Judd v. BurnsAnnotate this Case
Divorced parents shared custody of their son equally pursuant to a parenting agreement. The mother asked the superior court to modify the agreement to allow her to move with the child to Hawaii. The trial court modified custody, granting primary physical custody to the mother; it also modified legal custody to allow the mother final decision-making authority, subject to later court ratification, though neither party had asked that legal custody be modified. The father appealed. After review, the Alaska Supreme Court concluded the trial court did not clearly err or abuse its discretion when it granted modification and awarded primary physical custody to the mother, and affirmed that part of the court’s decision. But the Supreme Court held it was an abuse of discretion to modify legal custody when neither party had requested it, the parties were not on notice that it was at issue, and the evidence did not demonstrate a need for it. The Court therefore vacated the modification of legal custody.