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Johnson v. Johnson

Supreme Court of Alaska
564 P.2d 71 (1978)


Rudy Johnson (plaintiff) filed for divorce from his wife, Linda Johnson (defendant). The Johnsons were practicing Jehovah’s Witnesses and had two minor children. The marriage deteriorated after Rudy became disenchanted with the church and was excommunicated from the congregation. Despite Rudy’s pleas for Linda to leave the congregation, Linda remained a member of the church. At trial, Rudy argued that if he were denied custody of the children, he would have virtually no input in the children’s lives, because Linda and the children were prohibited by the church from associating with him. Rudy claimed that the children’s overall development would be better served if the children instead lived with him. Testifying on Rudy’s behalf, a psychologist and a family counselor agreed and concluded that it was in the best interests of the children to be exposed to real-world issues that were experienced by other children of the same age. Linda offered no evidence to rebut the testimony of Rudy’s witnesses. The trial court awarded physical custody of the children to Linda based on the tender-years presumption and awarded legal custody of the children to both of the Johnsons so that Rudy could consent to medical care on behalf of the children. Rudy appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Burke, J.)

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