G.S., B257777.
Melissa Buchman represented Waid and Hugh A. Lipton and Brian Magrude of Lipton and Margolin acted for Semenez.
Copyright 2015, Metropolitan News Company