from the Superior Court No. 1 SI-16-00027 CI of the State of
Alaska, First Judicial District, Sitka, David V. George,
A. Nyquist, Anchorage, for Appellants.
W. McGowan, Sitka, for Appellee Chandra Wilson.
appearance by Appellee William Jordan.
Before: Stowers, Chief Justice, Winfree, Maassen, Bolger, and
grandparents asked the court to order visitation with their
grandson. The superior court denied their request because
they did not allege that the child suffered any detriment
from a lack of court-ordered visitation. We affirm.
FACTS & PROCEEDINGS
and Thomas Jordan are the grandparents of a young boy. They
moved to intervene in a custody dispute between the boy's
parents to seek court-ordered visitation with their grandson.
Neither their motion nor its accompanying affidavits
contained any allegation that the child suffered any
detriment from a lack of court-ordered visitation. They
alleged only that the child's mother, Chandra Watson,
restricted them to "short visits" with the child,
failed to facilitate their relationship with the child, and
preferred to hire strangers to babysit instead of asking the
grandparents to watch him. Chandra objected to the
superior court denied the motion, reasoning that the
grandparents had not alleged any detriment to the child
resulting from a lack of court-ordered visitation, as
required by our decision in Ross v.
Bauman. The grandparents filed a second motion
making similar arguments; the court rejected it on the same
grounds. The grandparents appeal.
grandparents argue that statutory law and due process
required the superior court to at least grant them a hearing
on their motion. "We use our independent judgment to
decide whether it was error not to hold an evidentiary
hearing." "A hearing is not necessary if
'there is no genuine issue of material fact before the
court, ' " and we will affirm the superior
court's decision to deny a hearing if "the facts
alleged, even if proved, cannot warrant" granting the
grandparents visitation. "Questions of due process also are
reviewed de novo."
Statute 25.20.065 allows grandparents to seek
"reasonable rights of visitation" with a grandchild
if they have "established or attempted to establish
ongoing personal contact with the child" and if
visitation is in the child's best
interests. But we held in Ross v. Bauman
that due process requires a third element: "[A] third
party seeking court-ordered visitation with a child,
including a grandparent seeking an order under AS 25.20.065,
must prove by clear and convincing evidence that it is
detrimental to the child to ...