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You can search the entire site. or go to the recent opinions, or the chronological or subject indices. Georgette S.B. v. Scott B. (12/7/2018) sp-7319

Georgette S.B. v. Scott B. (12/7/2018) sp-7319

           Notice:   This opinion is subject to correction before publication in the P                  ACIFIC  R`EPORTER.  

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                      THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF ALASKA                                       



GEORGETTE  S.B.,                                                 )  

                                                                 )    Supreme  Court  No.  S-16687  

                                Appellant,                       )  

                                                                                                                                

                                                                 )    Superior Court No. 3AN-14-04278 CI  

           v.                                                    )  

                                                                                          

                                                                 )    O P I N I O N  

               

SCOTT B.,                                                        )  

                                                                                                               

                                                                 )    No. 7319 - December 7, 2018  

                                Appellee.                        )  

                                                                 )  



                                                                                                              

                     A             

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

                                                                                                    

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



                     Appearances: Larissa Hail and Kris O. Jensen, Law Offices  

                                                                                                                       

                     of  Dan  Allan  &  Associates,  Anchorage,  for  Appellant.  

                                                                     

                      Scott B., pro se, Anchorage, Appellee.  



                                                                                                          

                     Before: Stowers, Chief Justice, Winfree, Maassen, Bolger,  

                                           

                     and Carney, Justices.  



                                            

                     MAASSEN, Justice.  



I.         INTRODUCTION  



                                                             

                     A mother appeals from an order modifying custody, which awarded sole  



                                                                                                                                        

legal  and  physical  custody  of  her  three  children  to  the  father  and  limited  her  to  



                                                                                                                                

supervised visitation pending the children's full engagement in therapy.  The mother  



                                                                                                                                  

argues that the father failed to demonstrate a change in circumstances that would justify  


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a modification of custody and that the resulting modification was not in the children's                                                                                                                 



best interests.   



                                   We conclude that the superior court did not abuse its discretion when it                                                                                                                   



determined that the mother's interference with the children's therapy amounted to a                                                                                                                                    



change in circumstances and that the children's best interests were served by an award                                                                                                                            



of sole legal and physical custody to the father while therapy took hold.  We therefore                    



affirm the court's order modifying custody.                                                                         



II.               FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS                  



                 A.                Background  

                                                                                                           1 married in 2002 and divorced in 2015.  They  

                                   Georgette S.B. and Scott B.                                                                                                                                                      



have three children born during the marriage, two boys and a girl.  

                                                                                                                                                                              



                                   The superior court issued a custody order in November 2014.  The court  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    



observed that "[t]he parties have had a highly acrimonious separation," but it found "that  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      



both parents express the desire to meet the children's needs and that both are capable of  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                             



meeting the basic needs of the children."  The court therefore ordered joint physical and  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                         



legal  custody,  with  a  legal  custody  exception  for  the  children's  educational  and  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       



therapeutic needs, on which Scott had the final say. The court ordered Scott to enroll the  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                           



children in therapy and ordered both Georgette and Scott to "try to alternately attend the  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          



children's individual therapy and . . . fully cooperate and participate as requested by the  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          



individual therapists."  

                             



                                   In July 2015 Scott filed a motion to compel Georgette to participate in the  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          



children's therapy and to modify the 2014 order to give him sole custody of the children.  

                                                                                                                                                                                                           



In October he moved to hold Georgette in contempt for failing to allow the children to  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                             



participate in therapy, making disparaging remarks about him to the children, exposing  

                                                                                                                                                                                                          



                  1                We  use  pseudonyms  to  protect  the  children's  privacy.  



                                                                                                              -2-                                                                                                              7319  


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the  children  to  litigation  matters,  and  failing  to  follow  the  court-ordered  custody  

                                                                                                                        



calendar.        The court found Georgette in  contempt following  a hearing.                                       The  court  

                                                                                                                            



discussed the therapy schedule for the next few weeks and specified which parent would  

                                                                                                                           



be taking the children to each appointment.  Looking forward to the scheduled custody  

                                                                                                                         



modification hearing in three months' time, the court stated: "If you don't keep these  

                                                                                                                             



kids in therapy, I will do what's necessary to make sure they're in therapy.  I cannot be  

                                                                                                                                 



any  clearer,  and  I  want  the  court  record  []  to  reflect  that  I  am looking  directly  at  

                                                                                                                                 



Ms. [S.B.] when I am saying this."  

                                              



                    In  January  2016  the  court  held  an  evidentiary  hearing  on  Scott's  

                                                                                                                         



modification motion.  The court did not change the existing joint custody arrangement,  

                                                                                                                 



only  its  day-to-day  execution.                     The  court  noted  its  continued  displeasure  with  

                                                                                                                             



Georgette's failure to support the children's therapy but said it would give the parties one  

                                                                                                                               



more chance to cooperate with therapy and other activities, or it would be forced to  

                                                                                                                                 



award full custody to one parent.  

                                         



          B.        The March 2017 Custody Modification  

                                                                



                     Scott again moved to modify custody in November 2016.  The court held  

                                                                                                                              



a  three-day  trial  the  following  March  and  heard  from  21  witnesses,  including  the  

                                                                                                                               



children's former therapists.   The court then put its findings and conclusions on the  

                                                                                                                                



record.  The court found that all three children had "a special need for psychotherapy"  

                                                                                                             



but  that  Georgette,  by  her  "fail[ure]  to  support  past  therapeutic  involvement,"  had  

                                                                                                                               



"interfered with a smooth therapeuticinterventionfor thechildren." The court found that  

                                                                                                                               



Georgette's "confront[ational] communication style and refus[al] to accept the realities  

                                                                                                                         



of the scope of assistance required [had] interfered with the children's schooling in the  

                                                                                                                                



past and the children's therapy, both past and present."  It found that Georgette's "lack  

                                                                                                                             



of support for therapy was conveyed to the children through either words, actions[,] or  

                                                                                                                                  



                                                                -3-                                                         7319
  


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attitudes in such a manner that the children did not feel that they [had] to cooperate in the  



                                                                                                           

therapeutic process and . . . [that] disrupted the therapeutic process."  



                                                                                                                      

                    The court noted that "Denali Family Services and Counseling Solutions  



                                                                                                                                 

[were]  no  longer  an  option  for  these  children,  .  .  .  in  no  small  part  .  .  .  due  to  



                                                                                                                                 

[Georgette's]  sabotaging  the  therapeutic  relationship."                                   But  the  court  found  it  



                                                                                                                               

"interesting" that the children had been more involved "when [Georgette] chose and  



                                                                                                                   

supported" a therapist at Southcentral Foundation in December 2016, after Counseling  



                                                                                                                        

Solutions had ceased its sessions.  The therapist Georgette selected could not continue  



                                                                                                                              

beyond  four  sessions  because  of  Southcentral's  eligibility  criteria,  and  Scott  was  



                                                                                                                  

attempting to establish "another therapeutic family relationship, including wraparound  



                                                                                                                               

services, with Anchorage Community Mental Health." But the court was concerned that  



                                                                                                                               

Georgette did not "fully support[] these services, and there [was] already indication that  



                                                                

[the older boy was] resistant to therapy."  



                                                                                                                     

                    The court concluded, "[r]egretfully," that the needed therapy would not  



                                                                                                                    

"take hold" unless the children were given time to be "fully engaged in the therapeutic  



                                                                                                                     

process" outside their mother's negative influence.  It found that Scott, unlike Georgette,  



                                                                                                                            

had "always been open to receiving professional assistance."  The court awarded "both  



                                                                                                                

sole legal and sole physical custody of the children" to Scott and, "at least temporarily,"  



                                                                                                                      

limited Georgette to supervised contact with the children. The court stated its "intention  



                                                                                                                                 

.  . .  to  use this period of []supervised  contact between  mother  and the children as  



                                                                                                                                  

something of a respite to allow the children to begin to fully engage in therapy."  It  



                                                                                                                         

required Georgette to "obtain a psychological evaluation" and encouraged her to "follow  



                                                                                            

any reasonable recommendations made in" that evaluation, "which will go a long way  



                                                                                                                    

towards her regaining unsupervised and frequent contact with the children." Elaborating  



                                                                                                                             

onthis requirement inasubsequent written order, the court authorizedGeorgetteto move  



                                                                                                                                  

"for unsupervised visitation upon providing certification from a professional versed in  



                                                                -4-                                                         7319
  


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

high-conflict parenting that [Georgette] has acquired both a clear understanding of, and                                                                                                                                                                        



intent   to   apply,   healthy   and   appropriate   boundaries  with   the   children   in   both   her  



communications and non-verbal cues about their father and their third-party providers."                                                                                                                                                                                        



                                         Georgette   appeals,   arguing   that   the   superior   court   erred   in   finding   a  



substantial change in circumstances and, assuming there was such a change, abused its                                                                                                                                                                               



discretion in deciding that the children's best interests required a modification of custody                                                                                                                                                        



and limits on her visitation.                         



III.	                STANDARDS OF REVIEW                                           



                                         "The trial court has broad discretion in determining child custody issues;   



resolution of those issues will be reversed 'only if, after a review of the entire record, we                                                                                                                                                                      



are convinced that the trial court abused its discretion or that the controlling factual                                                                                                                                                              

                                                                                                                                                                        2  This "broad discretion" applies  

findings made by the trial court are clearly erroneous.' "                                                                                                                                                                                            



to the determination whether there has been "a substantial change in circumstances  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

affecting the child."3                                                When considering a child's best interests in making a custody  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                



award, a trial court abuses its discretion if it "considers improper factors, fails to consider  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

statutorily mandated factors, or gives too much weight to some factors."4  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     



IV.	                 DISCUSSION  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                     A.	                 The  Superior  Court  Did  Not  Abuse  Its  Discretion  By  Finding  A  

                                                                                                                     

                                          Substantial Change In Circumstances.  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

                                         Thesuperior court determinedthat Georgette's continued interferencewith  



                                                                                       

the children's therapy was a changed circumstance that allowed it to consider whether  



                     2                   Barrett v. Alguire                                     , 35 P.3d 1, 5 (Alaska 2001) (quoting                                                                             Jenkins v. Handel                                       ,  



 10 P.3d 586, 589 (Alaska 2000)).                                                



                     3                   Heather W. v. Rudy R., 274 P.3d 478, 482 (Alaska 2012).  

                                                                                                                                                                                                       



                     4                    William P. v. Taunya P., 258 P.3d 812, 814 (Alaska 2011) (quoting Long  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

v. Long, 816 P.2d 145, 150 (Alaska 1991)).  

                                                                                                                



                                                                                                                                  -5-	                                                                                                                      7319
  


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to   modify   custody.     Georgette   argues  that   the   evidence   did   not   support   this  



determination, though she does not appear to challenge the essential findings of fact: that                                                                           



the children had a special need for therapy and that her own attitude toward therapy had                                                                              

                                                                              5   We read her argument as a challenge to the  

interfered with its success in the past.                                                                                                                              



court's determination that the facts, as found by the court, amounted to a substantial  

                                                                                                                                                      

change in circumstances, a determination we review for abuse of discretion.6  

                                                                                                                                                            



                           The  first  custody  order,  from November  2014,  noted  the  existence  of  

                                                                                                                                                                        



serious conflict in the parties' home and their "highly acrimonious separation." It noted  

                                                                                                                                                                  



that the children had been in therapy but no longer were, although their therapist had  

                                                                                                                                                                     



recommended that therapy continue.  The superior court specifically found at that time  

                                                                                                                                                                    



that Georgette's "confrontational and sometimes oppositional attitudes have interfered  

                                                                                                                                                         



in meeting the children's therapeutic needs, whether directly with the professionals  

                                                                                                                                                  



involved or indirectly by involving the children in the divorce issues."  While finding  

                                                                                                                                                              



substantial fault with both parties' parenting, the court found that it was "in the children's  

                                                                                                                                                         



best interests that [Scott] be granted sole legal custody to determine the children's  

                                                                                                                                                        



educational and mental health needs," and it ordered that he "re-enroll the children into  

                                                                                                                                                                     



therapy," that he keep Georgette advised, and that the parties "try to alternately attend  

                                                                                                              



the children's individual therapy and . . . fully cooperate and participate as requested by  

                                                                                                                                                                        



the individual therapists."  

                                                      



                           Over  the  next  two  years  the  superior  court  repeatedly  admonished  

                                                                                                                                                   



Georgette about her reluctance to support the children's therapy, and it warned that  

                                                                                                                                                                     



continued problems could result in an award of full legal custody to one parent.  Scott's  

                                                                                                                                                               



             5             Instead, Georgette emphasizes testimony about other issues - academics                                                       



and child care.                



             6             See Heather W., 274 P.3d at 482.  

                                                                                     



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November 2016 motion for modification of custody and supporting affidavit were based  



                                                                                                                            

on Georgette's allegedly "destructive" and "dysfunctional"behavioracrossawide range  



                                                                                                                                

of family interactions, but much of the evidence at the March 2017 trial focused on the  



                        

therapy issue.  



                                                                                                                                 

                     Scott called three employees of Counseling Solutions of Alaska, where he  



                                                                                                                              

had  enrolled  the  children  in  therapy  from  September  2015  to  August  2016.                                           The  



daughter's therapist testified about her interactions with the parents.  She testified that  



                                                                                                                              

Scott brought the children to therapy, remained during the sessions, informed her of what  



                                                                                                                                 

was going on at home "in terms of the kids' behavior," and left her "probably two or  



                                                                                                                      

three voicemails per week" about the children's activities and progress.  She described  



                                                                                                                    

Scott as "very engaged and involved in the kids' therapy sessions," "open to feedback,"  



                                                                                                                                 

and "communicative with us regarding the issues with the kids and things that would go  



                                                                                   

on"; overall, he was "very pleasant and cooperative."  



                                                                                                                               

                    The therapist described her experience with Georgette differently.   She  



                                                                                                                                

testified that their interactions "initially . . . were very friendly and very cordial," but "as  



                                                                                                                                 

time progressed they became more adversarial."  She testified that she sensed "kind of  



                                                                                                                                      

an underlying suspicion [on Georgette's part] of our intentions regarding her children."  



                                                                                                                              

She testified that Georgette called the clinic maybe once a month; she described the calls  



                                                                                                                           

as "not how can I do better, how can I support my children in therapy," but rather  



                                                                                                                               

"geared toward[] . . . the subjects that had been broached, [and] when this therapy was  



                                                                                                        

going to be completed."  There were conflicts with Georgette over scheduling, "some  



                                                                                                                                  

possible concern [on Georgette's part] regarding racial issues" (not further explained in  



                                                                                                                                

the therapist's testimony), and whether it was appropriate for the therapist to ask the  



                                                                                                                                  

daughter about a particular conflict with her mother.   The therapist testified that it  



                                                                                                                               

became clear that Georgette "did not feel the kids should have been in counseling," and  



                                                                                                                                  

that this attitude affected the daughter's attitude as well:  "[A] lot of the undercurrent of  



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

                                                                                                                                

negativity regarding counseling had started to come up with [the daughter] and I felt like  



                                                                                                                           

actually counseling had become counterproductive  for  her  and actually had started  



                                                                                                                                

creating more anxiety for her to be here and to have somebody asking questions."  The  



                                                              

therapist testified that the daughter still needed counseling, because she was "going to  



                                                                                                                      

struggle to succeed" until "the level of conflict between her parents . . . [was] resolved,"  



                                                                                                                                 

but that Counseling Solutions had to "back away from treating the kids" because the  



                                                                                                                          

"disdain," "negativity," and "anxiety" apparent in Georgette's attitude made therapy  



                                  

"counterproductive."  



                                                                                                                                

                     Theboys' counseloratCounselingSolutions alsotestified. Hetestified that  



                                                                                                 

he  "was  impressed  with  [Scott]  because  he  was  punctual,"  "engaged  in  therapy,"  



                                                                                                                                

"consistent  with  parenting  interventions,"  and  "patient  with  the  children,"  and  "he  



                                                                                                                                

communicated  quite  clearly  about  his  concerns  and  needs."                                    He  testified  that  his  



                                                                                                                                 

interactions  with  Georgette  were  limited;  she  "complied  with  the  formality  of  



                                                                                                                               

counseling" but was reserved and rarely volunteered information about how things were  



                                                                                                                    

going at home.  He had the impression that she did "not want to or need to participate"  



                                                                                                                       

because the counseling was for the children.   He testified that Counseling Solutions  



                                                                                                                              

ended the boys' therapy sessions "probably for two reasons": first, "that we really were  



                                                                                                                                

not able to help the children cope with the interpersonal stress between the parents"; and  



                                                                                                                                

second, because "if there is no parental agreement [that] counseling is reasonable and  



                                                                                                                         

helpful[,] counseling typically does not work all that well[,] and in this case it was a  



                                                                                                              

spectacular failure."  He testified that the boys still needed counseling.  



                                                                                                                                 

                     The third witness from Counseling Solutions was one of its owners.  He  



                                                                                                                                  

testified  that  he  got  involved  in  the  children's  cases  because  there  were  "a  lot  of  



                                                                                                                                  

complaints  and  questions  about  policies  and  what  we're  doing  and  what  kind  of  



                                                                                                                              

treatment  the  kids  are  getting  and  why  it's  even  necessary";  these  questions  were  



                                                                                                                                

"[p]rimarily from mom." He testified that his interactions with Scott "were pleasant and  



                                                                -8-                                                          7319
  


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

                                                                                                                    

respectful and cooperative." But as for Georgette, the owner testified that she questioned  



                                                                                                                                

the motives and tactics of the children's therapists; she insisted she would not pay for  



                                                                                                                                

"family therapy," that is, time the therapists spent talking to Scott about the children; she  



                                                                                                                             

was unhelpful in dealing with insurance and billing issues; and "there was always some  



                                                                                                                     

sort of problem or complaint" over scheduling.   The owner testified that Georgette  



                                                                                                                        

rejected his suggestions that she meet with the therapists, sit in on the children's sessions,  



                                                                                                                                

and get a better understanding of "the therapeutic process."   He testified that in his  



                                                                                                                               

interactions with her she "always seemed really adversarial, really distrustful" and that  



                                                                                                                                      

the children were "picking up on" this and becoming more "shut down and withdrawn."  



                                                                                                                               

He testified that the clinic's collective decision to terminate the children's therapy was  



                                                                                                                           

because "it was felt that it just had become too adversarial, that there was a lack of trust";  



                                                                                                                             

"it was difficult to deal with [Georgette] on a consistent basis . . . and people were  



                  

nervous."  



                                                                                                                            

                    This testimony from the children's counselors, in the context of the case's  



                                                                                                                         

history, supports the superior court's conclusion that therapy was unlikely to succeed  



                                                                                                                                

unless the children were given "a respite" from Georgette's influence to allow them "to  



                                                       

begin to fully engage in therapy."  



                                                                                                                       

                    Georgette  argues  that  the  superior  court  erred  by  finding  changed  



                                                                                                                         

circumstances on this record because her dissatisfaction with the children's therapy  



                                                                                                                                

preexisted the immediately preceding custody order, issued in January 2016, when the  



                                                                                                                   

court declined to modify custody.   It is true that the court characterized Georgette's  



                                                                                                                        

attitude as a significant problem as early as the 2014 custody order, when it awarded  



                                                                                                                         

Scott decision-making authority over the children's "mental health needs" and ordered  



                                                                                                                      

both parties to "fully cooperate and participate [in therapy] as requested by the individual  



                                                                                                                                  

therapists."  As of the March 2017 custody order, the family had lost the opportunity to  



                                                                                                                      

continue therapyat Counseling Solutions dueto Georgette's behavior, and the remaining  



                                                                -9-                                                         7319
  


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

options appeared limited. We cannot fault the court for giving Georgette several chances                                                                                                   



to   correct   her   behavior   before   deciding   that   the   worsening   situation   amounted   to  



"changed circumstances."  We have recognized that while "alleged violations of court   



custody orders do not necessarily constitute grounds for modification, . . . they certainly                                                                                              

                                                                                                                                                     7  the evidence supports  

can if the violations are continuous, repetitious, or egregious";                                                                                                                       



such a finding here.  

                                    



                                Georgette argues that the children's academic performance had improved  

                                                                                                                                                                                      



since the preceding custody order and that Scott had difficulty providing adequate child  

                                                                                                                                                                                                 



care.  But the court made no findings in either of these areas, choosing to focus on the  

                                                                                                                                                                                                      



perennial issue of therapy.  The court could reasonably find a change in circumstances  

                                                                                                                                                                            



in  one  important  area  even  though  other  areas  showed  improvement  or  remained  

                                                                                                                                                                                      

unchanged.8  

                               



                                Georgette also argues that she "was the only parent who could report  

                                                                                                                                                                                              



success  with enrolling the children in productive counseling."   She points out that  

                                                                                                                                                                                                   



following a December 2016 hearing at which the court "expressed its concern that the  

                                                                                                                                                                                                      



children werenot seeing any counselor"(Counseling Solutions having ended its sessions  

                                                                                                                                                                                          



                7               Collier v. Harris                      , 261 P.3d 397, 406 (Alaska 2011);                                                 see Long              , 816 P.2d at            



 151 (rejecting argument that ongoing acrimony between parents could not constitute                                                                                                  

changed circumstances for modification                                                        purposes because"[w]hatis important is that the                                                         

circumstances of the children                                          worsened  as a result of their parents' actions" (emphasis                                                    

in original)).   



                8               See Kelly v. Joseph, 46 P.3d 1014, 1017-18 (Alaska  2002)  (affirming  

                                                                                                                                                                   

finding of changed circumstances based on interference with mother's visitation rights  

                                                                                                                                                                                               

despite father's argument that "children were happy, healthy, well-cared for and doing  

                                                                                                                                                                                               

better in school" with him);  cf. Jenkins v. Handel, 10 P.3d 586, 591 (Alaska 2000)  

                                                                                                                                                                                              

(affirming finding that mother's substantial improvement in some important areas was  

                                                                                                                                                                                                    

insufficient to justify modification when court based its decision on lack of improvement  

                                                                                                                                                                              

in other areas).  

                    



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 severalmonthsbefore),                                                                          sheunilaterally                                                 engaged acounselor                                                                 atSouthcentral Foundation,                                     



where the children presented well.                                                                                                              But that counselor testified that, after four sessions                                                                                                                           



between December 2016 and February 2017, she concluded that the children did not                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      



meet   Southcentral's   criteria   for   continued   therapy   -   they   were   not   "severely  



 emotionally distressed." She did believe, however, that the children would benefit from                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        



 "individual counseling," and that the parents, too, should have "joint counseling to learn                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    



how to co-parent . . . so that it doesn't . . . result in emotional distress for the kids."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The  



 superior court reasonably understood this evidence to show that the children were likely                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   



to benefit from therapy if only Georgette supported it.                                                                                                                                                                          



                                                       We   affirm   the   superior   court's   conclusion   that   Georgette's   continued  



resistance to the children's therapy constituted a change in circumstances that justified                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        



 a modification of custody.                                              



                            B.	                        The Superior Court Did Not Abuse Its Discretion In Weighing The                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

                                                       Best Interests Factors.                                       



                                                       Having found a change in circumstances that justified a modification of                                                                                                                                                                                                                            



 custody, the superior court's next taskwas                                                                                                                                to consider whether modifyingcustody                                                                                                                          would  

                                                                                                                                          9       The modification decision " 'must be guided by the  

be in the children's best interests.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   



best interests factors listed in AS 25.24.150(c),' which include the capability of the  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     



parents to meet the child's needs; 'the love and affection existing between the child and  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     



 each parent'; stability; each parent's ability to foster a relationship between the child and  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              10          "While the 'court  

the other parent . . . ; domestic violence; and substance abuse."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             



                            9                          See  AS 25.20.110(a) ("An award of custody of a child or visitation with the                                                                                                                                                                                                                    



 child may be modified if the court determines that a change in circumstances requires the                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

modification of the award and the modification is in the best interests of the child.").                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  



                            10                         Judd v. Burns, 397 P.3d 331, 339 (Alaska 2017) (quoting Andrea C. v.  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Marcus K., 355 P.3d 521, 528 (Alaska 2015)).  

                                                                                                                                                                 



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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.' "                                                                11  



                                                                                                                                                         

                         In this case the superior court did not address each best interests factor  



                                                                                                                                                       

individually, but it said it had "reviewed" them. It stated that "[w]hile most of the factors  



                                                                                                                                                             

remain neutral, and specifically there was no question that the children have love and  



                                                                                                                                        

affection for both parents, . . . all of the children have a special need for psychotherapy  



                                                                                                                                                             

and . . . mother has disrupted that need and is not capable of supporting that need at this  



                                                                                                                                                             

time." It was this best interests finding that formed the basis for the court's award of sole  



                                                                     

physical and legal custody to Scott.  



                                                                                                                                                      

                         Georgette argues that several factors the court did not specifically address  



                                                                                                                                                 

favored her.  She argues that she was more capable than Scott of meeting the children's  

                                                                                        12  because his late work hours left the  

                                                                                                                                                              

physical, emotional, mental, and social needs 



children "worn-out andexhausted,"hehad troublemakingsuretheydidtheir homework,  

                                                                                                                                               



and the children "were happy to see their Mother." But as explained above, it was within  

                                                                                                                                                        



the superior court's broad discretion to determine that the children's "special need for  

                                                                                                                                                              



psychotherapy" was their predominant need and that Georgette was "not capable of  

                                                                                                                                                                



supporting that need at this time."  

                                                                   



                         Georgette also argues that "[t]here was unchallenged testimony . . . that [the  

                                                                                                                                                             

two boys] preferred being with their Mother."13  But Georgette's unhealthy influence on  

                                                                                                                                                               



             11          Id.  at 339-40 (quoting                    Andrea C.           , 355 P.3d at 528).         



             12          See AS 25. 24.150(c)(1), (2) ("In determining the best interests of the child  

                                                                                                                                                           

the court shall consider (1) the physical, emotional, mental, religious, and social needs  

                                                                                                                                                         

of the child; [and] (2) the capability and desire of each parent to meet these needs.").  

                                                                                                                                                



             13          See AS 25.24.150(c)(3) ("In determining the best interests of the child the  

                                                                                                                                                              

                                                                                                                                          (continued...)  



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

the children's attitudes - and particularly their openness to therapy - was a significant                                                                                                                 



part of the problem the court sought to address; under these circumstances it was not                                                                                                                                         



unreasonable for the court to give little or no weight to the boys' preferences.                                                                                               



                                    The superior court's best interests determination is sufficient for purposes                                                                                               



of our review "if the findings provide 'a clear indication of the factors [that the court]                                                                                                                             



considered important in exercising its discretion or allow us to glean from the record                                                                                                                                

                                                                                                     14   We are satisfied that the superior court did not  

what considerations were involved.' "                                                                                                                                                                                          



abuse its discretion when it weighed the best interests factors and assigned determinative  

                                                                                                                                                                                                   



weight to the children's special need for therapy and Georgette's lack of "the capability  

                                                                                                                                                                                                             



and desire" to meet that need.  

                                                                                   



                  C.	               The  Superior  Court  Did  Not  Abuse  Its  Discretion  By  Limiting  

                                                                                                                                                                                                            

                                    Georgette To Only Supervised Visitation With The Children.  

                                                                                                                                                                                       



                                    Finally, Georgette contends that the superior court erred by limiting her to  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  



supervised visitation pending the children's full engagement in therapy.  She notes our  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              



discussion of the issue in J.F.E. v. J.A.S., in which we observed "that the best interests  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 



of the child standard normally requires unrestricted visitation with the noncustodial  

                                                                                                                                                                                                    



parent"  and  "[t]herefore,  an  order  requiring  that  visitation  be  supervised  must  be  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                               



supported by findings that specify how unsupervised visitation will adversely affect the  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                               



                  13                (...continued)  



                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

court shall consider . . . (3) the child's preference if the child is of sufficient age and  

                                                                                            

capacity to form a preference.").  



                  14                Sweeney v. Organ, 371 P.3d 609, 612 (Alaska 2016) (alteration in original)  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

(quoting Rosenblum v. Perales, 303 P.3d 500, 504 (Alaska 2013)).  

                                                                                                                                                                



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

child's   physical,   emotional,   mental,   religious,   and   social   well-being   and   the   other  

interests set out in AS 25.24.150."                   15  



                     We are satisfied in this case with the superior court's explanation of the  

                                                                                                                                   



need       for     supervised          visitation.           The       court      directly        addressed         Georgette's  

                                                                                                                   



"confront[ational] communication style and [refusal] to accept the realities of the scope  

                                                                                                                               



of  assistance  required"  for  the  children,  rendering  her  incapable  of  supporting  the  

                                                                                                                                  



children's "special need for psychotherapy"; the effect this had had on the children's  

                                                                                                                        



therapy  in  the  past;  Scott's  current  attempt  to  "establish[]  another  therapeutic  .  .  .  

                                                                                                                                       



relationship" with Anchorage Community Mental Health, one of the few remaining  

                                                                                                                       



options; the court's fear that Georgette would "sabotage" this relationship as well; and  

                                                                                                                                  



the court's  reluctant conclusion  that limiting Georgette's negative influence on  the  

                                                                                                                                  



children "at least temporarily, . . . so that the therapy can take hold," was the only  

                                                                                                                                



workable option.  

                             



                     We have emphasized  our preference "that a court ordering supervised  

                                                                                                                      

                                                                                                                             16   The  

visitation also specify a plan by which unsupervised visitation can be achieved."                                                 

                                                                                                             



superior court addressed this issue as well, advising Georgette that she could move to lift  

                                                                                                                                   



the visitation restrictions "upon providing certification from a professional versed in  

                                                                                                                                    



high-conflict parenting that [she] has acquired both a clear understanding of, and intent  

                                                                                                                               



to   apply,   healthy   and   appropriate   boundaries   with   the   children   in   both   her  

                                                                                                                                 



communications and non-verbal cues about their father and their third-party providers."  

                                                                                                                                         



           15        930  P.2d  409,  413-14  (Alaska   1996).  



           16        Monette  v.  Hoff,  958  P.2d  434,  437  (Alaska   1998).  



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

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   17  

We have affirmed such instructions in the past;                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     the superior court did not abuse its                                                                                                                                                                  



discretion by imposing them in this case.                                                                                                                                                                       



V.                                     CONCLUSION  



                                                                              We AFFIRM the superior court's order modifying custody.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                       17                                     See Matthew P. v. Gail S.                                                                                                                         , 354 P.3d 1044, 1050 (Alaska 2015) (finding no                                                                                                                                                                                                                           



abuse of discretion when superior court allowed father to regain unsupervised visitation                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

if he "engage[d] with a therapist and show[ed] [the court] . . . that in fact he . . . is getting                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

or has gotten better").                                                         



                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                -15-                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       7319
  

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