Edith A. v. Jonah A.

In Edith A. v. Jonah A.,[1] the Supreme Court held that a party is entitled to a hearing on a motion to modify legal custody if she has alleged specific facts which, if true, demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances.  Jonah and Edith were married in 2006 and had a son.  Jonah filed for divorce in 2008, and the two came to an agreement for joint legal custody.  In April 2015 Edith filed a motion to modify custody to obtain sole legal and primary physical custody.  The superior court denied the motion, though it found the parties were “remarkably unkind” and ordered them to minimize contact for the benefit of the child.  In July 2017, Edith filed a second motion once again seeking to give herself sole custody. She credibly alleged that the current arrangement was unworkable because Jonah failed to cooperate in getting the child to therapy, selecting a school, and in ensuring adequate medical care.  The superior court denied the second motion to modify custody without a hearing, finding no credible argument that there has been a material change of circumstances from the prior hearing.  The supreme court disagreed.  It found that Edith’s allegations, if true represented a material change of circumstances.  The court explained that joint legal custody is not appropriate if parents are unable to cooperate in a child’s best interest.  Consequently, the court reasoned that a failure to cooperate can of justify a change in the custody arrangement.  The court concluded that Jonah’s alleged unwillingness to cooperate met this standard and so a hearing was required.  Reversing and remanding, the Supreme Court held that a party is entitled to a hearing on a motion to modify legal custody if she has alleged specific facts which, if true, demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances.

 

 

 

[1] 433 P.3d 1157 (Alaska 2018).

Edith A. v. Jonah A.

In Edith A. v. Jonah A.,[1] the Supreme Court held that a party is entitled to a hearing on a motion to modify legal custody if she has alleged specific facts which, if true, demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances.  Jonah and Edith were married in 2006 and had a son.  Jonah filed for divorce in 2008, and the two came to an agreement for joint legal custody.  In April 2015 Edith filed a motion to modify custody to obtain sole legal and primary physical custody.  The superior court denied the motion, though it found the parties were “remarkably unkind” and ordered them to minimize contact for the benefit of the child.  In July 2017, Edith filed a second motion once again seeking to give herself sole custody. She credibly alleged that the current arrangement was unworkable because Jonah failed to cooperate in getting the child to therapy, selecting a school, and in ensuring adequate medical care.  The superior court denied the second motion to modify custody without a hearing, finding no credible argument that there has been a material change of circumstances from the prior hearing.  The supreme court disagreed.  It found that Edith’s allegations, if true represented a material change of circumstances.  The court explained that joint legal custody is not appropriate if parents are unable to cooperate in a child’s best interest.  Consequently, the court reasoned that a failure to cooperate can of justify a change in the custody arrangement.  The court concluded that Jonah’s alleged unwillingness to cooperate met this standard and so a hearing was required.  Reversing and remanding, the Supreme Court held that a party is entitled to a hearing on a motion to modify legal custody if she has alleged specific facts which, if true, demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances.

 

 

 

[1] 433 P.3d 1157 (Alaska 2018).