Bell v. Bell

794 P.2d 97 (Alaska 1990)



An award of child custody must be in the best interests of the child and more than an incapability of meaningful communications between the parties is required to award custody to one parent and not to award joint custody. Also, child support must be awarded based on more than cross-examination of a parent, and property subject to division should be divided equally where possible.


Appellant ex-husband challenged the award of custody, child support, and the division of marital property. During the time that the ex-husband and appellee ex-wife were going through their divorce, they cooperated and shared custody of their child by alternating custody each week. A Custody Investigator had recommended shared legal custody, and the facts showed that the couple had cooperated when the child was hospitalized. The trial court had found that the parties' inability to communicate made joint custody not in the best interest of the child. The court rejected this conclusion on appeal. As to child support, the trial court based its finding on the cross examination of the ex-husband, which the court found to be inaccurate and reversed on appeal. As for distribution of property, the ex-husband sought a division in the nature of rescission and the court required remand for the trial court to identify all property subject to distribution, determine the value of the property, determine the most equitable division, with a presumption that equal distribution would be desirable. 


Did the trial court err in its findings?




The custody decision of the trial court was reversed as the controlling underlying factual finding was clearly erroneous, and the award of support and property division were not supported by substantial evidence.

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