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You can search the entire site. or go to the recent opinions, or the chronological or subject indices. Andrea C. v. Marcus K. (8/7/2015) sp-7027

Andrea C. v. Marcus K. (8/7/2015) sp-7027

         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@akcourts.us.  



                  THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF ALASKA  



ANDREA C.,                                          )  

                                                    )        Supreme Court No. S-14996  

                 Appellant,                         )  

                                                    )        Superior Court No. 3AN-04-08093 CI  

         v.                                         )  

                                                    )        O P I N I O N  

MARCUS K.,                                          )  

                                                    )        No. 7027 - August 7, 2015  

                 Appellee.                          )  

_______________________________ )  



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

                                                                               

                 Judicial District, Anchorage, Patrick J. McKay, Judge.   



                 Appearances:         Andrea       C.,    pro    se,   Wolfeboro,        New  

                 Hampshire,  Appellant.    Marcus  K.,  pro  se,  Anchorage,  

                 Appellee.   



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

                                                       

                 Bolger, Justices.  



                  STOWERS, Justice.  



I.       INTRODUCTION  

                 Andrea  C.1  

                                  appeals  the  superior  court's  decision  to  award  Marcus  K.  



                                                                                       

primary  physical  and  sole  legal  custody  of  their  two  children.    Andrea  argues  the  



superior  court  made  inadequate  findings  regarding  Marcus's  history  of  domestic  



         1       We  have  abbreviated  the  parties'  names  and  use  pseudonyms  for  their  



children to protect the children's privacy.  


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

violence, and she also challenges the superior court's application of the best interest  



                                                                                          

factors.  We affirm the superior court's custody decision for the reasons discussed below.  



II.       FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS  

          A.        Earlier Custody Proceedings2  



                                      

                    Andrea C. and Marcus K. are the divorced parents of two children, Daniel  



                   3  

and Bryson.   Since their divorce, Andrea and Marcus have engaged in a contentious  



                         

custody battle.  Although Marcus originally received only supervised visitation with the  



                                                                                         4  

children  because  he  had  a  history  of  domestic  violence,   Marcus  enjoyed  primary  



                                                    

physical custody and shared legal custody immediately prior to the custody modification  



at issue in this appeal.  



                                                                                                          

                    This significant shift in custody appears to have been the result of two  



factors.  First, Marcus rebutted the domestic violence presumption, making it possible  



                                                                             

for the superior court to award him physical and legal custody.  Second, the superior  



                                                                                              

court had increasing concerns regarding Andrea's parenting.  For example, in 2006 the  



                         

court noted that both parents had "emotionally abused" the children, but that Marcus had  



made "great strides in his ability to deal with [the] confrontation and stress associated  



with  divided  parenting."    The  court  described  Andrea  as  "the  primary  person  that  



                                                                                                        

continually subjects the children to emotional abuse" and believed she was unable to  



          2         We discuss the history of this custody dispute in some detail to provide   



relevant context.  



          3         At the time of the 2012 custody modification from which Andrea appeals,  



Daniel was eleven years old and Bryson was eight years old.  



          4         AS 25.24.150(g).  A parent who has a history of perpetrating domestic  

                                                 

violence is subject to a rebuttable presumption against an award of physical or legal  

                                                                                                          

custody. Id.  A parent has a history of perpetrating domestic violence when "during one  

                                                          

incident of domestic violence, the parent caused serious physical injury or . . . the parent  

                                                                                                                      

has engaged in more than one incident of domestic violence." AS 25.24.150(h).  



                                                               -2-                                                         7027
  


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

recognize  her  shortcomings  as  a  parent.    The  court  later  characterized  Andrea  as  



"controlling" and "manipulative."  



                    In a related 2007 proceeding, the superior court took evidence regarding   



an interaction between Andrea and Daniel, which the court described as "disturbing."  



A custody investigation ordered in a 2010 modification proceeding also raised concerns  



                                                                                                      

regarding  Andrea's  relationship  with  Daniel,  noting,  "[I]t  is  clear  there  is  a  serious  



                                                            

problem between Mother and [Daniel].  [Daniel's] escalating behavior and verbal abuse  



towards Mother is a concern as well as Mother's sometimes inappropriate responses."  



                                                                                                     

                    The superior court attempted to address these issues by ordering Andrea to  



complete  a  parenting  class  in  2006.    And  in  2007,  in  response  to  the  "disturbing"  



                                                                                 

interaction  between  Andrea  and  Daniel,  the  court  ordered  her  to  take  an  anger  



                                                                               

management class.  Andrea failed to complete either requirement for several years and  



                                    

was eventually held in contempt.  It appears Andrea may have completed the anger  



management course and started the parenting class in 2010.  



          B.        The Current Custody Dispute  



                    The  proceedings  leading  up  to  this  appeal  began  when  Andrea  filed  a  



                                                                                                            

custody modification request because of her new husband's impending move to New  



                                                                                                         

Jersey.  Andrea briefly mentioned domestic violence in her motion to modify, stating  



                                                                                                       

"[domestic violence] is being addressed in another motion.  I would, however, like the  



court[] to consider these issues when making its decision."  



                                                                                                

                    The same day she moved to modify custody Andrea also filed a motion for  



an order to show cause.  Among other allegations, Andrea noted that Marcus had a  



                                                                                                              

history of domestic violence and that Marcus's second ex-wife, Angelec, had recently  



                                            

obtained a domestic violence protective order against him, which Andrea attached to her  



                                                            

motion.  Superior Court Judge Patrick J. McKay denied the motion for an order to show  



                                                             -3-                                                        7027
  


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

cause  but  informed  Andrea  that  she  could  raise  these  allegations  at  the  custody  



modification trial.  



                    The superior court also ordered that an earlier custody investigation be  



                                                            

updated.  The updated report stressed that the children continued to be placed in the  



middle of their parents' custody dispute and that the children needed consistency and  



                                                                            

stability above all to meet their needs.  The report found Marcus was more capable and  



                                                                

willing to meet the children's educational needs based on interviews with their teachers  



                                                                                                                      

that indicated that Marcus was the more involved parent. The report also noted that both  



children preferred to stay in Anchorage so that they could "be near their friends and  



complete school with them."  



                                                                                                         5 

                    The custody investigator concluded that the stability factor  favored Marcus 



                                                                                                

because of his "support for the education of the children and for their team sports."  And  



      

on domestic violence, the investigator noted, "[the Office of Children's Services] has  



                                                          

been  involved  with  this  family  on  a  historical  basis  but  .  .  .  nothing  has  been  

                      6   The investigator believed that "[t]he boys need to remain together" and  

substantiated."                                                                  



underscored  that  they  "need  consistency"  and  "need  to  remain  with  their  familiar  

                                                                                                              



teachers and friends."  The report ultimately recommended that Marcus receive sole legal  

                                                                                              



and  primary  physical  custody,  with  Andrea  having  physical  custody  during  seven  



consecutive weeks in the summer and over certain holidays.  



          5         Alaska Statute 25.24.150(c) lists nine best interest factors a court should   



consider in making a custody determination, one of which is "the length of time the child                  

has  lived  in  a  stable,  satisfactory   environment  and  the  desirability  of  maintaining  

continuity." AS 25.24.150(c)(5).  



          6         The report did not discuss the new domestic violence order that Angelec  



had obtained against Marcus.  



                                                               -4-                                                         7027
  


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

                                                                                                               

                    The superior court held a custody trial in November 2012.  Andrea called  



                                               

as a witness Dr. Laura Jones,  a child psychologist who had worked with both children.  



                                                                                                           

While Dr. Jones noted that Andrea had "played an important role" in the children's  



therapy,  Marcus  "ha[d]  been  more  actively  involved."    And  Dr.  Jones  testified  that  



                    

Andrea and Daniel "ha[d] had a more emotionally reactive relationship over the years."  



                         

Dr. Jones noted that "[Daniel] struggles when he does not have consistency and stability  



                                                                         

in his life, and certainly a big family move . . . creates a lack of consistency, a lack of  



stability . . . that has been difficult for [Daniel]."  Dr. Jones explained that "for young  



                                                                                                                 

kids, having physical . . . stability in terms of a very regulated, continual . . . experience  



                                                                                          

of  their  life,  their  surroundings,  the  people  they're  with  leads  .  .  .  to  psychological  



stability."  



                    Andrea  never  introduced  any  evidence  supporting  her  allegations  of  



                

Marcus's history of domestic violence, notwithstanding her brief reference to domestic  



                                                                                                                   

violence in her motion for an order to show cause and the superior court's statement to  



her that she could address her allegation in the custody trial.  



                    The superior court found that Andrea's move out of Alaska constituted a  



                                                                                                               

substantial change in circumstances and then reviewed the statutory best interest factors  



                                   

to  make  its  custody  decision.    The  court  found  that  "[Daniel]  has  some  special  



educational and emotional needs which are currently being met here in Alaska."  The  



                                                                                                                 

court  noted  that  "both  parties  have  the  capability  and  desire  to  meet  most  of  the  



                                                                                                       

children's needs, [but] . . . the parties seem to be unable to control themselves or [are]  



                                                                                                                               

oblivious as to how their continual bickering affects their children's development."  The  



                                                                                                              

court did not give significant weight to the children's preference because of their age and  



because "any preference . . . [was] in all probability not free of suggestion from their  



parents."  



                                                                -5-                                                         7027
  


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

                    The court found that "there is clearly love and affection . . . between both   



children and each parent."  And on the stability factor, the court found that "even prior  



                                                                  

to [Andrea's] move . . . , [Marcus's] home, with the paternal grandparents, ha[s] been a  



                                   

stable and satisfactory environment, probably the most stable environment in their lives;  



Dr. Jones has testified both previously and at this hearing, that stability is extremely  



important for [Daniel]."  The court found that "both parties express a desire to allow an  



                                                                                

open and loving, frequent relationship between their children and the other parent, [but]  



neither parent [does] particularly well at this."  



                    Regarding   the   domestic   violence   presumption,   the   superior   court  



                                                                                                                  

determined that "there [was] no current evidence of any domestic violence . . . in either  



                                                                                                                            

household which would affect this court's decision at this time." (Emphasis added.)  And  



the court found no evidence of substance abuse by either parent.  



                    The  superior  court  awarded  Marcus  sole  legal  and  primary  physical  



custody; it awarded Andrea physical custody for seven consecutive weeks in the summer  



and over certain holidays.  The court noted that "the overwhelming recommendation  



                                                

from the experts . . . is the need for continuity and stability in [Daniel's] and [Bryson's]  



li[ves]."  



                                                                                     

                    Andrea filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that her earlier motion  



                                                                                                                   

to  show  cause  regarding  Marcus's  alleged  domestic  violence  was  "not  taken  into  

consideration."    The  superior  court  denied  her  motion,  and  Andrea  appealed.7                                       We  



                                                                                                      

remanded for clarification on the domestic violence issue and gave the court the option  

to take additional evidence, but did not require it to do so.8  



          7         Andrea  C.  v.  Marcus  K. ,  No.  S-14996  (Alaska  Supreme  Court  Order,  



July 28, 2014).  



          8         Id. at 4.  



                                                               -6-                                                         7027
  


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

          C.        The Superior Court's Supplemental Findings  



                                                                                                                               9  

                                                                                            

                    Judge McKay made additional findings without holding another hearing. 



He noted that Andrea was not a credible witness and that "[n]o other witnesses testified  

                                                                         

as to Marcus'[s] propensity for domestic violence."10  Judge McKay also indicated that  

                                                                                



he had listened to the hearing on Angelec's long-term domestic violence petition, which  



                

had been conducted by another judge, and "[did] not find that the entry of that order  



should in any way be considered as a 'qualifying' long[-]term protective [order] under  

AS 25.24.150(g)."11  



                    Judge McKay specifically took issue with (1) the procedure used in the  



domestic violence proceedings; (2) Marcus being informed by the judge that the order  

                                                                                               



would not affect him unless he violated it; and (3) Marcus being told by the judge to  

                                                                                                                     



focus on staying away from Angelec as opposed to filing an appeal or Civil Rule 60(b)  



            12  

motion.         Judge McKay determined that Andrea's evidence did not support a finding  



that Marcus had a renewed history of domestic violence, and he affirmed his decision to  

                                                    



                                                                          13  

give  no  weight  to  the  domestic  violence  factor.                          We  permitted  the  parties  to  file  

                                                                                                                       



supplemental briefs addressing his findings on remand.  



          9         Marcus   K.   v.   Andrea   C. ,    No.   3AN-04-08093   CI   (Alaska   Super.,  



Aug. 4, 2014).  



          10        Id. at 1.  



          11        Id. at 2.  



          12        Id. at 2 n.1.  



          13        Id. at 2.  



                                                              -7-                                                        7027
  


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

III.       STANDARD OF REVIEW  



                     The superior court has "broad discretion in determining whether a proposed  

                                                                                            14   We will reverse a superior  

                                                                                                               

child-custody modification is in [a] child's best interests."  



court's custody modification only where the record demonstrates an abuse of discretion,  

or when the court's controlling findings of fact were clearly erroneous.15  



                     An abuse of discretion in the custody modification context occurs when  



in reaching its decision the trial court "consider[ed] improper factors, fail[ed] to consider     



statutorily mandated factors, or g[ave] too much weight to some factors while ignoring  

others."16  "In the context of a custody modification decree, this analysis must be applied  



to  assess  whether  the  superior  court  was  justified  in  changing  the  previous  custody  

determination."17  



                     Factual findings are clearly erroneous if we are left with a definite and firm  

                                                                                                       

conviction that the superior court was mistaken.18  



                     "The  applicability  of collateral estoppel to  a  particular  set of facts  is  a  

                                                                                                                            

                                                                            19   But we review the decision to apply  

question of law subject to independent review."  

                                                                                  



           14        Heather W. v. Rudy R. , 274 P.3d 478, 481 (Alaska 2012) (quoting Rego v.  



Rego , 259 P.3d 447, 452 (Alaska 2011)) (internal quotation marks omitted).  



           15        Id . (citing McLane v. Paul, 189 P.3d 1039, 1042 (Alaska 2008)).  



           16        Kessler v. Kessler , 827 P.2d 1119, 1119 (Alaska 1992) (citing S.N.E. v.  



R.L.B., 699 P.2d 875, 878 (Alaska 1985)) (per curiam).  



           17         Gratrix v. Gratrix, 652 P.2d 76, 80 (Alaska 1982).  



           18        Heather W. , 274 P.3d at 481(citing                     Barrett v. Alguire , 35 P.3d 1, 5 (Alaska  



2001)).  



           19        State v. United Cook Inlet Drift Ass'n, 895 P.2d 947, 950 (Alaska 1995)  

                                                                 

(citing Rapoport v. Tesoro Alaska Petrol. Co. , 794 P.2d 949, 951 (Alaska 1990)).  



                                                                   -8-                                                            7027
  


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

                                                                          20  

                                                                                                   

collateral estoppel when its technical requirements                          are otherwise satisfied for abuse of  



                21  

                                                          

discretion.         We will find an abuse of discretion when the superior court has acted in a  

manifestly unreasonable manner.22  



IV.	      DISCUSSION  



                    We interpret Andrea's appeal as presenting two sets of issues.  First, we  



                     

consider  the  superior  court's  treatment  of  Andrea's  domestic  violence  allegations.  



Second, we consider the court's balancing of the remaining best interest factors.  



                            

          A.	       The Superior Court Did Not Err When It Gave No Weight To The  

                    Domestic Violence Allegations Against Marcus.  



                    Andrea argues that there is sufficient evidence in the record to establish that  



Marcus has a history of domestic violence.  And she contends that the superior court  



          20	       These elements are:   



                                       

                    1.  The plea of collateral estoppel must be asserted against a  

                    party or one in privity with a party to the first action;  



                                

                    2.  The issue to be precluded from relitigation by operation of  

                                                                                                 

                    the  doctrine  must  be  identical  to  that  decided  in  the  first  

                    action; [and]  



                                                                                  

                    3.  The issue in the first action must have been resolved by a  

                    final judgment on the merits.  



Sopcak v. Northern Mountain Helicopter Servs., 924 P.2d 1006, 1009 (Alaska 1996)  

(quoting  Campion v. State, Dep't of Cmty. & Reg'l Affairs, 876 P.2d 1096, 1098-99  

(Alaska 1994)).  



          21  

                                                                                               

                    Misyura v. Misyura , 242 P.3d 1037, 1040 (Alaska 2010).  But the superior  

                             

court's  discretion   "must  be  tempered  by  principles  of  fairness  in  light  of  the  

                                                                                                             

circumstances in each particular case." Id. (quoting Borg-Warner Corp. v. Avco Corp.  

                                                                                                          

(Lycoming Div.), 850 P.2d 628, 635 (Alaska 1993)) (internal quotation marks omitted).  



          22  

                                                                  

                    See Collins v. Arctic Builders, 957 P.2d 980, 981 (Alaska 1998) (quoting  

Sheehan v. Univ. of Alaska, 700 P.2d 1295, 1297 (Alaska 1985)).  



                                                              -9-	                                                       7027
  


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

                                                                                   

must make new findings regarding whether Marcus has rebutted the domestic violence  



presumption  at  each  custody  modification,  even  when  there  have  been  no  new  



allegations  since  the  last  modification  order.    She  asserts  that  the  superior  court's  



findings in this most recent modification proceeding were insufficient.  



                                                                                                               

                    We see no error with respect to the superior court's treatment of the prior  



allegations  of  domestic  violence  against  Marcus.    Marcus  successfully  rebutted  the  



                                                                      

domestic violence presumption in 2006, and he has been awarded increasing custody of  



       

the children since then.  We read the court's findings in the present custody modification  



                              

as recognizing that Marcus had a past history of domestic violence, but that there were  



                                          

no current concerns and that the children would be best served by remaining in Marcus's  



custody, particularly in light of its concerns regarding Andrea.  



                    We agree that the superior court's initial findings were problematic with  



respect  to  the  new  domestic  violence  order  Angelec  obtained,  but  the  court's  



supplemental findings have resolved our concerns.  Andrea's inclusion of the protective  



                                                        

order granted to Angelec appears to have been an attempt to establish, through non- 

mutual, offensive collateral estoppel,23 that Marcus had committed domestic violence  



                                

against Angelec.   A new instance of domestic violence might have been sufficient to  



                                                                           

trump Marcus's earlier rebuttal of the presumption against custody.  But we need not -  



                                                                                                        

and do not - decide what effect a new incident of domestic violence would have had  



          23        "Offensive  use   of  collateral  estoppel  occurs  where  a  plaintiff  seeks  to  



preclude a defendant from relitigating an issue that the defendant previously litigated  

unsuccessfully against the same or a different party."   United Cook Inlet Drift Ass'n,  

895 P.2d at 950 n.7.  We have previously held that "the decision to apply collateral  

                          

estoppel  is  within  the  discretion  of  the  trial  court,  although  this  discretion  must  be  

              

tempered by principles of fairness in light of the circumstances in each particular case."  

                                   

Misyura , 242 P.3d at 1040 (quoting Borg-Warner Corp. , 850 P.2d at 635) (internal  

quotation marks omitted).  



                                                            -10-                                                       7027
  


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

because the superior court did not abuse its discretion in choosing not to apply collateral  

                                      



estoppel against Marcus.  



                   "[C]ollateral estoppel bars relitigation, even in an action on a different  



                                                                                                            

claim, of all issues of fact or law that were actually litigated and necessarily decided in  

                              24   The doctrine's application here could arguably prevent Marcus  

[a] prior proceeding."                   



from contesting that he had recently committed a new crime of domestic violence.  But  

                                                                                      

the superior court retains discretion regarding when it will apply the doctrine.25                                  The  



court permissibly exercised that discretion here.  



                   First, the judge hearing Angelec's domestic violence petition found she had  



not proven the underlying domestic violence allegation in her petition.  Thus, there was  



                                       

no apparent reason for that judge to have granted a protective order because Marcus had  



not been found to have done anything that would require changing the status quo.  



                                     

                   Second, the judge hearing Angelec's domestic violence petition based his  



                                           

entry of the protective order on two earlier violations of a civil no-contact order by  



Marcus.  It is not clear from the judge's comments at the domestic violence hearing  



                                                                            

which earlier instances he was referencing.  And while Marcus had been fined previously  



for  violating  the  no-contact  order,  the  judge  hearing  Angelec's  petition  had  not  



previously issued a protective order in response to the violations.  Judge McKay was  



                                                                                         

understandably reluctant to apply collateral estoppel where the judge presiding over the  



domestic violence proceedings had not previously issued a protective order even though  



                                   

Marcus twice violated a civil no-contact order, had found as a matter of fact that Marcus  



did not commit domestic violence against Angelec, but had issued a protective order  



         24        Wall  v.  Stinson,  983  P.2d  736,  740   (Alaska  1999)  (quoting  Campion,  



876 P.2d at 1098) (first alteration added, second alteration in original) (internal quotation  

marks omitted).  



         25        Misyura , 242 P.3d at 1040.  



                                                          -11-                                                    7027
  


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

                                                                                                         

anyway based on Marcus's previous violations of the civil no-contact order (for which  



he had already been fined).  



                    Third, the judge presiding over the domestic violence proceeding twice told  



                                                                                                             

Marcus that the new protective order would have no impact on his life so long as he did  



                       

not violate it.  Notably, the judge failed to explain that the protective order could have  



                                                                         

a  significant  negative  impact  in  future  child  custody  proceedings.    To  someone  



                                                                        

unfamiliar with the law, the judge's "no impact" statement might have dissuaded Marcus  



from appealing the protective order.  Taking Marcus's entire situation into account, the  



judge's explanation was clearly incorrect.  Marcus is a parent engaged in a contentious,  



                                                                           

on-going custody dispute with a prior finding that he has a history of domestic violence;  



                                                                         

an order finding that he had committed additional domestic violence has serious potential  



to affect his custody of the children.  



                    Judge McKay carefully evaluated the record and evidence from Angelec's  



                                                                                                                      

domestic violence protective order proceedings and permissibly concluded that the way  



                                                                                                            

in which that proceeding was conducted justified not giving that order credence.  We  



                                                                 

conclude that Judge McKay did not abuse his discretion when he chose not to permit  



                                                                                             

Andrea to establish that Marcus committed domestic violence against Angelec through  



non-mutual, offensive collateral estoppel.  



                    This holding raises the question whether Andrea should have been given  



                                                                                                          

another opportunity to prove Marcus had committed domestic violence because she was  



                                                             -12-                                                        7027
  


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

                               26  

                                                                                           

representing herself.              Indeed, we have imposed additional obligations on the superior  



                                                                                              27  

court when self-represented litigants allege domestic violence.                                   



                                                                                            

                    But the facts of this case are materially different from our earlier cases, and  



we  conclude  that  the  superior  court's  decision  not  to  hold  another  hearing  was  an  



                                    

appropriate exercise of the court's discretion.  The court earlier had explicitly informed  



                                                                                                   

Andrea that she could present evidence of domestic violence at the custody hearing.  



                                                              

Andrea failed to do so.  And nothing in the record indicates that Andrea had personal  



                                   

knowledge  regarding  Marcus's  alleged  acts  of  domestic  violence  against  Angelec,  



making  any  requirement  that  the  court  question  Andrea  about  those  allegations  an  



                             28  

                                                          

exercise in futility.            On the facts of this case, the court was not required to provide  



                                                    

Andrea  with  a  new  opportunity  to  prove  her  domestic  violence  allegations  against  



Marcus.  



          26        To the extent Andrea argues that our remand order required the superior  



court to hold another hearing, she is incorrect.  Our order gave the superior court the  

option of holding another hearing, but did not require it to do so. Andrea C. v. Marcus  

K. , No. S-14996 (Alaska Supreme Court Order, July 28, 2014).  



          27        See, e.g., Williams v. Barbee, 243 P.3d 995, 1005 (Alaska 2010) (holding  



that the superior court should have inquired into pro se party's allegations of domestic  

                                                                           

violence in her pleadings and should have allowed party to present evidence in support  

                                              

of those allegations); Parks v. Parks , 214 P.3d 295, 300 (Alaska 2009) (holding that the  

                                                                                                 

superior  court  should  have  inquired  further  into  pro  se  party's  domestic  violence  

               

allegations).  



          28        See  Alaska  R.  Evid.  602  (requiring  fact  witnesses  to  testify  based  on  



personal knowledge);  Williams, 234 P.3d at 1005; Parks , 214 P.3d at 300.  



                                                              -13-                                                         7027
  


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

          B.	       The Superior Court Correctly Analyzed The Best Interest Factors.  



                    The superior court's custody modification decision must be guided by the  

                                                   



                                                                        29  

best  interest  factors  listed  in  AS  25.24.150(c).                        While  the  "court  cannot  assign  



disproportionate weight to particular factors while ignoring others, it has considerable  



                                                                                                   

discretion in determining the importance of each statutory factor  in the context of a  

specific case and is not required to weigh the factors equally."30  



                    1.	      The  superior  court  did  not  err  when  it  found  the  children's  

                                                                          

                             needs were being met in Alaska.  



                    The superior court generally found that Daniel had some special needs that  



were being met in Alaska and that both parents wanted to and could meet their children's  

                                                                                                         



needs.  Overall, the superior court weighed these factors in favor of Marcus because both  

                                                                                     



children, especially Daniel, needed continuity and consistency - and their Alaska home  

                                                                                               



provided that.  



                                                                                             

                   Andrea argues that the superior court "neglected . . . to make any findings  



                                                                                              

as to whether the needs of the children could be adequately met by Andrea in any other  



                                                     

state or, more importantly, whether Andrea was more willing and able to meet the needs  



of the children than Marcus."  But a "court's ultimate decision to give determinative  



weight to one of [the best interest] factors and the consequent emphasis it placed on this  



                                                                  

factor do not, standing alone, establish that it ignored the remaining factors or gave them  



                              31  

                                  Here, the court sought to  ensure that Daniel and Bryson had  

inadequate weight."                                                       



          29       AS 25.24.150(a), (c).  



          30        Williams, 243 P.3d at 1005 (quoting Barlow v. Thompson , 221 P.3d 998,   



1005 (Alaska 2009)) (alteration omitted) (internal quotation marks omitted).  



          31       Ebertz v. Ebertz , 113 P.3d 643, 649 (Alaska 2005).  



                                                            -14-	                                                      7027
  


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

stability in their lives, especially because both parents destabilized matters due to their                                   



inability to cooperate over the course of this custody dispute.  



                      The testimony amply supports the superior court's finding that the children,  



                                                               

especially Daniel, needed emotional stability - a need that was best met in Alaska in  



Marcus's continued custody.  Andrea was the parent with whom Daniel had the more  



                                                                                                                                     

difficult relationship.  And the children's psychologist was concerned about how a cross- 



                                                                         

country move would impact Daniel, noting that physical stability leads to psychological  



                     

stability for young children.  Thus, while the court recognized Andrea might personally  



                                                                                                                

have the capability and desire to meet Daniel and Bryson's needs, the court did not err  



in finding it was not in the children's best interest to relocate with her.  



                                                                                                                           

                      2.	        The superior court did not assign disproportionate weight to the  

                                 stability factor.  



                                                                                                  32  

                      Relying  on  Moeller-Prokosch  v.  Prokosch ,                                    Andrea  argues  that  the  



superior court weighed the stability factor too heavily and "gave too little consideration  

                                                                       



to the community, (and more importantly, the extended family), of the minor child[ren]  

                                                                                                                



in  the  New  Jersey  area."    Andrea  also  argues  that  the  superior  court's  decision  



"shatter[ed]  the  bonds"  between  Daniel  and  Bryson  and  their  half-brother,  Charles.  



                                                    

                      "The  continuity  factor  has  two  components:  maintaining  geographic  



                                                                              33  

                                                                                   Andrea is correct that "[a] continuity  

continuity and maximizing relational stability."                                                     



test centered entirely on the child's geographical stability would always favor placing the  

                                                                                                                               



                                                           34  

child with the non-moving parent."                              Indeed, the superior court "may properly award  



primary custody to the relocating  parent when that parent offers superior emotional  

                                                           



           32         99 P.3d 531, 535 (Alaska 2004).  



           33         Blanton v. Yourkowski, 180 P.3d 948, 953 (Alaska 2008).  



           34         Meier v. Cloud , 34 P.3d 1274, 1279 (Alaska 2001).  



                                                                     -15-	                                                             7027
  


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

              35  

stability."          The   real   question   on   appeal   is   whether   the   court   engaged   in   a  

                                                                                                                      



"comprehensive  inquiry  into  each  parent's  respective  ability  to  maintain  stable  and  

satisfactory relations between themselves and the child."36  



                   The record supports the superior court's finding in favor of Marcus.  The  

                                                                                                                        



custody investigator's report stressed that Bryson and Daniel continued to be placed "in  

                                                       

the middle" of their parents' custody dispute and needed consistency and stability.37  The  

                                                                 



investigator noted that Marcus provided a more stable environment and stated that "[t]he  

                                                                              



boys need to remain together" and "need to remain with their familiar teachers  and  

                                                                                                           



friends."  Andrea, on the other hand, had a tumultuous relationship with Daniel, was  



                                                                                       

repeatedly ordered by the court to undertake parenting and anger management classes,  



                                                    

failed  over  a  protracted  period  to  take  these  classes,  and  failed  to  acknowledge  her  



shortcomings as a parent.  



                   The facts support the superior court's conclusion that Andrea's home would  



not provide as emotionally stable an environment for the children as Marcus's home.  



Dr. Jones's comments regarding the importance of stability for young children further  



emphasizes the necessity of stability for Daniel and Bryson.  



                   Regarding Andrea's assertion that the superior court's decision "shatter[ed]  



                 

the bonds" between the boys and their half-brother, we have said that where "[a] review  



of the record reveals little evidence that sibling bonds were of overwhelming importance  



to [a sibling] or to his well-being . . . weighing sibling bonds less than other factors [is]  



          35       Id.  



          36       Id. (quoting McQuade v. McQuade , 901 P.2d 421, 426 (Alaska 1995))  



(internal quotation marks omitted).  



          37       While the court gave it no weight, we note that the children also indicated  



that they wanted to be in Anchorage to "be near their friends and complete school with  

                                                                       

them."  



                                                            -16-                                                      7027
  


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

                                     38 

                   

not an abuse of discretion."             Here, Daniel and Bryson shared a custodial household with  



                                                                                                 

their half-brother for only the first 10 months of their half-brother's life.  The court's  



decision not to give particular weight to the half-sibling relationship in its determination  

of the best interest factors was not an abuse of discretion.39  



                                                                                            

                   Thus, we conclude that the superior court did not err in its consideration of  



the stability factor.  



V.       CONCLUSION  



                   For the reasons stated above, we AFFIRM the decision of the superior  



court.  



         38       Stephanie W. v. Maxwell V., 274 P.3d 1185, 1192 (Alaska 2012).  



         39       See, e.g., Craig v. McBride, 639 P.2d 303, 306 (Alaska 1982).  In Craig,  



the half-siblings were separated for substantial lengths of time, and the superior court  

determined   that   the   sibling   relationship   was   not   critical   for   the   child's   social  

development. Id.  at 306 n.11.  There, this court stated:  "Though maintaining sibling  

                                                                                              

relationships will typically be in the best interests of the child, cases will undoubtedly  

                                                           

arise where the best interests of the child dictate otherwise." Id . at 306.  This is such a  

case.  



                                                         -17-                                                    7027
  

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