In re Adoption of E.H., 020619 AKSC, S-16989

Docket Nº:S-16989
Party Name:In the Matter of the Adoption of E.H. and J.H.
Attorney:Darryl L. Jones, Law Office of Darryl L. Jones, Palmer, for Appellants Foster Parents. Notice of Nonparticipation by Appellees Grandparents. Notice of Nonparticipation by Appellee State of A1aska, Department of Health & Social Services, Office of Children's Services.
Judge Panel:Before: Bolger, Chief Justice, Winfree, Stowers, Maassen, and Carney, Justices.
Case Date:February 06, 2019
Court:Supreme Court of Alaska
 
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In the Matter of the Adoption of E.H. and J.H.

No. S-16989

Supreme Court of Alaska

February 6, 2019

UNPUBLISHED See Alaska Appellate Rule 214(d)

Appeal from the Superior Court of the State of Alaska, Nos. 3AN-15-01485/01486 PR, Third Judicial District, Anchorage, Eric A. Aarseth, Judge.

Darryl L. Jones, Law Office of Darryl L. Jones, Palmer, for Appellants Foster Parents.

Notice of Nonparticipation by Appellees Grandparents.

Notice of Nonparticipation by Appellee State of A1aska, Department of Health & Social Services, Office of Children's Services.

Before: Bolger, Chief Justice, Winfree, Stowers, Maassen, and Carney, Justices.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND JUDGMENT

[*]

1. This appeal arises from awards of attorney's fees and costs against Simon and Ellie's1 foster, and later adoptive, parents after Simon and Ellie's grandparents' successful motion to vacate the children's adoption.2

2. The superior court awarded the grandparents 50% of their attorney's fees attributable to the motion to vacate the adoption. The court also awarded the grandparents 100% of the cost of their expert witness because "[b]ut for the ability to hire an expert... it is likely the [grandparents] would have been thwarted in their efforts to uncover and explain the actions of the [foster parents] to undermine the relationship with their grandchildren." The court did not cite a rule governing its awards.

3. The grandparents sought attorney's fees under Alaska Civil Rule 82. The foster parents responded that under Rule 82(b)(2), the grandparents were entitled at most to 30% of their actual reasonable fees, 3 which the foster parents argued should be the actual fees reduced by 20% because "the [grandparents] unreasonably increased the complexity of the litigation." Under Rule 82(b)(3) a court may vary an attorney's fees award under subsection (b)(2) if, after considering the listed factors, "the court determines a variation is warranted."4 But when a court chooses to vary an attorney's fees award under subsection (b)(3), both the rule's language and our case law require the court to state on the record its reasons for doing so.[5]...

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