ALASKA DIVORCE BASICS AND OVERVIEW
|This is a divorce reference guide to understanding divorce in Alaska. Alaska has its own requirements, laws, and documentation, so we decided to gather it all in one location to make it easy and quick for you to find the information you need before, during and after your divorce.|
- Time Frame: In Alaska, It takes 30 to 60 days to finalize a divorce. Generally, there is a 30-day waiting period after the divorce is filed before a judge will sign the final decree which finalizes the divorce.
- Where to File: Superior court. "Superior court for the State of Alaska; #____________ Judicial District."
- Statute Statutes: Title 25, Chapter 24.
- Name of Action: Dissolution of Marriage, if no-fault grounds; Judgment of Divorce, if fault grounds.
- Name of Parties: Petitioner and Respondent, if no-fault divorce; Plaintiff and Defendant, if fault divorce.
- No-Fault or Fault and No-Fault Only: Alaska offers both no-fault and fault divorce.
- Primary Documents Filed For No-Fault Divorce: Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.
- Physical Separation Required: No.
- Separation Time to File: None.
- Legal Separation Permitted: There is no provision for a legal separation.
- Grounds: No-Fault, which means incompatibility of temperament causing the irremediable breakdown of the marriage and seven traditional fault grounds.
- Residency Requirement: The party filing for the dissolution of marriage must be a resident of Alaska when he or she files.
- Mediation Required: In disputed cases, the judge may order mediation if he or she believes a more satisfactory settlement may be achieved; however, the court considers whether domestic violence might affect the fairness of the mediation or his or her safety.
- Counseling Required: The court may order the spouses to family counseling if it believes there is a chance the marriage can be saved, but with certain exceptions, the court does not refer parties to counseling if a domestic violence protective order is in effect.
- Parenting Classes Required: Alaska requires that divorcing parents take a video or an online parenting class before the court hands down its final decree in divorce, dissolution, or custody cases.
Depending on the type of case (divorce, dissolution, or custody), a parent must complete this parenting class requirement either before filing (sometimes in the case of a dissolution), or before the entry of the final Decree of Divorce in the case (divorce or custody). The mandatory parenting class helps parents and children deal with the trauma of a family breakup. Unless the court grants a waiver, both parents must complete this parenting class requirement before a court order for divorce, dissolution, or custody is granted. A parent can fulfill this parenting class requirement conveniently online at a very reasonable cost. A parent must file a Certificate of Completion after meeting the local court requirements. In dissolution cases, some courts in Alaska require that both parents file their Certificate of Completion at the clerk's office at the same time they file their Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. In those courts, this means that a parent must see the video or complete an online class before actually filing.
- Filing Fee: $200. (See AK Filing Fee Waiver Form)
- Where to File for Child Support: Alaska Child Support Services Division is located at 550 W 7th Ave Suite 310 Anchorage, AK 99501-6699. Child support payments may be ordered paid to a court-appointed trustee or through the state child support enforcement agency.
- Child Support Guidelines Model: The percentage of income formula.
In Alaska, child support is based on a flat percent of income. Alaska utilizes the percentage of income formula, which shows child support as a percentage of the obligor’s (paying spouse's) income. This percentage considers the number of children requiring child support. Alaska Statutes, Title 25, Chapter 27. Section 25.27.010, et seq. applies to child support, but in Alaska courts calculate support based on Civil Rule 90.3. In Alaska, the custody arrangements are used to determine the child support income percentages. There are four basic custody classifications:
When one parent is the primary custodian, the court bases support calculations on the noncustodial parents income. In other cases -- shared, divided, or hybrid custody – the court uses the income of both parents to calculate child support. In calculating support in Alaska, the court considers wages, disability income, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) unemployment, employer benefits (i.e. meals, housing, transportation); and non-taxable benefits (i.e. military allowances for housing, rations, cost-of-living allowance, and specialty pay). However, the court does not consider one-time, lump sum need based payments, such as Alaska Temporary Assistance Program (ATAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or Supplemental Social Security (SSI) as income. In some cases, when unusual circumstances -- such as health or other extraordinary expense, significant income of a child, large family size, or unusually low expenses -- make application of the formula unfair the court deviates from the rules. If the parents can agree on an amount that is different than that produces by the guidelines, a court will consider it as long as it is deemed as reasonable, fair, and in the best interest of the child(ren).
- Primary physical custody, when one parent has custody more than 70 percent of the time.
- Shared physical custody, when the child lives with each parent at least 30 percent of the time.
- Divided custody, when each parent has custody of one child and the parents do not share custody of any child.
- Hybrid Custody, when parents have primary physical custody of some children and shared physical custody of the other children.
- Property Division: Alaska is an equitable distribution state, but all property may be included in the distribution if the court decrees. Alaska is one of eight jurisdictions that include separate property in the marital estate "providing the court finds a special showing of need by the non-titled spouse." Alaska joins equitable division and community property by permitting couples to divide marital property using community property rules. To do this, couples create a community property agreement, or a community property trust. In doing so, they designate all their property as community property, or they can specify in their agreement that certain items, for example earnings prior to the marriage, remain separate property.
- Appreciation of Separate Property: Absent an agreement, separate property includes the earnings or appreciation of separate property and money received in a personal injury claim, except parts going to the community for expenses. Absent an agreement, the appreciation in the value of community property becomes marital property, as do its earnings.
- Attendance at Hearing: Yes. The hearing date must be at least 30 days after the date the Petition for Dissolution of Marriage is filed. Both spouses are expected to attend the divorce hearing; however, there are additional options for requesting approval from the court to allow one of the parties to either testify by telephone or to not appear at the hearing.
- Fault Considered in Property Division: The courts do not consider marital misconduct, but consider a spouse's wasteful dissipation of marital assets, and weight the factors differently depending on the case.
- Waiting period after Divorce for Remarriage: None.
- Ways to Serve Spouse: Personal service, service by mail, or service by publication.
- Divorce Records: The Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics
In Alaska, when a couple dissolves a marriage (divorces) a form called a Certificate of Divorce, Dissolution of Marriage or Annulment, VS-401 is completed and filed with the court which records the divorce case with the Bureau of Vital Statistics. The Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics issues certified copies of vital records, including divorce certificates, that occurred within the state of Alaska. Records of divorce in Alaska are legally confidential for 50 years, so they are only issued to the parties of the divorce (spouses or children) or their legal representatives. When ordering an Alaska divorce record, the requesting party must state his or her relationship to the person named on the certificate or the reason for needing the divorce record. Copies of the actual Decree of Dissolution of Marriage (which details the terms of the divorce) is not available through the Alaska Bureau of Vital Statistics but instead must be obtained from the actual court the divorce was filed in and finalized in.