The minor child at issue was born in Turkey in 2013. In 2017, Mr. Christensen and Ms. Seckin reached an agreement resolving custody of their minor child. At the time, Mr. Christensen lived in Alaska, and Ms. Seckin and their child lived in Turkey. In an August 2017 Turkish order, Ms. Seckin was awarded custody. Later that year, Ms. Seckin returned to Alaska (where she had lived prior to the child’s birth) with their child. She argued it was for a “trial basis” and Mr. Christensen argued it was permanent with an intent to work on their relationship. They registered their Turkish order. About six months later, both parties filed a stipulation in the Alaskan family court saying Ms. Seckin has legal custody.
Her “trial” run in Alaska did not go as planned, and in early 2019, she returned to Turkey with their child. Mr. Christensen purchased Ms. Seckin and their child one-way plane tickets. Mr. Christensen argued that he never agreed that their child would be raised in Turkey. In April 2019, he filed a motion to modify the Turkish custody order in the Alaskan courts. The Master assigned to the case questioned sua sponte whether Alaska had the jurisdiction to modify the Turkish custody order. Mr. Christensen took the view that it did have jurisdiction, saying that the Turkish order was registered and subsequently modified by stipulation in Alaska, and when the court approved the stipulation, Alaska took up continuing, exclusive jurisdiction to further modify that order. Alternatively, he argued that Alaska had become the child’s home state by the time he filed his motion in April 2019. The trial court disagreed, and the Supreme Court affirmed.
The Supreme Court deemed the stipulation, filed by Ms. Seckin and Mr. Christensen in 2018, to not have modified the Turkish custody order, and only to have reiterated the same terms that already existed in the Turkish custody order. Therefore, this was simply a recognition and enforcement of the Turkish order, and not establishment of a subsequent modified order. Further, even if Alaska was the child’s home state in April 2019, Mr. Christensen presented no evidence that Turkey (which had continuing, exclusive jurisdiction over its order under this court’s analysis) ceded its jurisdiction, deemed itself to be an inconvenient forum, or that a court determined that no one continued living in Turkey.