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Kristen L. v. Benjamin W.

Supreme Court of Alaska
2014 WL 2716842 (Alaska June 11, 2014)


Facts

Kristen L. (defendant) and Benjamin W. (plaintiff) were married with two children. Kristen and Benjamin obtained a divorce and were awarded joint legal custody of the children. Kristen was awarded primary physical custody. The younger child was born male, but identified as female and dressed in girl’s clothing, put on makeup, and played with dolls. Benjamin was more supportive and accepting of the child’s behavior than Kristen. During one of his visits with the children, Benjamin found bruises on the younger child. The children told Benjamin that the bruises were the result of Kristen’s violent behavior. Benjamin filed a motion to modify the trial court’s custody order. The children’s counselor testified that the children had told her that Kristen frequently physically abused them. The trial court found the counselor and Benjamin to be more credible than Kristen and her witnesses. The trial court granted Benjamin’s modification petition and awarded him sole legal and primary physical custody of the children. The trial court found that Kristen’s domestic abuse and inability to accept her child’s transgender tendencies constituted a significant change in circumstances that had occurred since the divorce decree. Kristen appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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