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G. Bock v. L. Bock (2/7/92), 824 P 2d 723
NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal correction
before publication in the Pacific Reporter. Readers are
requested to bring typographical or other formal errors to
the attention of the Clerk of the Appellate Courts, 303 K
Street, Anchorage, Alaska 99501, in order that corrections
may be made prior to permanent publication.
THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF ALASKA
GEORGE W. BOCK, JR., )
Petitioner, ) File No. S-4121
v. ) 3AN 90 4173 CI
LAURA V. BOCK, a/k/a MARILYN ) O P I N I O N
LAURA BOCK, )
________________________________) [No. 3810 - February 7, 1992]
Petition for Review from the Superior Court
of the State of Alaska, Third Judicial Dis
trict, Anchorage, John E. Reese, Joan M.
Katz, and J. Justin Ripley, Judges.
Appearances: Vincent Vitale, Anchorage, and
Max F. Gruenberg, Jr., Gruenberg & Clover,
Anchorage, for Petitioner. Benjamin O. Wal
ters, Jr., Anchorage, for Respondent.
Before: Rabinowitz, Chief Justice, Burke,
Matthews, Compton and Moore, Justices.
Contrary to the procedures and policy goals of the
Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act1 and the federal Parental
Kidnapping Prevention Act,2 this interstate child custody case
has given rise to competing assertions of jurisdiction by courts
in Alaska and Kentucky, and conflicting court orders.
The question that has received the most attention in
Alaska is whether, as a matter of fact, the Kentucky court
deferred jurisdiction to Alaska. In view of the policy against
simultaneous proceedings in separate states, and the importance
of avoiding conflicting custody orders, we conclude that it was
improper for the superior court in Alaska to continue exercising
jurisdiction in the case, once it became clear that the court in
Kentucky was unwilling to yield its jurisdiction. Much time was
spent by the superior court in Alaska trying to determine whether
the Kentucky court's claim of continuing jurisdiction was
credible, in view of statements allegedly once made by Kentucky's
Judge Graves to Judge Reese of Alaska. This effort was as
wasteful as it was unseemly, as the superior court was required
to accept at face value Judge Graves' statement that he never
intended to defer jurisdiction to Alaska, in the absence of a
formal or record act of deferral on the part of Judge Graves.
A related question is whether Kentucky retains jurisdic
tion to determine questions of custody, because of the father's
continued residence in that state from August, 1985, when the
Kentucky decree was entered, to May, 1990, when the mother moved
in superior court, in Alaska, for an order modifying the
visitation requirements of the Kentucky decree.3 Resolution of
this issue necessarily involves a determination of Kentucky law.
The question has been resolved at this stage by the Court of
Appeals of Kentucky which held that the Circuit Court did not err
in concluding that the father had maintained his official
residence in Kentucky. Bock v. Bock, No. 90-CA-2243-MR (Ky. App.
November 22, 1991) at 8. Since the mother had specially appeared
to contest jurisdiction in Kentucky this determination is binding
on Alaska courts unless it is reversed by the Supreme Court of
Kentucky. Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws 96 (1971).
At the time of the filing of the petition in Alaska, in
May of 1990, Alaska had been the home state of the mother and the
children for the last four years.4 At that point, the children
were approximately six and one-half years old. In the converse
situation, where Alaska is the state where the original decree is
entered and the custodial parent and children move to another
home state, Alaska's courts do not retain modification
jurisdiction. Baumgartner v. Baumgartner, 788 P.2d 38 (Alaska
1990). Despite the fact that the information available in Alaska
concerning the children's care was obviously much more
substantial than that present in Kentucky when Alaska's
jurisdiction was invoked, Alaska is precluded from exercising
jurisdiction by 28 U.S.C. 1738A(f), so long as Kentucky claims
"significant connection"jurisdiction under the Kentucky analogue
to 3(a)(2) of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, 9
U.L.A. 122 (1979).
For these reasons, we remand this matter to the
superior court with instructions. The court's previous orders,
by Judges Reese, Katz, and Ripley, must be vacated. All further
proceedings in the case should be stayed, pending final resolu
tion of the jurisdictional question in the courts of Kentucky.
REVERSED and REMANDED WITH INSTRUCTIONS.
. Codified in Alaska as AS 25.30.010-.910.
2. 28 U.S.C. 1738A (1988).
3. See Kimmons v. Heldt, 667 P.2d 1245, 1248-50 (Alaska
4. Jurisdiction is to be evaluated as of that date.
Wanamaker v. Scott, 788 P.2d 712, 714, n.3 (Alaska 1990).