Regina C., n/k/a Regina S. v. Michael C.

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Regina S. and Michael C. married in 2000, and had two children, both boys, from the marriage. Regina filed for divorce in late 2014, alleging Michael had engaged in domestic violence against her. The court thus awarded temporary physical and legal custody of the children to Regina pending a divorce trial and permanent custody award. The court restricted Michael to supervised visitation. Michael never actually had any supervised visits with the children, however, because in May 2015 (when the visits were to begin) Regina left Alaska and took the boys with her. Ultimately sole legal and primary physical custody of the children was awarded to the mother. The trial court did so with “reluctance,” finding that the mother had “engaged in . . . egregious parental alienation,” but also finding that the children had become “adjusted . . . to life” in the mother’s care. The court awarded substantial periods of visitation to the father. It explained that if the mother interfered with visitation, it “w[ould] likely change its custody determination to award . . . custody” to the father. Visitation subsequently failed to occur, and the court ordered the mother to show cause. Following a hearing, the court held the mother in contempt and modified the custody decree to give custody to the father. Regina appealed the modification of custody, claiming she had inadequate notice that custody would be determined at the show-cause hearing. She contended the superior court should have continued the hearing when her counsel withdrew several days earlier. She also claimed the court’s modification of custody was based on the court’s mistaken conclusion that she committed custodial interference, a crime of domestic violence. The Alaska Supreme Court concluded the mother had adequate notice of the hearing and that the trial court did not err when it found that her conduct constituted custodial interference. View "Regina C., n/k/a Regina S. v. Michael C." on Justia Law

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