Daves v. McKinleyAnnotate this Case
The superior court awarded custody of a child to her maternal grandmother. When the father later moved for a modification of custody, the court denied the motion on the ground that there had been no substantial change in circumstances. On appeal the father argued he should not have been required to show a substantial change in circumstances because the award of custody to the grandmother had been only temporary and he remained entitled to the parental preference. The Alaska Supreme Court concluded the superior court’s oral remarks and written order granting custody to the grandmother, when read together, indicated an intent that there would also be a transitional period during which the parties would see how the child adapted to spending more time with her father, leaving open the possibility that the transition would result in permanent custody with the father. Therefore, the Court concluded that in the absence of a grant of permanent custody to the grandmother, the father remained entitled to the parental preference, and the grandmother continued to have the burden of proving that the preference should be overcome.