Alaska Supreme Court Opinions made Available byTouch N' Go Systems and Bright Solutions


Touch N' Go
, the DeskTop In-and-Out Board makes your office run smoother.

 

You can search the entire site. or go to the recent opinions, or the chronological or subject indices. Helen S. K. v. Samuel M. K. (11/16/2012) sp-6722

Helen S. K. v. Samuel M. K. (11/16/2012) sp-6722

        Notice: This opinion is subject to correction before publication in the PACIFIC  REPORTER . 

        Readers are requested to bring errors to the attention of the Clerk of the Appellate Courts, 

        303 K Street, Anchorage, Alaska 99501, phone (907) 264-0608, fax (907) 264-0878, email 

        corrections@appellate.courts.state.ak.us. 



                THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF ALASKA 



HELEN S. K.,                                   ) 

                                               )       Supreme Court No. S-14422 

                Appellant,                     ) 

                                               )       Superior Court No. 3AN-10-12776 CI 

        v.                                     ) 

                                               )       O P I N I O N 

SAMUEL M. K.,                                  ) 

                                               )       No. 6722 - November 16, 2012 

                Appellee.                      ) 

                                               ) 



                Appeal from the Superior Court of the State of Alaska, Third 

                Judicial District, Anchorage, Frank A. Pfiffner, Judge. 



                Appearances:      Robin   A.   Taylor,   Law   Office   of   Robin   A. 

                Taylor, Anchorage, for Appellant.          Maurice   N. Ellis, Law 

                Office of Maurice N. Ellis, Anchorage, for Appellee. 



                Before:     Carpeneti,     Chief    Justice,  Fabe,    Winfree,    and 

                Stowers, Justices. 



                STOWERS, Justice. 



I.      INTRODUCTION 

                Helen S. K. and Samuel M. K.1 were married in 1990.                 Helen filed for 



divorce in December 2010, requesting sole legal and primary physical custody of the 



        1       We have used pseudonyms throughout this opinion to protect the privacy 



of family members. 


----------------------- Page 2-----------------------

parties'   three   minor   children   and   equitable   division   of   the   marital   assets. Samuel 



counterclaimed,   requesting   joint   legal   and   shared   physical   custody   of   the   children. 



Superior Court Judge Frank A. Pfiffner awarded joint legal custody of all three children, 



shared   physical   custody   of   the   parties'   two   younger   children,   but   awarded   Samuel 



primary physical custody of the parties' oldest child.  The court imputed income to Helen 



and required that she pay Samuel child support.               Judge Pfiffner divided the parties' 



marital assets equally and made other decisions concerning the valuation and distribution 



of certain marital assets.   Helen appealed this decision on several grounds, including the 

use   of   in  camera   interviews,2    the   primary  physical   custody   award     to  Samuel,   the 



imputation of income, the equal property division, and the valuation and distribution of 



many of the assets.  We reverse and remand with respect to the court's valuation of one 



asset, but affirm all of its other decisions. 



II.     FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS 



        A.      Facts 



                1.      The family 



                Helen S. K. and Samuel M. K. were married in 1990.                    Helen filed for 



divorce in December 2010, requesting sole legal and primary physical custody of the 



parties'   three   minor   children   and   equitable   division   of   the   marital   assets. Samuel 



counterclaimed, requesting joint legal and shared physical custody of the children.  The 



three minor children were, at the time of trial:  Jason, aged 16; Ellen, aged 14; and Jacob, 



aged 12. 



        2       An in camera interview is an interview by the judge of a child in a custody 



case to ascertain the child's preference as to custody placement. See AS 25.24.150(c)(3) 

(providing that a child's preference is a best interest factor the court shall consider if the 

child is of sufficient age and maturity to form a preference). 



                                                  -2-                                               6722 


----------------------- Page 3-----------------------

                Helen   and   her   oldest   son   Jason   had   a   contentious   relationship. Helen 



described her son as an "instigator" with respect to the other two children, and believed 



that he had a "hard time getting along" with them.               Samuel confirmed that Jason and 



Ellen often got "on   each   other's nerves," fought daily, and sometimes needed to be 



separated.    During their in camera interviews, each of the children noted some conflict 



between Helen and Jason. 



                This situation was made more complicated because Helen believed that 



Jason should continue medication for his diagnosed attention deficit disorder (ADD), 



while Samuel and Jason himself did not believe Jason should do so.                      At   one point, 



Samuel took Jason to the doctor and had Jason removed from the medication without 



Helen's prior knowledge. 



                2.      The court's interviews with the children 



                At the end of the hearing on interim custody, Samuel asked the court to 



interview   the   children   prior   to   trial.  Helen   objected   to   judicial   interviews   with   the 



children.   Helen argued that the children had already been over-involved in decision- 



making and that placing this responsibility on them would be "unhealthy."  She instead 



requested the appointment of a custody investigator because she felt that asking the 



children to talk to a judge was "a heavy burden to put on a kid in a highly contentious 



situation." 



                At the conclusion of the interim custody hearing, Judge Pfiffner explained: 



                These     children    are  over   the   age  of   12.    I'm   required 

                statutorily under one of the factors under AS 25.24.150(c) to 

                take into account the children's interests because of their age 

                in what ultimately happens here. 



                Yes it is a stressful thing, but I somehow . . . [have] to figure 

                out what the kids want, [but] . . . I'm not bound to follow 

                what     they   want.     I'm     required    to  make     a   statutory 



                                                  -3-                                             6722
 


----------------------- Page 4-----------------------

                 determination of their best interests using . . . all of the nine 

                 factors cited under the statute that I just mentioned. . . . 



                 I certainly want to take their interests into account.            One of 

                 the ways I put it is that the children, they are still children and 

                 they don't drive the bus. . . . [O]n the other hand . . . it's their 

                 lives that we're talking about here . . . . 



                 After Helen objected to the in   camera   interview and again requested a 



custody investigator, the court responded: 



                 I am going to interview them.          I'm not going to appoint the 

                 custody investigator . . . . 



                 I'll explain to you the way I do interviews.            I do them in a 

                 non-threatening environment in my chambers on the record. 

                 The   record   is   confidential.     Actually,   it's   .   .   .   sealed,   not 

                 confidential, which means that unless I order otherwise, it's 

                 recorded on the record, but not available to anybody. 



                 I have an in-court deputy in there in my chambers with them. 

                 And frankly, it's worked. I used to not do very many of these 

                 at all, but over time, I've started doing more of them, because 

                 frankly, it's worked pretty well. 



                 I don't want to put . . . the children on the [witness] stand [to 

                 testify in court].  You know, that would be horrible here, and 

                 that's not going to happen.  And because of the exigencies of 

                 time,   I'm   not   going    to  utilize  the  custody    investigator's 

                 office, which . . . may or may not be able to do this the way 

                 that I'm doing it.    So we'll ensure that happens. . . . 



                 And basically, I'll . . . give you at the start of the trial some 

                 kind of perspective on where the children are coming from. 



After the in camera interviews and before trial, Judge Pfiffner provided the parties with 



a summary of what he learned from the children: 



                 [Ellen and Jacob] want to be together, and they like the new 

                 one week on/one week off schedule.               If I were to do what 

                 they   want   -   of   course,   I'm   not   obligated   to   do,   and   that 

                 remains for a decision - it would be one week on/one week 



                                                    -4-                                               6722
 


----------------------- Page 5-----------------------

                 off.  They like the new regime, and they want it to continue 

                 indefinitely.   That's my take. 



                 [Jason] is a bit of a   different situation.        I think somebody 

                 described Jason as kind of a handful or - I'm not sure exactly 

                 what [Jason] wants.        I was not able to really pin him down 

                 like you would put a pin on a dartboard . . . . 



                 But   I   will   tell   you   this.  It's   clear   to   me   from   talking   to 

                 [Jason],   and   really   from   talking   to   all   three   children,   that 

                 [Jason] and Mom don't get along, and [Jason] really doesn't 

                 want to spend much time at all with Mom. 



                 And what . . . [Jason] told me really was consistent with what 

                 the other children perceived, as well.   So . . . it's not that 

                 [Jason] is out there on the edge of the cliff somewhere. . . . 



                 As to [Jason], he clearly wants primary physical custody with 

                 his father. 



                 The squishy part, if you will, the part that I wasn't really able 

                 to pin him down on was how much time he wanted to spend 

                 with    Mom.     And     he   clearly   wanted    to  spend    time   with 

                 Mom. . . . 



                 [H]e   was   really   not   definitive   on   exactly   what   he   wanted 

                 there.   But he certainly wanted one weekend a month, and 

                 maybe a little bit more, but not much. 



                 And he wanted a couple of nights, like 5 to 8 [p.m.], a month 

                 with Mom.       And that was kind of squishy, too, because he 

                 was very definitive that he was going to be involved in some 

                 sports,   like   soccer,   and   he   didn't   want   the   visitation   with 

                 Mom to interfere with his extracurricular activities. 



Later during trial, the court reiterated, "I understand what [Jason] wants[, but] . . . [w]hat 



Dad has to show me is that . . . [it's] in [Jason's] best interest, i.e., that he can meet 



[Jason's] needs given his vigorous work schedule."                 Conversely, Helen would need to 



show that "more of a shared arrangement is   better   for [Jason], even though [Jason] 



clearly does not want that." 



                                                    -5-                                               6722
 


----------------------- Page 6-----------------------

                      a.     Interview with Jason 



               The court began the interview with Jason by explaining: 



               This is a confidential, sealed interview that is available only 

               to the [c]ourt, unless I order otherwise.  So it is confidential. 



               So it's a chance for me to talk to you, [Jason], about your 

               situation, your interests, your desires relative to the ongoing 

               case.  Because eventually . . . I have to make a decision on 

               final custody involving . . . where you live, with Mom or 

               Dad, or split in some way, that sort of thing, okay? 



               In his interview, Jason expressed a preference for living with his father and 



living with both of his siblings.   Jason felt that his father was in a better position to help 



him with his homework and shared more of the same hobbies and interests.            Jason still 



wanted to spend some time with his mother, agreeing to "an occasional weekend" and 



"maybe off and on during the week," so long as his sports schedules were not impacted. 



               Regarding ADD medication, Jason explained that it is easier for him to do 



his homework now that he was not taking his medication, and that the medication made 



him feel "sick" and "lethargic." Jason also said that he agreed with his doctor that he had 



"grown out" of his ADD and no longer needed the medication. 



                      b.     Interview with Ellen 



               The court began the interview with Ellen by explaining: 



               This recording is confidential.  That means that it's available 

               to the [c]ourt and court staff, but not to your parents or their 

               lawyers without any further order of the [c]ourt. 



               I requested that I talk to each child, since the children are 12 

               or older or thereabouts with the youngest.   And that I wanted 

               to get their input on what's going on in their lives and what 

               they would like to have or prefer to have happen, in terms of 

               custody.   I want to have them have a voice, and I figured this 

               was the best way to do it. 



                                              -6-                                         6722
 


----------------------- Page 7-----------------------

                Ellen expressed a preference to continue the weekly alternating schedules. 



She also explained that her brother Jason is "really annoying, because he stopped taking 



his ADD medications," but also "since [he has] ADD, he doesn't realize . . . [his] jokes 



aren't exactly funny . . . [h]e did have medication, but it didn't do anything."                   Ellen 



expressed her belief that Jason and Helen "don't get along" and that Jason and Samuel 



get along "really well." 



                        c.      Interview with Jacob 



                The court began the interview with Jacob by explaining: 



                This is a confidential recording available only to the [c]ourt, 

                unless I order otherwise, where I'm talking to each of the [K.] 

                children, in this case the youngest, [Jacob], about the custody 

                situation and their parents' divorce. 



                When children are 12 or older, and you're 12, so you get to 

                tell me anything you'd really like to tell me.            And I'll ask 

                some questions.  But really, what we're here about is to find 

                out what your interests and desires are with regard to how 

                you'd like custody and visitation to work with your parents' 

                ongoing divorce. . . . 



                And I'm required under the law to - because of your age, to 

                take   into   account   what   your   interests   and   preferences   are. 

                I'm   not required   to   do   what you   want me   to   do,   but   I'm 

                required to take it into account in making a determination of 

                what   is   in  the  best   interests  of  each   of  the  children   for 

                ultimately determining custody, okay? 



                Jacob wanted the schedule to remain "even" with alternating weeks with 



each parent, and all the siblings to stay together.            Jacob also reported that Jason and 



Helen "fight sometimes" and "sometimes" yell at each other. Jacob said that Helen does 



not yell at him (Jacob) as often. 



                                                   -7-                                             6722
 


----------------------- Page 8-----------------------

              3.     Helen's income 



              Helen works as a sonographer and is at the top of her pay scale.  She works 



approximately 32 hours per week and makes $63,000 per year.         Helen began working 



this reduced work schedule when the children were young in order to spend more time 



at home and cut down on child care costs.   Helen testified that now that the children are 



older, she wanted to continue working a reduced schedule both to be available for the 



children and to reduce the risk of repetitive use injuries that can result from working as 



a sonographer.  Helen argued that she hoped to add about four hours a week to her work 



schedule each week during which Samuel has the children. 



              Kurt Jacobson, a supervisor in Helen's department, testified that Helen was 



the clinic's only sonographer and that the clinic's needs were met by Helen's 32-hours- 



per-week schedule. He also testified that although Helen leaves work at about 3:30 p.m., 



the clinic has physicians until 5:30 p.m. and sometimes the clinic must turn away patients 



or hire someone to fill in for Helen when she is on vacation or taking a day off, which 



implies the clinic could serve additional patients if Helen worked full time.    Jacobson 



testified to his belief that the clinic could provide Helen with an additional eight hours 



per week if she wanted to work full time. 



              Jacobson also testified that Helen had complained of an aching wrist but 



acknowledged that she never filed a worker's compensation claim in response to those 



complaints. He testified that "it is documented that sonographers do have a problem with 



their wrist. . . . Repetitive motion syndrome is a common injury to people that use their 



hands . . . ."  Helen testified about experiencing wrist pain and the frequency of pain 



experienced by sonographers. 



                                            -8-                                      6722
 


----------------------- Page 9-----------------------

                4.     Samuel's capital stock 



                Samuel works as a civil engineer for USKH, Inc. and owns 200 shares of 

USKH capital stock.3       The vice president of USKH, Lance Mearig, testified regarding 



the value and transferability of Samuel's shares.  The company last valued the shares on 



August 16, 2010, at $1,033.38 per share.         At this valuation, Samuel's shares would be 



worth $206,676.      However, the shares were set to be re-valued on August 9, 2011, and 



a drop in value was expected.   At the time of his testimony, July 6, 2011,   Mearig valued 



the shares at $638.40 per share, testified that Samuel had 200 shares, and set the value 

of Samuel's shares at $127,680.4 



                According to Mearig, if Samuel wanted to sell his shares, he would need 



the approval of each shareholder; then the company would have right of first refusal; and 



then, if USKH declined to buy back the shares, Samuel could try to sell the shares to 



another shareholder.       If that process were not successful the sale would not happen, 



because the company stock is not transferable to non-shareholders.   If the court were to 



order a sale of the stock in spite of these difficulties, the corporation would buy the 



shares    at  $0.25   on   the  dollar.   However,       Mearig    testified  that  as  recently    as 



        3       Capital stock is the "total number of shares of a stock that a corporation 



may issue under its charter or articles of incorporation."          BLACK 'S LAW  DICTIONARY . 

1551 (9th ed. 2009).      The corporation initially and periodically thereafter declares the 

"total par value or stated value of this stock."  See id.  As in this case, capital stock is not 

traded on the market, and the market does not establish the stock's value.  Depending on 

the   corporation's     articles  or  bylaws,    capital   stock  may    be   purchased    by   other 

shareholders or the corporation.  See AS 10.06.325. 



        4       Mearig also testified that at the planned August 2011 board of directors 



meeting there might be a decrease in the total number of outstanding shares due to a 

shareholder   departure,   so   Mearig's   valuation   of   Samuel's   shares   could   increase   to 

$696.35 per share, or $139,271 total. 



                                                 -9-                                           6722
 


----------------------- Page 10-----------------------

June   21,   2011,   USKH   bought   back   another   shareholder's   200   shares   at   $1,033   per 

share.5 



                5.      Marital property 



                The parties' boat, household furnishings, exercise equipment, guns, and a 



second washer, dryer, and refrigerator are at issue in this appeal. 



                        a.      Boat 



                Helen listed the parties' boat as having a value of $1,500, although she said 



at trial this must have been a typo and instead estimated the value of the boat to be 



$15,000 after looking at boats on Craigslist.         Samuel at first listed the value of the boat 



at $8,000, but then in his trial brief listed the value at $7,500.         At trial Samuel testified 



that his parents had given him the boat in 2006, and had paid $12,000 for the boat in 



1989.    The   court   found   Samuel's   estimate   of   the   boat's   value   to   be   more   accurate 



because Helen's "estimate was based on a price comparison with boats that were of 



higher   quality   and   otherwise   not   comparable   in   value."    The   court   also   found   that 



"although the boat was a gift from Mr. [K.]'s parents, it was transmuted into a marital 



asset." 



                        b.      Household furnishings 



                Samuel testified that the household furnishings, such as beds, tables, chairs, 



etc., were worth $7,500.        Helen believed the furnishings were worth $1,500 because 



most of them were secondhand or generally worn down.  The court valued the furniture 



at $7,500 and divided the furniture as Samuel requested. 



                        c.      Exercise equipment 



                The parties agreed that Helen would keep the elliptical and Samuel would 



keep the treadmill.  After looking online, Helen set the value of the elliptical at $200 and 



        5       The shares were bought over time as per the buyback agreement. 



                                                 -10-                                               6722 


----------------------- Page 11-----------------------

the value of the treadmill at $300.       She also testified that the machines were purchased 



for "over a thousand each" about four or five years prior.            Samuel listed the combined 



value   of   the   two   machines   as   $1,200.   The   court   adopted   Samuel's   valuation   and 



awarded the elliptical to Helen and the treadmill to Samuel. 



                        d.      Guns 



                There are three guns at issue on appeal:  (1) a 12-gauge shotgun; (2) a .30- 



06 rifle with scope; and (3) a .45 pistol.        Samuel testified to having owned the shotgun 



since high school; he valued it at $300.         Helen valued the shotgun at $400.          The court 



found this to be Samuel's premarital asset and therefore not subject to division.  Samuel 



testified to having owned the .30-06 since high school and valued it at $350; Helen 



valued it at $550.   The court found this gun to be Samuel's premarital property.  Samuel 



valued the .45 at $350; Helen valued it at $850.           The court valued the gun at $350 and 



awarded it to Samuel. 



                        e.      Second washer, dryer, and refrigerator 



                Helen listed the value of a second washer/dryer set as $100 and wanted 



Samuel to take it. Samuel did not want the set. The court ordered that the set would stay 



with the home, which the parties agreed would be awarded to Helen. 



                Similarly,   Helen   listed   the   value   of   a   second   refrigerator   at   $100   and 



wanted   Samuel   to   take   it. Samuel   did   not   want   the   second   refrigerator. The   court 



ordered that the second refrigerator also stay with the home. 



        B.      Proceedings 



                Before the divorce trial took place, Helen and Samuel participated in an 



interim custody hearing on May 31, 2011.            After the hearing but before trial, the court 



interviewed all three children in camera regarding their custody preferences.                   These 



interviews took place from June 13-15, 2011.  The trial itself was held over several days 



in the summer of 2011:       June 21, July 6-8, July 11, and July 19. 



                                                 -11-                                            6722
 


----------------------- Page 12-----------------------

                The court determined that the parties would exercise joint legal custody of 



all three children and shared physical custody of Ellen and Jacob.              Samuel would have 



primary physical custody of Jason, with Helen to receive visitation.  The court found the 



custody decision to be "in the best interests of the parties' three children."                Because 



Samuel was awarded primary physical custody of Jason, Helen would owe child support 



to   Samuel, which the court ordered should   be calculated based   on   Helen's   imputed 



income, as if she were working 40 hours per week, even though Helen's schedule called 



for only 30-32 hours per week at the time of trial.           Samuel was given the responsibility 



to file for and manage the children's Alaska Permanent Fund Dividends (PFDs). 



                The court equally divided the property.   The marital home was awarded to 



Helen, while the marital cabin was awarded to Samuel.                As to the disputed assets, the 



court found: (1) Samuel's capital stock had a current fair market value of $133,475.49, 



                                                                  6 

which was below the value for which Helen had argued;  (2) the fishing boat was marital 



property, not Samuel's separate property, and was valued at $7,500, the value which 



Samuel had suggested; (3) the shotgun and .30-06 were Samuel's premarital property, 



while the .45 pistol was marital property and worth $350, as suggested by Samuel; it was 



awarded to Samuel; (4) Samuel's valuation and proposed division of furnishings was 



acceptable and adopted; (5) Helen's valuation of the artwork was acceptable; and (6) a 



disputed generator should stay with the cabin and therefore was awarded to Samuel.  The 



court also ordered that Helen "shall retain her married name." 



III.    STANDARD OF REVIEW 



                Because "[t]he superior court has broad discretion in deciding child custody 



issues,"   we   will   not   reverse   the   superior   court's   custody   decision   unless   the   court 



        6       The court's valuation of $133,475.49 was the average of Mearig's two 



proffered values.     See supra note 4 and accompanying text. 



                                                  -12-                                              6722 


----------------------- Page 13-----------------------

"abused its discretion or the controlling factual findings are clearly erroneous."7                "Abuse 



of discretion is established if the trial court considered improper factors in making its 



custody   determination,   failed   to   consider   statutorily   mandated   factors,   or   assigned 

disproportionate weight to particular factors while ignoring others."8                We have held that 



                 in making a final child custody determination, a trial court 

                 need not specifically address the statutory factors detailed in 

                 AS 25.24.150(c), and make explicit ultimate findings that the 

                 best interests of the children require the custodial disposition 

                 reached,     so  long    as  its  findings    either   give   us  a  clear 

                 indication of the factors which the superior court considered 

                 important   in   exercising   its   discretion   or   allow   us   to   glean 

                 from the record what considerations were involved.[9] 



We "review for abuse of discretion the weight given by the superior court to the factors 

in AS 25.24.150(c) for determining the best interest of a child."10                 We will not disturb 



decisions under the abuse of discretion standard unless the results are "clearly unjust."11 



                 "A factual finding is clearly erroneous when a review of the record leaves 

[us] with a definite and firm conviction that the superior court has made a mistake."12 



"The   trial   court's   factual   findings   enjoy   particular   deference   when   they   are   based 



        7        Iverson v. Griffith , 180 P.3d 943, 945 (Alaska 2008). 



        8        Smith v. Weekley, 73 P.3d 1219, 1222 (Alaska 2003) (internal citations and 



quotation marks omitted). 



        9        Id . at 1226 (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). 



        10       Barlow v. Thompson , 221 P.3d 998, 1001 (Alaska 2009). 



        11       Cartee v. Cartee, 239 P.3d 707, 712 (Alaska 2010). 



        12       Fardig   v.   Fardig ,   56   P.3d   9,   11   (Alaska   2002)   (internal   citations   and 



quotation marks omitted). 



                                                    -13-                                              6722
 


----------------------- Page 14-----------------------

primarily on oral testimony, because the trial court, not this court, judges the credibility 

of witnesses and weighs conflicting evidence."13 



                 We   review   constitutional   questions,   like   whether   there   has   been   a   due 

process violation, de novo.14 



                 We review the superior court's decision to impute income for abuse of 

discretion.15    The superior court's "determination of an obligor's imputed income is a 



factual finding that we review for clear error."16 



                 We review the superior court's property division for abuse of discretion; 

the   division   will   not   be   disturbed   "unless   it   is   clearly   unjust."17 "The   trial   court's 



determination of which date to use for purposes of valuing property is reviewed for an 

abuse of discretion."18      "The valuation of available property is a factual determination 



that should be reversed only if clearly erroneous."19 



        13       Sheffield v. Sheffield, 265 P.3d 332, 335 (Alaska 2011) (internal citations 



and quotations marks omitted). 



        14      James v. State, Dep't of Corr. , 260 P.3d 1046, 1050 (Alaska 2011). 



        15       O'Connell v. Christenson, 75 P.3d 1037, 1039 (Alaska 2003). 



        16       Sawicki v. Haxby, 186 P.3d 546, 550 (Alaska 2008). 



        17       Cartee v. Cartee, 239 P.3d 707, 712 (Alaska 2010). 



        18       Stevens v. Stevens, 265 P.3d 279, 284 (Alaska 2011).
 



        19      Id .
 



                                                   -14-                                              6722
 


----------------------- Page 15-----------------------

IV.	    DISCUSSION 



        A.	     The Superior Court Did Not Err When Making Its Custody Decisions. 



                1.	     The     superior     court    did  not   err   by   conducting      in   camera 

                        interviews of the children over Helen's objections. 



                Helen argues that the superior court violated her right to due process - 



specifically her right to know the evidence used against her at trial - when it conducted 



in camera interviews with the children. She contends that the court relied on information 



obtained   from   these   ex   parte   interviews,   but   did   not   provide   the   transcripts   of   the 



interviews to the parties for their use at trial.         This is an issue of first impression in 



Alaska.  We hold that the superior court has discretion to interview children in camera, 



and that the in camera interviews in this case did not violate Helen's due process rights. 



Our decision balances two competing interests: the due process rights of the parents to 



know and respond to evidence used at trial, and the privacy and best interests of the 



children. 



                We begin by emphasizing that in camera interviews should be used rarely, 



and only when truly necessary, because the in camera process creates a risk of infringing 

the due process rights of the parents.20      But we acknowledge there are many valid reasons 



to avoid allowing the children to become witnesses and questioned in open court, not 



least of which is the harm the child might suffer upon being forced to participate in a 



        20      See  In    re  H.R.C. ,   781   N.W.2d     105,   112   (Mich.App.      2009)   ("While 



questioning in an in camera interview does not constitute a due process violation as long 

as the interview is limited to the child's parental preferences, it is not difficult to see how 

the   use   of  an  in  camera    interview    for  fact-finding    presents   multiple    due   process 

problems:  Should questions or answers arise concerning disputed facts unrelated to the 

child's preference, there is no opportunity for the opposing party to cross-examine or 

impeach   the   witness,   or   to   present   contradictory   evidence;   nor   is   there   created   an 

appellate record that would permit a party to challenge the evidence underlying a court's 

decision.") (internal citations omitted). 



                                                  -15-	                                            6722
 


----------------------- Page 16-----------------------

public adversarial proceeding involving his or her own parents.21                   The guidelines we 



issue today are intended to assist the trial courts in considering the need to balance the 



due process rights of the parents with the best interests of the children.                 Every case is 



unique and must be considered on a case-by-case basis. Because the decision to conduct 



in camera interviews is a discretionary decision, we review that decision for abuse of 

discretion.22 



                 We first observe that if a judge does not feel well equipped or suited to 



undertake the task of conducting in camera interviews with children, or prefers not to 



conduct     such    interviews,    then   the  judge   should    seek   the  assistance     of  a  custody 



investigator or a fellow judge.          More substantively, it is widely understood, and we 



agree, that as long as the parties are given a summary of the information provided in the 



in camera interview and to be relied on at trial, the court may conduct the interview 

outside the presence of the parties and their counsel.23           However, it is important that the 



        21       See Ynclan v. Woodward, 237 P.3d 145, 150-51 (Okla. 2010). 



        22       See Lesauskis v. Lesauskis, 314 N.W.2d 767, 768-69 (Mich.App. 1981). 



        23      Id.  ("[T]his Court has repeatedly suggested that a child of tender years 



express his preference during a private conference with the judge. . . .                   [T]here is no 

authority which removes the matter from the sound discretion of the trial court. . . . The 

scope of the conference is limited to determining the child's preference only and does 

not    include    discussion     of  other    factors   germane     to   the  custody     dispute.    .  .  . 

Consequently, the utility of the presence of counsel is slight, especially when weighed 

against   the   child's   probable   reaction   to   the   foreboding   presence   of   the   mother's   or 

father's   lawyer.")   (internal   citations   omitted);   Uherek   v.   Sathe,   917   A.2d   306,   308 

(N.J.Super.   2007)   ("The   divulging        of   information    ascertained   from     the  in   camera 

interview, when relied upon by the judge in rendering a decision, is required by due 

process principles."); In re Whitaker, 522 N.E.2d 563, 568-69 (Ohio 1988) ("We do not 

believe that it is a denial of due process for the court to interview the child in camera, 

even over the objection of a party. This is especially true where the only inquiry is into 

                                                                                           (continued...) 



                                                   -16-                                              6722
 


----------------------- Page 17-----------------------

court limit the interview to the issue of the child's parental preference.24                 In camera 



interviews are not to be used as a method of obtaining additional information on other 



issues in the custody proceeding.          If a child happens to volunteer such information, the 



interview is still valid provided that, if the court intends to rely on such information, the 



parties   are   informed   in   a   manner   that   enables   them   to   adequately   respond   to   that 



information. 



                Procedurally, interviews should be conducted before trial unless the trial 



court expresses a principled reason to hold an interview at another time.  The interview 



should take place in a quiet, private area, such as judicial chambers or a jury room.  The 



interview must be recorded, but it can be sealed.   The judge should take care to explain 



to all parties involved, including the children, when the transcript of the interviews will 



become available for review by the parents and their attorneys, and what information will 

be shared with the parties.25      Parents can recommend questions for the judge to ask, but 



        23(...continued) 



the child's custodial or visitation preference, where the court informs the parties of the 

contents of the interview, or where the attorneys are present during the interview."); 

Brown v. Burch , 519 S.E.2d 403, 408 (Va.App. 1999) ("[W]e recognized that a parent 

must be accorded the benefits of due process in a custody dispute. . . . [but] in any child 

custody decision, the lodestar for the court is the best interest of the child, and the due 

process rights of the parents must be tempered by this guiding principle.") (internal 

citations and quotation marks omitted); 



        24      H.R.C. , 781 N.W.2d at 112. 



        25      The superior court in this case advised the children that the recording would 



be confidential and not provided to their parents without a further order of the court.  The 

court did not advise them it would provide a summary of their statements to the parents. 

Though no harm was caused by this omission in this case, trial courts should understand 

that the children's trust and respect for the court could be irreparably harmed if they 

perceive that the court broke promises made to them not to reveal anything from their 

                                                                                         (continued...) 



                                                  -17-                                             6722
 


----------------------- Page 18-----------------------

the judge need not follow such recommendations.              And finally, best practices suggest 



that a judicial assistant, law clerk, or other appropriate court employee should be present 



during the interview, but need not be if there is a compelling reason to the contrary. 



                Here, the court conducted in camera interviews with the three children in 



chambers.      It   recorded   the   conversations   and   then   summarized   for   the   parties   the 



information it obtained and intended to rely on.  Helen argues that, had she known Jason 



alleged that Samuel was better able to help him with his homework and shared more 



interests in common with him, she would have been able to respond directly to those 



issues at trial.  Helen is correct that such information arguably relates to factors outside 



the scope of AS 25.24.150(c)(3), but this information also is relevant to Jason's reasons 



why he had a preference to be in his father's custody.  The use of such information from 



an interview does not render the interview invalid. 



                In sum, the superior court adequately complied with the general guidelines 



we have set forth today.   The parents' due process rights were observed by the summary 



of information from the interviews provided by the court.             The court did not abuse its 



discretion in deciding to conduct in camera interviews and in the way it conducted the 



interviews. 



                2.     The superior court did not fail to consider all relevant 

                AS 25.24.150 factors or otherwise abuse its discretion in its 

                custody decision with respect to Jason, the oldest child. 



                Alaska   Statute   25.24.150(c)   mandates   that   "[t]he   court   shall   determine 



custody in accordance with the best interests of the child," and that "[i]n determining the 



best interests of the child the court shall consider": 



        25(...continued) 



interviews. 



                                                -18-                                             6722 


----------------------- Page 19-----------------------

                 (1)   the   physical,   emotional,   mental,   religious,   and   social 

                 needs of the child; 



                 (2)  the   capability   and   desire   of   each   parent   to   meet   these 

                 needs; 



                 (3) the child's preference if the child is of sufficient age and 

                 capacity to form a preference; 



                 (4) the love and affection existing between the child and each 

                 parent; 



                 (5)   the   length   of  time    the  child   has   lived   in  a  stable, 

                 satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining 

                 continuity; 



                 (6) the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and 

                 encourage a close and continuing relationship between the 

                 other   parent   and   the   child,   except   that   the   court   may   not 

                 consider this willingness and ability if one parent shows that 

                 the   other    parent   has   sexually     assaulted    or   engaged     in 

                 domestic violence against the parent or a child, and that a 

                 continuing relationship with the other parent will endanger 

                 the health or safety of either the parent or the child; 



                 (7) any evidence of domestic violence, child abuse, or child 

                 neglect in the proposed custodial household or a history of 

                 violence between the parents; 



                 (8) evidence that substance abuse by either parent or other 

                 members of the household directly affects the emotional or 

                 physical well-being of the child; 



                 (9) other factors that the court considers pertinent. 



                 Helen argues that the court considered only AS 25.24.150(c)(3) - the 



child's preference - when awarding primary physical custody of Jason to Samuel.  She 



also   argues   that   the   court   did   not   adequately   consider   Jason's   special   needs   when 



awarding custody, and that the court's visitation schedule was too restrictive.                   Helen is 



correct that the superior court's written custody decision was rather brief and focused on 



                                                    -19-                                              6722
 


----------------------- Page 20-----------------------

AS 25.24.150(c)(3).26       But when "determining the best interests of a child, the court need 



not discuss each statutory factor in detail; the court's findings will be sufficient if they 



'give   us   a   clear   indication   of   the   factors   which   [the   court]   considered   important   in 



exercising its discretion or allow us to glean from the record what considerations were 

involved.' "27 



                 Further,     as  Samuel     notes,    in  addition    to  considering      the  children's 



preferences, "Judge Pfiffner also based his final custody decision on the findings he had 



made on the record just five weeks prior to trial at the conclusion of the extensive five 



and   a half hour custody   hearing   held   on   May   31, 2011."           At the end   of the interim 



custody hearing, the court found both parties to be "good people" and "good parents," 



and that "while there have been some allegations of emotional and physical abuse and 



alcohol   and   drugs   .   .   .   there   is   really   nothing   that   I   find   at   this   point   in   time   that 



substantiates any of that."  At the beginning of the divorce proceedings in July, the court 



explained:     "My mind is completely open to hear the evidence. . . .                 Under the statute, 



I'm required to take into account the children's preferences because of their age.                       I'm 



certainly not required to do what the children want, and I'll do what I think is in the best 



interests of the children after I hear all of the evidence." 

                 There is evidence in the record that the children's stability28 would be aided 



by Jason's placement with Samuel:              The parties agreed that the relationship between 



        26       The court devoted about a half page of text to a discussion of the children's 



preferences and then wrote:   "Pursuant to all of the factors set forth in AS 25.24.150(c), 

and for all of the reasons stated on the electronic record, the court finds . . . . Mr. [K.] is 

awarded primary physical custody of [Jason] . . . ." 



        27       Ebertz   v.   Ebertz ,   113   P.3d   643,   648   (Alaska   2005)   (quoting  Smith   v. 



Weekley, 73 P.3d 1219, 1225 (Alaska 2003)). 



        28       AS 25.24.150(c)(5). 



                                                    -20-                                               6722
 


----------------------- Page 21-----------------------

Jason and his mother was contentious, and implicit in the court's decision is that the 



stability factor favored Samuel.        The court found no substantiated evidence of drug or 

alcohol abuse or domestic violence.29          The court implicitly considered the capacity of 



each parent to meet the children's needs30 and the love and affection existing between 



each parent and the children31 by finding both parties to be good parents.                 Finally, the 



court was not sufficiently concerned by Jason's ADD and his having been taken off 



medications to expand further, and in the absence of substantial evidence from Helen that 



taking Jason off his medications was actually harmful to him, that decision was within 



the court's discretion. 



                Helen also argues that the superior court erred when it scheduled Jason's 



"severely restricted" visitation.      Jason's scheduled visitation with his mother is indeed 



limited, but the above-discussed facts show that the superior court considered Jason's 



preferences and best interests when awarding visitation.             As the court explained: 



                [Jason] is a bit of a different situation.         I think somebody 

                described   [Jason]   as   kind   of   a   handful   or   -   I'm   not   sure 

                exactly what [Jason] wants.        I was not able to really pin him 

                down like you would put a pin on a dartboard . . . . 



                The squishy part, if you will, the part that I wasn't really able 

                to pin him down on was how much time he wanted to spend 

                with    Mom.      And    he  clearly   wanted    to  spend    time  with 

                Mom. . . . 



                [H]e   was   really   not   definitive   on   exactly   what   he   wanted 

                there.    But he certainly wanted one weekend a month, and 

                maybe a little bit more, but not much. 



        29      AS 25.24.150(c)(7). 



        30      AS 25.24.150(c)(2). 



        31      AS 25.24.150(c)(4). 



                                                  -21-                                               6722 


----------------------- Page 22-----------------------

                 And he wanted a couple of nights, like 5 to 8 [p.m.], a month 

                 with Mom.      And that was kind of squishy, too, because he 

                 was very definitive that he was going to be involved in some 

                 sports,   like   soccer,   and   he   didn't   want   the   visitation   with 

                 Mom to interfere with his extracurricular activities. 



Based on this information, the court awarded Helen one weekend a month with Jason 



and two evenings per month, in addition to alternating holidays and vacations. Jason was 



16 years old at the time of trial, and this can be a very important consideration: If a court 



were to order more visitation with an older teenager who has expressed reservations 



about that visitation, that order could actually prompt more friction between the parents, 



and between the parent and child.   We cannot say that the court's visitation order was an 



abuse of discretion. 



                 In   sum,   the   record   does   not   indicate   that   the   superior   court   failed   to 



consider the relevant AS 25.24.150(c) factors or other relevant evidence when making 



its custody or visitation determinations.          The superior court did not abuse its discretion 



in its custody decisions. 



                 3.	     The superior court did not abuse its discretion when it assigned 

                         Samuel the right to apply for and manage the children's PFDs. 



                 While   there   was   conflicting   testimony   on   this   matter,   nothing   in   that 



testimony indicates that the superior court abused its discretion when assigning Samuel 



the right to manage the children's PFDs.             Samuel testified that he would like to be in 



charge of filing the children's yearly PFD applications.                Helen testified:    "Typically I 



would have [Samuel] do it.          I have done it for the last couple of years, though."           Helen 



also   testified   that   Jason's   PFD   was   used   for   a   ski   pass   that   Helen   thought   was   too 



expensive, and that in general she would rather be responsible for the PFD applications 



because "stuff doesn't always get done" when Samuel is responsible for it.                     While the 



parties' testimony was conflicting, it was for the superior court to decide which parent 



                                                   -22-	                                             6722
 


----------------------- Page 23-----------------------

would better serve the children's best interests in being responsible for PFD applications. 



We hold the court's decision was not an abuse of its discretion. 



        B.	     With One Exception, The Superior Court Did Not Abuse Its Discretion 

                When Making Its Property Division. 



                1.	     The superior court did not err when it imputed income to Helen. 



                We review the superior court's decision to impute income for abuse of 

discretion.32   We will not disturb decisions under the abuse of discretion standard unless 



the results are "clearly unjust."33       The superior court's "determination of an obligor's 



imputed income is a factual finding that we review for clear error."34             "A factual finding 



is clearly erroneous when a review of the record leaves [us] with a definite and firm 

conviction that the superior court has made a mistake."35 



                In Beaudoin v. Beaudoin , in discussing imputed income, we explained that 

the objective of Civil Rule 90.3(a)(4)36 is to "give courts broad   discretion to impute 



        32	     O'Connell v. Christenson, 75 P.3d 1037, 1039 (Alaska 2003). 



        33	     Cartee v. Cartee, 239 P.3d 707, 712 (Alaska 2010). 



        34	     Sawicki v. Haxby, 186 P.3d 546, 550 (Alaska 2008). 



        35      Fardig   v.   Fardig ,   56   P.3d   9,   11   (Alaska   2002)   (internal   citations   and 



quotation marks omitted). 



        36	     Alaska Rule of Civil Procedure 90.3(a)(4) provides: 



                Potential   Income.   The   court   may      calculate   child   support 

                based on a determination of the potential income of a parent 

                who      voluntarily    and    unreasonably       is  unemployed       or 

                underemployed.        A determination of potential income may 

                not   be   made   for   a   parent   who  is   physically   or   mentally 

                incapacitated, or who is caring for a child under two years of 

                age   to   whom   the   parents   owe   a   joint   legal   responsibility. 

                Potential     income    will  be   based   upon    the  parent's    work 

                                                                                         (continued...) 



                                                  -23-	                                            6722
 


----------------------- Page 24-----------------------

income   based   on   realistic   estimates   of   earning   potential   in   cases   of   voluntary   and 



unreasonable unemployment or underemployment. . . .                  In our view, the boundaries of 



Alaska's rule are best left to be defined through case-by-case consideration based on the 

totality of relevant circumstances."37 



                In its findings of fact the court explained its decision to impute income to 



Helen: 



                The evidence presented showed that during the marriage and 

                since, Ms. [K.] [h]as chosen to limit the amount of hours she 

                works each week to 30 to 32 hours per week.  In this regard, 

                the court finds that Ms. [K.]'s decision to limit her hours to 

                30    to  32  per   week    was   the  byproduct     of  an  agreement 

                between the parties during the marriage allowing her to work 

                fewer hours in order to care for the children.           In light of the 

                divorce,     however,     this  agreement      no  longer    exists   and 

                Ms. [K.] will likely need to work a full 40 hour work week in 

                order    to  meet   her   needs   and   her  duty   of  support   to  the 

                children.     At   trial,   Ms.   [K.]'s   supervisor,   Kurt   Jacobson, 

                testified that Ms. [K.] could work 40 hours per week if she 

                wanted to. In light of this testimony, the court finds that there 

                is nothing stopping Ms. [K.] from working full time other 

                than her desire to continue working only part time. 



Helen argues that she should be allowed to continue her reduced work schedule in order 



to be available for the children and to reduce the risk of repetitive use injuries that can 



result from working as a sonographer.   She argues that her current income is sufficient, 



and that her employer does not need her to assume more hours.                     Samuel counters by 



        36(...continued) 



                history, qualifications, and job opportunities.   The court also 

                may impute potential income for non-income or low income 

                producing assets. 



        37      24 P.3d 523, 530-31 (Alaska 2001) (emphasis omitted). 



                                                  -24-                                             6722
 


----------------------- Page 25-----------------------

emphasizing   both   the   superior   court's   discretion   in   the   matter   and   the   testimony   of 



Helen's boss suggesting that more hours would be available to her if she requested them. 



                 In making its decision, the superior court relied on Helen's supervisor's 



belief that "there [is] work available to give [Helen] an extra eight hours a week."  The 



court   acknowledged   that   when   they   were   married   Helen   and   Samuel   had   made   the 



decision that Helen would work fewer hours so that she could devote more time to the 



parties' children.  The court explained, however, that "this agreement no longer exists" 



in light of the parties' divorce.   The court further reasoned that "[t]here was no evidence 



presented" to show that Helen had a legitimate reason under Alaska Civil Rule 90.3 for 



underemployment.  This is an issue left to the superior court's sound discretion, and we 



hold the court's decision was not an abuse of its discretion. 



                 2.	     The superior court did not abuse its discretion when it ordered 

                         the marital assets to be split equally. 



                 Under AS 25.24.160(a)(4), "the division of property must fairly allocate the 



economic effect of divorce by being based on consideration of the following factors": 



                 (A) the length of the marriage and station in life of the parties 

                 during the marriage; 



                 (B) the age and health of the parties; 



                 (C)  the    earning    capacity    of  the   parties,   including    their 

                 educational backgrounds, training, employment skills, work 

                 experiences,   length      of   absence   from   the   job   market,   and 

                 custodial responsibilities for children during the marriage; 



                 (D)  the    financial   condition     of  the  parties,   including    the 

                 availability and cost of health insurance; 



                 (E) the conduct of the parties, including whether there has 

                been unreasonable depletion of marital assets; 



                 (F) the desirability of awarding the family home, or the right 

                 to live in it for a reasonable period of time, to the party who 

                 has primary physical custody of children; 



                                                   -25-	                                             6722
 


----------------------- Page 26-----------------------

                (G) the circumstances and necessities of each party; 



                (H) the time and manner   of   acquisition of the property in 

                question; and 



                (I) the income-producing capacity of the property and the 

                value of the property at the time of division. 

"An equal division of marital property is presumptively just,"38 and on appeal "this court 



will only disturb a property division if it is clearly unjust."39 



                Helen argues that the length of the marriage, her lesser earning capacity, 



and her health concerns render the superior court's equal property division an abuse of 



discretion.   She does not, however, engage with the presumption that an equal division 



of marital property is equitable, but only claims that the superior court's decision was 



rendered "without significant explanation." 



                The superior court acknowledged the "factors and considerations set forth 



in AS 25.24.160" and discussed several of those factors in its findings of fact.  The court 



noted, for example, that (1) "both parties are gainfully employed," (2) "both parties have 



excellent benefits available to them through their employers," (3) "[b]oth parties are in 



reasonably good health," (4) Helen is six years younger than Samuel and therefore "has 



a longer work expectancy . . . to recover from the economic effects of this divorce," and 



(5)   "[b]oth   parties   are   leaving   the   marriage   with   significant   assets   and   very   little 



consumer debt." 



                On   appeal   Helen   characterized   her   case   as   "a   long   term   marriage   with 



[Samuel] having much greater income potential and [Helen] having health challenges." 



        38      Berry v. Berry , 978 P.2d 93, 96 (Alaska 1999); see also Brown v. Brown , 



914 P.2d 206, 209 (Alaska 1996); Hayes v. Hayes , 756 P.2d 298, 300 (Alaska 1988); 

Wanberg v. Wanberg, 664 P.2d 568, 574-75 (Alaska 1983). 



        39      Brown , 914 P.2d at 208-09. 



                                                  -26-                                               6722 


----------------------- Page 27-----------------------

But the superior court specifically found that both parties were in "reasonably good 



health" and should be able to continue working in the future.   The court also found both 



parties to be "gainfully employed" and noted that if Helen chose to work 40 hours per 



week, then her income would be very near that of Samuel's.  And while the court did not 



specifically consider the length of the parties' marriage, "the trial court need not make 



findings pertaining to each factor," so long as its findings are "sufficient to indicate the 

factual basis for the conclusion reached."40     We perceive neither clear error nor an abuse 



of discretion with the superior court's property division.41 



               3.	     It was error not to value Samuel's capital stock as of the date of 

                       trial. 



               Both parties acknowledge that the date of valuation of property should be 

as close as practicable to the date of trial.42    They disagree, however, as to the value of 



the capital stock at the time of trial.     "The valuation of available property is a factual 

determination that should be reversed only if clearly erroneous."43 



               As explained above, Samuel's company last valued its capital shares on 



August 16, 2010, at $1,033.38 per share.   At this valuation, Samuel's 200 shares would 



be worth $206,676.       The shares were set to be re-valued after the trial, no later than 



August 9, 2011, with a drop in value expected.   At the time of trial, July 6, 2011, Mearig 



valued the shares at $638.40 per share, and because Samuel had 200 shares, he set the 



value of Samuel's shares at $127,680.          But Mearig also testified that as   recently as 



        40      Young v. Lowery, 221 P.3d 1006, 1014 (Alaska 2009) (internal citation and 



quotation marks omitted). 



        41     Fardig v. Fardig , 56 P.3d 9, 11 (Alaska 2002). 



        42     Ramsey v. Ramsey , 834 P.2d 807, 809 (Alaska 1992); Ogard v. Ogard, 808 



P.2d 815, 819 (Alaska 1991). 



        43     Berry , 978 P.2d at 95. 



                                               -27-	                                          6722
 


----------------------- Page 28-----------------------

June 21, 2011, USKH had bought back another shareholder's 200 shares at $1,033 per 

share, for a total value of $206,600.44 



                The superior court found that the fair market value of Samuel's capital 



stock was $133,475.49, or $677.38 per share.   In so finding, it relied on the presumption 



that fair market value is "the amount at which property would change hands, between a 

willing buyer and a willing seller."45       The court believed that, due to the expected drop 



in value of the shares, "no reasonable buyer would pay more than $133,475.49 for the 



shares at this time." 



                We conclude that it was clear error for the court to rely on a possible but 



uncertain future stock valuation when very recent evidence of the stock's actual value 



was available:     Approximately two weeks before trial, the company purchased another 



shareholder's   capital   stock   for   $206,600,   at   $1,033   per   share. This   was   essentially 



contemporaneous evidence of the validity of the existing share price in Samuel's stock 



agreement with USKH and the actual value of Samuel's capital stock.                     The superior 



court's valuation is reversed and the property division is remanded for the court to adjust 



the property division to achieve an equal distribution in light of Samuel's capital stock's 



proper value. 



                4.	     The superior court did not err in its valuation and distribution 

                        of the couple's marital property. 



                Helen appeals the valuation and allocation of the parties' boat, household 



furnishings, exercise equipment, guns, and second washer, dryer, and refrigerator.  She 



argues the court demonstrated a pattern of valuing the property by adopting Samuel's 



values. She also argues that the individual valuations were themselves clearly erroneous. 



        44      The shares were bought over time as per the buyback agreement. 



        45      Fortson v. Fortson , 131 P.3d 451, 462 n.35 (Alaska 2006) (citing Doyle v. 



Doyle , 815 P.2d 366, 370 n.6 (Alaska 1991)). 



                                                  -28-                                              6722 


----------------------- Page 29-----------------------

                As explained above, the superior court heard testimony and took evidence 



regarding the property in question.         While the testimony and evidence could lead to 



alternate findings, nothing in the record provides us with a definite and firm conviction 

that   the  superior    court  made    a  mistake.46    The     superior   court's   valuations    and 



distributions   of   the   contested   property   were   not   clearly   erroneous   and   are   therefore 



affirmed. 



        C.      The Superior Court Did Not Err By Finding That Helen "Shall" Retain 

                Her Married Name. 



                In its findings of facts and conclusions of law, the court found "that Ms. 



[K.] shall retain her married name."   Helen argues that the superior court ordered her to 



retain her married name without her consent, thereby causing her additional expense and 



time delay.    But the record does not reveal that she ever asked the court to restore her 



former name.      In the absence of such a request, the court did not err in ordering that 



Helen would keep her married name. If Helen wants to change her name, she may either 



file a Civil Rule 60(b) motion with the superior court in this case or file a new petition 

for change of name pursuant to AS 09.55.010 and Alaska Rule of Civil Procedure 84.47 



V.      CONCLUSION 



                The superior court's decision regarding the value of Samuel's capital stock 



is REVERSED and REMANDED for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. 



On all other issues, the decision of the superior court is AFFIRMED. 



        46      Fardig , 56 P.3d at 11 (internal citations and quotation marks omitted). 



        47      AS 09.55.010 explains: "A person may bring an action for change of name 



in the superior court."     Alaska Civil Rule 84 is entitled "Change of Name" and Rule 

84(a)   explains:   "Every   action   for   change   of   name   shall   be   commenced   by   filing   a 

verified petition entitled in the name of petitioner, showing the name which petitioner 

desires to adopt and setting forth the reasons for requesting a change of name." 



                                                 -29-                                             6722 

Case Law
Statutes, Regs & Rules
Constitutions
Miscellaneous


IT Advice, Support, Data Recovery & Computer Forensics.
(907) 338-8188

Please help us support these and other worthy organizations:
Law Project for Psychiatraic Rights
Soteria-alaska
Choices
AWAIC