Tuesday, March 7, 2006
Case Law Development: Remarriage and New Children not Changed Circumstances Justifying Custody Modification but Bonding with New Siblings May Be
The Alaska Supreme Court reversed a trial court's dismissal of a motion to modify custody in a case in which Mother was awarded primary custody with visitation schedule for preschooler, which was scheduled to become more limited when the child entered kindergarten. In the meantime, Father remarried and adopted two children. Trial court erred in not granting evidentiary hearing on father's motion to modify custody or visitation, because, while remarriage and new siblings are not a change in circumstances in the original bases for the custody order, the sibling bonding he alleges might provide a basis for a change in visitation at least. The court noted that "if a parent demonstrates a significant change relative to certain facts and circumstances that existed at the time of the prior custody order, but not others, the appropriate remedy is a limited modification focusing only on the changed facts and circumstances."
Robertson v. Phillips, 2006 Alas. LEXIS 32 (March 1, 2006) bgf