Dissolving your Alaska marriage can be an amicable termination of your relationship, or it may be contentious. In either event, your divorce will include the resolution of fundamental issues applicable to your situation. You will need to decide how your marital property, assets and debts will be divided, if spousal maintenance will be paid and, if there are minor children, how custody, visitation and support payments will be decided.
Do You Need an Attorney?
In simple divorces where the marriage duration was short and there is little marital property and no minor children, you can probably do the divorce yourself with minimal or no legal assistance. In situations where you and your spouse are unable to agree on some fundamental issues or how to divide certain property, a divorce attorney from Alaska can help.
Getting a Divorce
Couples get divorced for various reasons including adultery, a change in life plans, child-raising issues and domestic abuse, among others. To obtain a divorce in Alaska, you must first establish a physical presence or residency within the state for six months before you can file a petition. The type of petition or complaint and the forms pertaining to it will depend on whether the marriage has minor children and if the divorce is contested.
Alaska is a no-fault state, meaning that your grounds or reason for the divorce may merely be stated as an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage relationship, though proof of it is not required. It also allows you to allege “fault” in which you must state a particular reasons such as adultery, a felony conviction, physical incapacitation or drug abuse. Stating one of these grounds or reasons is typically done to affect the outcome of child custody and spousal support issues.
Once the petition is filed, you and your spouse will also have to complete a financial affidavit from which the terms and conditions of your divorce are based. Both of you will have to make full disclosure of your respective incomes, expenses, assets and liabilities, including retirement plans and life insurance policies.
After the mandatory 30-day waiting period from the date of filing the petition or complaint has passed, your divorce may proceed further. The waiting period is often perceived as a cooling-off period to give you time to reconsider your decision to divorce.
Before your divorce or custody case is finalized, Alaska mandates that you participate in parenting education classes if there are minor children born of the marriage, though no parenting plan is required. You may fulfill this requirement by viewing a 48-minute video, completing an online Internet class or attending a class in person. It depends on the individual court on how you may fulfill this requirement.
Mediation is not a prerequisite to getting an Alaska divorce, but the court may order you and your spouse to meet with a court-appointed or a private one, provided you pay for it, in cases where child issues are in dispute or serious property matters.
One of the most contentious and heavily litigated issues in any divorce concerns child custody. This is a separate proceeding from the divorce, with mediators, psychologists and other family specialists often becoming involved.
A court usually makes a temporary determination before a final order is issued whereby physical custody is awarded to one parent, and visitation and support orders are based upon the best interests and safety of the children.
In making its determination, an Alaskan court will consider you and your spouse’s mental and criminal history, your willingness to cooperate with each other, the age and gender of the children and geographical proximity to each other. After considering these factors, the court may order joint or some other type of custody arrangement.
Contact a Divorce Attorney
State laws and various court rules determine how divorce and its many issues are handled. Speak with an Alaska divorce lawyer to see how these laws affect your case and to ensure that your rights and best interests are adequately represented.