MILLER, P. J., ANDREWS AND BETHEL, JJ.
after Esra and Vladi Gorelik moved to Georgia, Esra took
their son to Turkey on vacation and did not return. Esra
obtained temporary custody of the child from a Turkish court,
and Vladi filed for custody in Georgia. After the Georgia
court granted Vladi custody, Esra moved to dismiss the
custody award, arguing that the Georgia trial court lacked
jurisdiction under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and
Enforcement Act ("UCCJEA"). The Georgia trial court
found that it had jurisdiction and denied the motion to
dismiss. Esra now appeals,  and, after a thorough review, we
find that the Turkish court had jurisdiction under the UCCJEA
to enter the child custody order. We therefore reverse the
judgment of the trial court.
review a question of subject-matter jurisdiction under the
UCCJEA de novo. Kogel v. Kogel, 337 Ga.App. 137, 140
(786 S.E.2d 518) (2016). So viewed, the record shows that
Esra and Vladi were married in Turkey in 2009. Esra was
raised in Turkey and possesses a green card to live in the
United States. Vladi is a naturalized United States citizen.
After they were married, they moved to Moscow for Vladi's
job, but Esra returned to Turkey in April 2012. In February
2013, their son was born in Turkey.
early 2014, the family moved together to Austria, but by the
following year, Esra had returned to Turkey with the child.
In May 2015, the family moved to New York, again for
Vladi's job, and they remained there until July 2015. At
that time, Esra and the child traveled to Turkey, where they
stayed until October 2015. They then returned to New York
and, in May 2016, the family moved to the State of Georgia.
Although Esra and Vladi signed a year-long lease on a home,
Esra never obtained a Georgia driver's license or
registered to vote in Georgia, and the child had not yet been
enrolled in school here.
12, 2016, Esra and the child traveled to Turkey, having lived
in Georgia just 22 days. Esra filed for divorce and custody
in Turkey on August 15, 2016, and a Turkish court awarded her
custody. It is unclear whether Vladi received proper notice
of the proceedings prior to the Turkish court's order.
filed for custody in Georgia, and the trial court awarded
Vladi custody in an emergency order. Thereafter, Esra moved
to dismiss the order for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction
in Georgia. Following a hearing, the trial court denied the
motion to dismiss, finding that the child had no "home
state;" the child had no significant connections to
either Georgia or Turkey; no other state had jurisdiction;
and the parties demonstrated their intent to make Georgia
their home. In reaching this conclusion, the trial court
noted that there was no evidence to establish how the Turkish
court had reached its decision, and the trial court declined
to consider whether the child had a significant connection to
Turkey based on connections acquired after the child had
moved there. This appeal followed.
appeal, Esra raises several related enumerations of error:
(1) the trial court lacked jurisdiction under the UCCJEA
because (a) the child had no significant connection to
Georgia; (b) the trial court should have considered the
child's significant connection to Turkey based on the
connections that existed prior to the time the custody
petition was filed; and (c) the trial court was authorized to
consider those connections established after the custody
petition was filed in Turkey; and (2) even if the trial court
had jurisdiction, it should have declined to exercise
jurisdiction because Turkey was the more convenient forum. We
begin with the jurisdictional question.
UCCJEA sets forth the circumstances in which a court of this
state has jurisdiction to make an initial custody
determination. The purposes of the UCCJEA are to
(1) avoid jurisdictional competition, (2) promote cooperation
between courts of different states, (3) discourage use of the
interstate system to continue custodial controversies, (4)
deter child abductions, (5) avoid relitigation of custody
decisions in other states, and (6) facilitate enforcement of
decrees by other states.
(Citation omitted.) Delgado v. Combs, 314 Ga.App.
419, 424 (1), n. 10 (724 S.E.2d 436) (2012). To these ends,
OCGA § 19-9-61 (a) provides that a court of this state
has jurisdiction to make an "initial child custody
(1) This state is the home state of the child on the date of
the commencement of the proceeding, or was the home state of
the child within six months before the commencement of the
proceeding and the child is absent from this state but a
parent or person acting as a parent continues to live in this
(2) A court of another state does not have jurisdiction under
paragraph (1) of this subsection, or a court of the home
state of the child has declined to exercise jurisdiction on
the ground that this state is the more appropriate forum
under Code Section 19-9-67 [setting out factors for
inconvenient forum] or 19-9-68 [where jurisdiction is
wrongfully obtained] and: (A) The child and the child's
parents, or the child and at least one parent or a person
acting as a parent, have a significant connection with this
state other than mere physical presence; and (B) Substantial
evidence is available in this state concerning the
child's care, protection, training, and personal
relationships; (3) All courts having jurisdiction under
paragraph (1) or (2) of this subsection have declined to
exercise jurisdiction on the ground that a court of this
state is the more appropriate forum to determine ...