Appeal from the Superior Court of the State of Alaska, Third Judicial District, Palmer, Eric Smith, Judge. Superior Court No. 3PA-12-00111 PR.
Kathleen C. Barron, Wasilla, for Appellant.
No appearance by Appellee.
Before: Fabe, Chief Justice, Winfree, Stowers, Maassen, and Bolger, Justices.
Robert appeals the superior court's decision that his consent was not required for his biological daughter's adoption. The superior court accepted the superior court standing master's recommendation that Robert's consent was not required under AS 25.23.050 because he had abandoned his daughter for a
period of over six months, failed to provide for her care and support for over one year, and failed to meaningfully communicate with her for over one year. Because the abandonment finding is well-supported by the record, we affirm.
II. FACTS AND PROCEEDINGS
In August 2004, Shawna was born to Denise and Robert in Siloam Springs, Arkansas. At the time of Shawna's birth, Denise and Robert were living with Denise's mother, Beverly, in Westville, Oklahoma. Denise and Robert separated within a few months of Shawna's birth, but Robert remained in Westville until just before Shawna's first birthday. After their separation, the relationship became contentious and they disputed custody of Shawna.
Robert testified before the Alaska Superior Court Master in May 2013 that in 2005 he filed a custody petition with a court in Oklahoma, was granted temporary custody, and lived with Shawna for a few months. He testified that before the permanent custody hearing was held, he left Oklahoma to attend a funeral in California, leaving Shawna with Denise. Following his return, Shawna resumed living with him. However, he again left for California, this time for more than a month. Robert testified that he was not present at the permanent custody hearing in October 2005, but his attorney appeared on his behalf.
The only record from the Oklahoma proceeding that was presented to the Alaska Superior Court Standing Master reveals that it was not a custody proceeding -- it was a paternity proceeding. Following this proceeding, a Decree of Paternity was issued by a judge of the District Court of Adair County, Oklahoma on October 3, 2005 and filed on October 27, 2005. According to the Decree, Robert had filed a Petition for Determination of Paternity, the court held a hearing on the petition on October 3, and Robert was not present but his attorney appeared for him. The court determined that Robert was Shawna's father and awarded ...