Yelena R. v. George R.Annotate this Case
Yelena R. and George R. were involved in an on-again, off-again relationship for more than a decade and had two children together. Yelena accused George of sexually assaulting her in 2011 while they were living together. After the Kodiak magistrate found Yelena’s testimony unpersuasive and denied her request for a long-term domestic violence protective order, Yelena took the children to Massachusetts without notifying George. A Massachusetts court ordered the children to be returned to Kodiak and this custody case followed. After a custody trial, the superior court granted sole legal and primary physical custody of the children to George and ordered supervised visitation between Yelena and the children. Yelena appealed that order and visitation restrictions. The issue this case presented to the Supreme Court was whether the superior court had jurisdiction to make final custody decisions regarding the children. The Supreme Court concluded the superior court had jurisdiction, properly declined to apply Alaska's domestic violence presumption, adequately considered Alaska's “best interest” factors, and made no clearly erroneous factual findings. Thus, the trial court did not abuse its discretion by awarding custody of the children to George. It was error, however, for the superior court to require supervised visitation without making adequate findings to support the visitation restrictions and by failing to establish a plan for Yelena to achieve unsupervised visitation. It was also an abuse of discretion to delegate to George the authority to end the supervision requirement. The Court affirmed the superior court’s award of custody to George, but remanded the case for further proceedings on the issue of Yelena’s visitation.