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You can search the entire site. or go to the recent opinions, or the chronological or subject indices. Norris v. Norris (3/27/2015) sp-6993

Norris v. Norris (3/27/2015) sp-6993

         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  

                                                                                       

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                   THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF ALASKA  



BRIANA A. NORRIS,                                      )  

                                                       )         Supreme Court No. S-15439  

                   Appellant,                          )  

                                                       )         Superior Court No. 4FA-12-02918 CI  

         v.                                            )  

                                                       )         O P I N I O N  

RICHARD K. NORRIS,                                     )  

                                                       )         No. 6993 - March 27, 2015  

                   Appellee.                           )  

_______________________________ )  



                   Appeal  from  the  Superior  Court  of  the  State  of  Alaska,  

                   Fourth Judicial District, Fairbanks, Paul R. Lyle, Judge.   



                   Appearances:  Megan  C.  Comolli  and  Jason  A.  Weiner,  

                   Gazewood & Weiner, P.C., Fairbanks, for Appellant.  Amy  

                                                           

                   Tallerico, Downes &  Tallerico Law Firm, LLC, Fairbanks,  

                                                                               

                   for Appellee.   



                   Before: Fabe, Chief Justice, Winfree, Stowers, Maassen, and  

                                

                   Bolger, Justices.  



                   STOWERS, Justice.  



I.       INTRODUCTION  



                   A married couple moved from Fairbanks to Mississippi to "start a new life"  

                       



and work on their marriage.  After living in Mississippi for a few months the husband  

                                                                                                        



filed  for  divorce,  and  a  Mississippi  court  entered  a  temporary  child  custody  order  



awarding the couple joint physical custody of their child.  A few months later the mother  

                                                                                         



fled to Alaska with the child and filed for divorce in the Alaska Superior Court.  The  

           


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

 superior court dismissed the mother's action, concluding that Mississippi had exclusive  

                                                                                                        



jurisdiction  over  the  matter  under  the  Uniform  Child  Custody  Jurisdiction  and  



                                                  1  

                                                     We affirm.  Mississippi had jurisdiction when it issued  

Enforcement Act (UCCJEA).  



                                                          

its temporary child custody order because (1) Alaska did not have home state or recent  



                                                                                        

home state jurisdiction when the father filed his suit in Mississippi, and (2) the child had  



a significant connection to Mississippi and substantial evidence was available there.  



II.         FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS  



            A.         Facts  



                                                         2                               3 

                       Richard Keith Norris  and Briana Belisle  met in Fairbanks while Keith was 



 stationed at Fort Wainwright.  Briana had lived in Fairbanks since 2006; Keith was born  

                                                                                                                          



and  raised  in  Mississippi.    The  two  became  romantically  involved  and  had  a  child,  



           4                                                                   5 

Grant,  who was born in July 2011 in Fairbanks.   Briana and Keith married immediately  

                                                                                               



after Grant's birth, but they quickly began experiencing marital problems.  The couple  

                                                              



decided to move to Keith's hometown in Mississippi to "start a new life" and work on  

                                                                                                             



their marriage.  



                                              

                       The  military  moved  all  of  the  couple's  possessions  to  Mississippi  in  



                    

July 2012, including their only vehicle.  Keith registered the vehicle upon arrival, and  



            1          UNIF . C     HILD CUSTODY JURISDICTION  &  ENFORCEMENT ACT  202 (1997).  



In Alaska the UCCJEA is codified at AS 25.30.300-910.  



            2          We refer to Richard as Keith throughout this opinion because that is his  



apparent preference.  



            3          Belisle is Briana's maiden name.  



            4          Pseudonyms have been used to protect the children's privacy.  



            5          Briana has another child, Miles, from a previous relationship.  Custody of   



Miles is not at issue in this case.  



                                                                       -2-                                                               6993
  


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

                                                                                                       

both parties filled out and submitted change-of-address forms.  Briana testified that she  



only "left a few things" in Fairbanks, including her sneakers and a sewing machine.  



Both Briana and Keith opened bank accounts in Mississippi, and Briana applied for and  



                                                                                     

received Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) assistance. The parties initially lived with  



Keith's parents and discussed buying a house.  Keith's parents even took them to look  



at one.  But the couple ultimately rented a house for at least a one-year term.  Both  



                                                                                                         

parties signed the lease.  Briana fully unpacked, painted the boys' room, and hung art on  



                                                                                  

the walls.  Keith began taking college classes  during  the day and working at night.  



                                                                                                      

Briana found a job working at a delicatessen, but she eventually quit.  Briana and Keith  



                                                                                   

found a doctor for the boys, and Grant and Miles saw the doctor a handful of times while  



in Mississippi.  



                                                           

                   In early September  2012  Keith moved out of the home and the parties  



                                                                             

began informally sharing custody of Grant.  Briana testified that in September she told  



Keith that she and the boys were returning to Alaska permanently.  She testified that  



                                                                                           

Keith "was not happy about it" and "wanted to get something in writing before we had  



left."  Keith testified that he did not agree to a permanent return.  In late September  



Briana sent him a text message saying that she was taking Grant back to Alaska and was  



                                                                                                                   

going to "take Keith for everything he was worth."   After this, Keith spoke with the  



police  and  took  custody  of  Grant  to  stop  Briana  from  leaving  the  state  with  him.  



          B.       Proceedings  



                                                                                                         

                   Keith filed for divorce in Mississippi on October 2, 2012.  The parties met  



                                                     

in court a week later and signed a temporary custody order.  Briana alleges that she  



signed the order under duress, while Keith's former attorney testified that Briana initiated  



discussion of the temporary order and negotiated its terms with him.  The temporary  



                                                                       

order gave the parties joint legal and physical custody and barred both parents from  



                                                             -3-                                                       6993
  


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

taking Grant more than 100 miles from the county without written consent from the other     



parent.  



                                                                                                             

                     Two months later Briana violated this order by taking  Grant to Alaska  



                                                                                    

without Keith's written consent.  She filed for divorce in the superior court in Fairbanks  



                                     6  

                                        Keith moved to dismiss the Alaska action for lack of subject  

on December 26, 2012.                                                                                     



matter jurisdiction, arguing that Mississippi assumed exclusive jurisdiction over the case  

                                                                                                                    



by entering the first child custody order.  



                                                                                     

                     The superior court held two hearings on the motion before concluding in  



                                                                                                      

its oral ruling that Mississippi lacked jurisdiction when it issued its October child custody  



                                                                                                           

order because Alaska still had home state jurisdiction.  The superior court reached this  



conclusion by including the time Grant lived in Mississippi towards its Alaska home  



                                         

state calculation.  But the court offered to revisit the issue of jurisdiction if either party  



filed a motion for reconsideration.  



                     Keith       moved         for     reconsideration            on     September           30,     2013.       On  



                                                                                                        

December 13, 2013, the superior court issued an order stating that it needed to conduct  



                                                                     

a  hearing  to  decide  whether  the  move  to  Mississippi  in  July  2012  was  temporary,  



                                                                            

whether  Grant  had  significant  connections  to  Mississippi,  and  whether  substantial  



evidence relating to his care was available there in order to determine which state had  



jurisdiction when Keith filed the first divorce action in Mississippi.  



                                                                                                                 

                     The court held an evidentiary hearing a few days later, on December 17.  



                                           

 Several witnesses testified that both before and after the couple arrived in Mississippi,  



                                                                                     

Briana always said the move was permanent.  Keith's mother testified that Briana told  



her that even if Briana's relationship with Keith did not work out, Briana was planning  



to stay in Mississippi to be close to the boys.  One witness testified that Briana wished  



           6         The Mississippi court thereafter awarded sole physical custody to Keith.  



                                                                 -4-                                                              6993  


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

                                                                                                           

to "start . . . somewhere different for her."  Multiple witnesses also testified that the  



couple had discussed purchasing a house in Mississippi, and that once they rented a  



                                                         

house  they  completely  moved  in.                     Keith's  mother  testified  that  Briana  had  sought  



                                                        

information about schools for Miles and was trying to get him registered for Head Start  



                                 

in Mississippi.  And one witness testified that even during the separation, Briana "had  



                                        

no intentions [of] moving away from Mississippi," had moved her cousin into the house,  



and was looking for a job.  



                                                                  

                    Other witnesses testified that the move was temporary.  A few testified that  



                                                   

Briana was worried that the heat in Mississippi could aggravate a medical condition she  



had.  One witness testified that "[t]hey were fighting all the time. . . .  This was like a  



                                                                                                   

last-ditch try to keep their marriage going."  Briana testified that she intended the move  



                                                       

to be a six-month trial run and that she planned to return to Alaska with the boys if her  



                                                 

relationship with Keith did not work out.  But none of the witnesses could point to any  



                                                                                                               

specific plans to return to Alaska at the time of the move; "[a]s far as [one witness] knew,  



they were leaving [Alaska] for good," and another witness explained that "they didn't  



know what was going to happen when they got [to Mississippi]."  



                                                                                                          

                    Keith and his mother testified that Grant and Miles saw Keith's parents at  



                                                                                           

least every other day.  The boys spent holidays with family members, and Keith's aunts  



and uncles on both sides of his family frequently visited their house.  One of Keith's  



                                                                                                                   

friends testified that Grant often played with his son.  Grant also attended church with  



                                                                                                                   

Keith  and  would  "interact  with  the  congregation  there  during  summer  school  and  



daycare."  



                    The superior court issued a written decision on January 2, 2014, dismissing  



                                      

the Alaska case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.  The court found that the move to  



                                                                                             

Mississippi was permanent because the parties moved all of their possessions, enrolled  



                                                                     

the children in child care, found jobs, entered into a long-term lease, and applied for state  



                                                                -5-                                                         6993
  


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

                                                          

assistance.  The superior court also  found that Grant had a significant connection to  



                                                                                       

Mississippi and that substantial evidence was available there.  Based on these findings  



           7 

              

of fact,  the superior court concluded that when the Mississippi action was filed, neither 

Alaska nor Mississippi was Grant's home state8 because the parties had permanently  



                                                                                                                        

moved to Mississippi but had not yet been in residence there for six months.  The court  



                                                                                                

concluded that under these circumstances Mississippi would have jurisdiction because  



Grant had a significant connection to that state and substantial evidence was available  



                                        

there.  The superior court concluded that Mississippi had exclusive jurisdiction under the  



UCCJEA  as  the  first  court  to  issue  a  child  custody  determination.    Briana  appeals.  



          7          The  superior  court   framed  these   issues  -   permanence  of  the  move,  



temporary absence, significant connections, and substantial evidence - as questions of                          

fact.  Neither party directly challenges this conclusion on appeal, so we will review the  

issues as though they are factual. We note that there is significant disagreement regarding        

the standard of review under the UCCJEA for the permanency of a move, temporary  

absence, significant connections, and substantial evidence.  In Khawam v. Wolfe , a recent  

                                                                                                              

District of Columbia case, the court noted that it had not "decided whether 'significant  

                                                                                         

connection'  and  'substantial  evidence'  determinations  under  the  UCCJEA  are  legal  

rulings to be reviewed de novo or instead should be reviewed deferentially."  84 A.3d  

                 

558,  563  (D.C.  2014).    The  Khawam  court  looked  to  other  courts,  explaining  that  

"[c]ourts in other jurisdictions take varying approaches to that question." Id. It compared  

                                                                                                                     

our decision in Steven v. Nicole, 308 P.3d 875, 879 (Alaska 2013), which reviewed  

                                                                                    

whether substantial evidence existed for abuse of discretion, with In re Marriage of  

Sareen,  62  Cal.  Rptr.  3d  687,  691,  695  (Cal.  App.  2007),  which  reviewed  de  novo  

                                                                          

whether there was a significant connection, substantial evidence, and whether the move  

                                                                                      

was temporary.  Id.  Because no party has briefed the standard of review issue, we do not  

                                                                                  

decide it here. But we note that our statement in Steven that whether substantial evidence  

                                                 

exists should be reviewed for an abuse of discretion was likely erroneous.  See 308 P.3d  

                                                   

at 879.  Because the parties did not brief this issue, we leave it to be decided in a future  

                                            

case.  



          8          See AS 25.30.909(7) (defining home state as the state in which the child has  



lived for the six months immediately preceding the action).  



                                                                 -6-                                                          6993
  


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

III.      STANDARD OF REVIEW  



                    "Whether a court can exercise jurisdiction under the UCCJEA is a question  

                                                                                                    

                                                     9  We review any underlying factual determinations  

of law, which we review de novo."  

                                                                           



                       10  

for clear error.           "A factual finding is clearly erroneous when a review of the record  



leaves the court with a definite and firm conviction that the superior court has made a  

                                  



               11  

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

                                                                                                                



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

                           

credibility of witnesses and weighs conflicting evidence."12  



                    We   review   the   superior   court's   procedural   decisions   for   abuse   of  

discretion.13  



IV.       DISCUSSION  



                    Briana argues that  (1) Alaska has jurisdiction because Mississippi did not  

                                                                                                                           



have jurisdiction under the UCCJEA when it issued its initial custody order and (2) the  

                                                          



superior court abused its discretion during the reconsideration proceedings by holding  

                                        



an evidentiary hearing and in the timing of its reconsideration.  



          9         Steven, 308 P.3d at 879.  



          10        Limeres v. Limeres , 320 P.3d 291, 295 (Alaska 2014) (reviewing factual       



findings for clear error).  



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

                                                                                        

Siekawich, 956 P.2d 447, 449, (Alaska 1998)) (internal quotation marks omitted).  



          12        Limeres , 320 P.3d at 296 (quoting Sheffield v. Sheffield, 265 P.3d 332, 335  

                                                                                       

(Alaska 2011)) (internal quotation marks omitted).  



          13        Rockstad v. Erikson , 113 P.3d 1215, 1220 (Alaska 2005).  



                                                                -7-                                                         6993
  


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

                                                                                            

           A.	       The Superior Court Did Not Err When It Concluded That Mississippi  

                     Had Exclusive Jurisdiction.  



                     The superior court correctly recognized that whether it had jurisdiction was  



linked  to  whether  the  parties'  move  to  Mississippi  in  July  2012  was  permanent.  



Generally, a state may make a child custody determination only if another state has not  



already done so, or if the other state did not have proper jurisdiction when it issued its  



                       14  

                                                                                                  

custody order.             At the time Briana filed her action in Alaska, Keith had already filed an  



action in Mississippi and remained in that state; thus, Alaska can only take jurisdiction  



if the Mississippi court did not have jurisdiction when the first action was filed.  



                                                                                                                             15 

                                                                                                                                 First,  

                     There are three relevant ways in which a court can gain jurisdiction. 



                                                                            

a court has jurisdiction if the state in which the court sits "is the home state of the child  



                                                                                    16  

on the date of the commencement of the proceeding."                                     Second, a court has jurisdiction  



when the court's "state 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  



           14        Under the UCCJEA, as adopted in Alaska, once one state court has made       



"a child custody determination consistent with AS 25.30.300 or 25.30.320" then that  

court "has exclusive, continuing jurisdiction over the determination." Thus, once a court  

                                                                                                              

in a sister state has made a custody decision, the Alaska court must determine whether  

                                                                         

that decision was "consistent with AS 25.30.300 or 25.30.320," the provisions that gives  

a court jurisdiction.  If the court in the sister state issuing the decision had jurisdiction,  

                                                              

then Alaska can only exercise emergency jurisdiction, absent a change in circumstances.  

See  AS  25.30.310  (exclusive  jurisdiction);  AS  25.30.330  (temporary  emergency  

jurisdiction); AS 25.30.350 (simultaneous proceedings).  



           15  

                                                                                                                 

                     There are two other jurisdictional bases of AS 25.30.300, but they are not  

                                                                                

relevant to this appeal.  Those two provisions deal with situations in which the child has  

                                                        

no home state and any state with a significant connection has declined jurisdiction.  See  

AS 25.30.300(a)(4)-(5).  



           16        AS 25.30.300(a)(1).  



                                                                  -8-	                                                           6993
  


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

                                                                               17  

person acting as a parent continues to live in this state."                        "[H]ome state" is defined as  



                                               

"the state in which a child lived with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least  



six consecutive months, including any  temporary absences  of the child or parent or  



person acting as a parent,  immediately before the commencement of a child custody  

proceeding."18  Thus, a state may retain home state jurisdiction if all the parties are absent  



                                                                                           19  

from the state, but only if the absence is a "temporary absence."                              Finally, a court can  



have jurisdiction when no other state has jurisdiction under the first two provisions, so  

                                       



long as the child and at least one parent have a significant connection to the state and  

                                                                                                         

substantial evidence relevant to the child's care is located in the state.20  



                   1.	      Grant did not have a home state when the Mississippi action  

                                                                                          

                            was filed.  



                   Briana argues that the superior court erred when it concluded that Alaska  

                                                                                            



was not Grant's home state because the move to Mississippi was a "temporary absence."  

                                                                 



Keith replies that when  the  couple permanently moved to Mississippi in July 2012,  



Alaska lost home state jurisdiction.  If the absence from Alaska was temporary, then  



Alaska was Grant's home state for the duration of his time in Mississippi; if the move  



                                                                                                     

was permanent, then Alaska lost home state jurisdiction when Grant left the state in  



               21  

                   The superior court found "it more likely true than not true that the parties  

July 2012.                                                          



          17	      AS 25.30.300(a)(2).  



          18       AS 25.30.909(7) (emphasis added).  



          19       See id.; AS 25.30.300.  



         20        AS 25.30.300(a)(3)(A)-(B).  



         21        See AS 25.30.300; AS 25.30.909(7).  



                                                           -9-	                                                    6993
  


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

                                                            

intended  their  move  to  Mississippi  to  be  permanent  when  they  left  Alaska  in  

July 2012."22  



                                         

                     Based on the totality of the circumstances, the superior court did not clearly  



                                                                                                                      

err when it found that the move from Alaska to Mississippi was permanent.  While the  



                                                                     

record contains some evidence supporting an intention to move temporarily, the majority  



                                                                                                            

of the evidence points to a permanent move.  The parties moved all of their belongings  



                                                                   

to Mississippi, re-registered their car, found work, applied for public assistance, enrolled  



                                                                                                                  

the children in daycare, found a doctor for the children, and entered into a lease of at  



least a year's duration in Mississippi.  Credible witnesses testified that the parties had  



                                                                                         

discussed buying a house in Mississippi.  And most of the witnesses, even the ones who  



          22        As the superior court noted, we have not adopted a definition of "temporary  



absences."  The UCCJEA also does not define "temporary absences."  Other jurisdictions  

have  used  varying  tests  to  determine  whether  an  absence  is  temporary,  including:  

                                            

"(1) looking at the duration of absence, (2) examining whether the parties intended the  

absence to be permanent or temporary, and (3) adopting a totality of the circumstances  

                                                                                        

approach   to  determine  whether  the  absence  was  merely  a  temporary  absence."  

                

Chick   v.   Chick,   596   S.E.2d   303,   308   (N.C.   App.   2004)   (citing   T.H.   v.   A.S.,  

                                                                                                                       

938  S.W.2d  910  (Mo.  App.  1997));  see  also  In  re  S.M.,  938  S.W.2d  910,  918  

(Mo. App. 1997) (examining other approaches).  In the past we have looked to all of the  

                                                                                                         

relevant  circumstances  in  order  to  decide  whether  an  absence  was  temporary.  See  

                                                                                                     

Atkins v. Virgil , 59 P.3d 255, 257-58 (Alaska 2002) (per curiam) (looking to the parties'  

                                      

intentions, not merely the child's physical presence in another state).  We believe the  

totality of the circumstances test "is best suited to adequately deal with the variety of  

situations which occur" in child custody proceedings.  In re S.M. , 938 S.W.2d at 918;  

                                                   

see also Chick, 596 S.E.2d at 308 ("[The totality of the circumstances test] provides  

                                                                                   

greater flexibility to the court making the determination by allowing for consideration  

                                                                 

of additional circumstances that may be presented in the multiplicity of factual settings  

                                                                                       

in which child custody jurisdictional issues may arise.").  



                                                               -10-                                                         6993
  


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

testified the move was temporary, indicated that the parties were moving to Mississippi  

                                                                                                

to start over and work on their marriage.23  



                                                                                                          

                    Because the move was permanent, Grant had not lived in Alaska for "six  



consecutive months . . . immediately before the commencement" of the child custody  



                                                                     24  

                                                                           Thus,  at  the  time  the  Mississippi  

proceeding  in  Mississippi  in  October  2012. 



                                                           

proceeding was filed, Alaska was not Grant's home state.  But Mississippi was not  



                                                             

Grant's home state either, because Grant had only lived in Mississippi for three months  



                                                                                                      

at the time the Mississippi proceeding commenced, not the six months required for home  



                 25  

                     The superior court did not err when it concluded that Grant did not have  

state status.                                                                                                 



a home state when the October 2012 Mississippi proceedings were initiated.  



                    2.	      Mississippi          had      jurisdiction         when       Keith       filed     the    first  

                             proceeding.  



                    Neither of the UCCJEA's first two jurisdictional bases apply to this case.  

                                                                  



Under the first - home state jurisdiction - a court that is the home state of the child  

                 

may make a custody decision,26 but as explained above, Grant did not have a home state  

                                                                        



in October 2012. The second jurisdictional basis - recent home state jurisdiction -  

                                                                                                          



          23        The court also did not clearly err when it found that Keith did not agree that     



Briana would permanently return with the boys to Alaska.  Keith spoke to a lawyer  

immediately after he discovered she was leaving and kept Grant in his custody.  And  

                                                                                                           

Briana's aunt, Marcy McGraw, only testified that Keith knew Briana had bought plane  

                                                                          

tickets to Alaska; she did not testify that he consented to a permanent move.  Keith's  

timing  in  talking  with  a  lawyer  and  withholding  Grant  immediately  after  that  

                                                                                            

conversation supports the finding that he did not agree that Grant would permanently  

return to Alaska.  



          24        AS. 25.30.909(7) (emphasis added).  



          25        See id.  



          26        AS 25.30.300(a)(1).  



                                                             -11-	                                                      6993
  


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

                                                                                

confers jurisdiction on a state when that state "was the home state of the child within six  



months before the commencement of the proceeding and the child is absent from this  



                                                                                                              27 

                                                                                                                  Although  

state but a parent or person acting as a parent continues to live in this state." 



Alaska had been Grant's home state within the last six months, no "parent or person  



                                             

acting as a parent continue[d] to live in [Alaska]" when the Mississippi action was filed;  



thus, this provision is also inapplicable to ground jurisdiction in Alaska.  



                    Under  the  third  jurisdictional  basis,  a  state  may  make  an  initial  child  



                                                                            

custody determination when another state does not have jurisdiction under either home  



                                                                         28  

                                                                                                      

state jurisdiction or recent home state jurisdiction.                        But "the child . . . and at least one  



                                                                                     

parent [must] . . . have a significant connection with [the] state other than mere physical  



presence," and "substantial evidence [must be] available in [the] state concerning the  



          27        AS 25.30.300(a)(2) (emphasis added).  



          28        AS 25.30.300(a) provides:  



                                                                                        

                    [A] court of this state has jurisdiction to make an initial child  

                                                                 

                    custody determination only if  

                    . . . .  



                    (3) a court of another state does not have jurisdiction under  

                    provisions substantially similar to [home state jurisdiction] or  

                                                                                

                    [recent home state jurisdiction], 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 . . . , 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[.]  



                                                             -12-                                                       6993
  


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

                                                                                             29  

                                                                                                                 

child's care, protection, training, and personal relationships."                                 In Steven v. Nicole we  



affirmed the superior court's finding that substantial evidence was available in Alaska  



                                                                                                      30  

even though the children had not lived here full-time for eight years.                                    The children still  



                                                                                                                  

visited Alaska, and we held that evidence relevant to the mother's lifestyle and home in  



                                                                        31  

Alaska  would  be  relevant  to  the  proceeding.                             And  in  Mikesell  v.  Waterman  we  



intimated that substantial evidence existed in New Mexico although the child no longer  



                 32 

                                                                                             

lived there.         The child still visited New Mexico on vacation, had previously lived there,  

and one of the parents still lived there.33  



                                                          

                    Here the superior court found that Grant had a significant connection to  



                                                                                                                 

Mississippi and that substantial evidence of his care, protection, training, and personal  



                                                       34  

                                                                                                     

relationships  could  be  found  there.                      Briana  argues  that  these  findings  are  clearly  



                35  

                                               

erroneous.           But the superior court's findings are supported by the record.  At the time  



                                          

the Mississippi action was filed, Grant and both his parents lived in Mississippi.  Grant  



          29        AS 25.30.300(a)(3)(A)-(B).  



          30         308 P.3d 875, 879-82 (Alaska 2013).  



          31        Id. at 879-80.  



          32         197 P.3d 184, 189 (Alaska 2008).  



          33        Id.  



          34        There is no dispute regarding Keith's connection to Mississippi:  he was  



born and raised in Mississippi and continues to be a resident there.  



          35        Briana  mainly  argues  that  the  superior  court  erred  because  Grant's  



connection to Alaska was more significant.  But the superior court never found that  

Grant's connections to Mississippi were more significant than his connections to Alaska,  

                                                                                      

just that his connections to Mississippi were significant.  The statute does not ask which  

                                                                                       

connections  are  more  significant,  it  asks  only  if  significant  connections  exist.  See  

                                                                           

AS 25.30.300(a)(3)(A).  Therefore, Briana's argument is misplaced.  



                                                               -13-                                                        6993
  


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

has extended family in Mississippi, whom he saw regularly.  He had a primary doctor  



                                                                                               

and a daycare center that he attended.  And he had a friend he played with and other  



children and adults he associated with at summer school.  The superior court did not  



                      

clearly err in finding that Grant had a significant connection to Mississippi and that  



substantial evidence would be available there.  



                                                                                                          

                    Because Grant had a significant connection to Mississippi and substantial  



                                                                       

relevant evidence was located there, Mississippi had jurisdiction when Keith initiated the  



                                                               

October 2012 child custody action.  And once a child custody proceeding had "been  



previously commenced in a court of another state having jurisdiction substantially in  

conformity  with  this  chapter,"  Alaska  no  longer  could  exercise  jurisdiction.36                                  The  



              

superior court did not err by dismissing the case after it concluded that it did not have  



subject matter jurisdiction.  



          B.	       The Superior Court Did Not Abuse Its Discretion During Its Review  

                    Of The Motion For Reconsideration.  



                    Briana  argues  that  the  superior  court  should  not  have  accepted  new  



evidence on reconsideration and that the motion was deemed denied by operation of  



                                                                   

Alaska Civil Rule 77(k)(4) because the court issued its decision more than 30 days after  



she filed her response brief.  Neither argument has merit.  



                                                                                                                  

                    Here, the superior court realized it had incorrectly analyzed the issue and  



                                                        

also realized that it needed to conduct an evidentiary hearing to resolve lingering factual  



                                                                                                  

issues.  Although reconsideration should not be "used as a means to seek an extension  

of time for the presentation of additional evidence on the merits of [a] claim,"37 the  



                                                                                                              

superior court must "be allowed to reconsider and reverse an earlier ruling if convinced  



          36        AS 25.30.350.  



          37       Neil & Co. v. Ass'n of Vill. Council Presidents Reg'l Hous. Auth.                             , 895 P.2d  



497, 506 (Alaska 1995).  



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

                                                     38  

                                                                          

that the earlier ruling was erroneous."                  Regarding Briana's second argument, the parties  



                                                

were well informed a ruling on the motion would be forthcoming and the 30-day time  



period  set  out  in  Rule  77(k)(4)  was  not  applicable  because  the  court  may  address  



                                                                           39  

                                                                               The superior court did not abuse  

questions of subject matter jurisdiction at any time. 



                                                                                         

its  discretion  by  holding  an  evidentiary  hearing  or  ruling  on  the  motion  more  than  



30 days after Briana filed her response brief.  



V.        CONCLUSION  



                    We AFFIRM the superior court in all respects.  



          38        Gold Dust Mines, Inc., v. Little Squaw Gold Mining Co.                         , 299 P.3d 148, 158  



(Alaska 2012).  



          39        See Hawkins v. Attatayuk, 322 P.3d 891, 895 (Alaska 2014) ("The issue of  

                                                                                                           

subject matter jurisdiction 'may be raised at any stage of the litigation and if noticed must  

                                                                                                             

be raised by the court if not raised by one of the parties.' " (quoting Hydaburg Co-op.  

Ass'n v. Hydaburg Fisheries , 925 P.2d 246, 248 (Alaska 1996))).  



                                                            -15-                                                          6993  

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