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In the Matter of J.J.J., A Minor

718 P.2d 948 (1986)

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In the Matter of J.J.J., A Minor

Alaska Supreme Court

718 P.2d 948 (1986)

Facts

J.J.J.’s biological parents were divorced in May 1982, and B.J., the biological mother, was granted custody. J.B. (plaintiff), the biological father, was ordered to pay child support. J.B. made no support payments until August 1982, when he made a single, voluntary payment after being contacted by the Child Support Enforcement Agency (CSEA). From September 1982 through March 1983, J.B. made no payments. In April and May 1983, CSEA garnished J.B.’s wages toward support arrears. J.B. paid nothing between May and October 1983. In August 1983, B.J. and S.J. (defendant), the stepfather, advised J.B. that S.J. planned to adopt J.J.J. In November 1983, J.B. made a lump-sum payment toward support arrears after being contacted by CSEA. Between May 1982 and December 1983, J.B. had practically no contact with J.J.J., but S.J. developed a close, parental relationship with J.J.J. In December 1983, S.J. filed a petition to adopt J.J.J., and J.B. refused to consent. The probate master found that J.B.’s consent was not required because he had substantially and unjustifiably failed to support J.J.J. for a period of at least one year. The probate master also found that the adoption was not in J.J.J.’s best interest because he wanted a relationship with J.B. The superior court affirmed the finding as to J.B.’s consent but reversed the finding on the child’s best interests and directed that the adoption should proceed but that J.B. should receive visitation rights. This expedited appeal followed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Moore, J.)

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