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Alaska Divorce Laws
Residency and Filing Requirements:In order to file for a dissolution of marriage in Alaska, residency requirements must be met for the court to accept the case. If the court discovers it does not have jurisdictional rights to hear the case it will not be accepted or it will eventually be dismissed. The requirements are as follows:
The spouse who is filing for the dissolution of marriage must be a resident of the state of Alaska at the time of filing.
A person serving in a military branch of the United States government who has been continuously stationed at a military base or installation in the state for at least 30 days is considered a resident of the state. (Alaska Dissolution Statutes- Sections: 22.10.030, 25-24-080, 25.24.090)
Grounds for Filing:The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage must declare the appropriate Alaska grounds upon which the dissolution of marriage is being sought. The appropriate lawful ground will be that which the parties agree upon and can substantiate, or that which the filing spouse desires to prove to the court. The dissolution of marriage grounds are as follows:
A dissolution of marriage may be granted for any of the following grounds:
incompatibility of temperament which has caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage.
(1) failure to consummate the marriage at the time of the marriage and continuing at the commencement of the action; (2) adultery; (3) conviction of a felony; (4) wilful desertion for a period of one year; (5) cruel and inhuman treatment, personal indignities rendering life burdensome; (6) habitual gross drunkenness contracted since marriage and continuing for one year prior to the commencement of the action; (7) incurable mental illness when the spouse has been confined to an institution for a period of at least 18 months immediately preceding the commencement of the action; the status as to the support and maintenance of the mentally ill person is not altered in any way by the granting of the dissolution of marriage; (8) addiction of either party, subsequent to the marriage, to the habitual use of opium, morphine, cocaine, or a similar drug. (Alaska Dissolution Statutes- Sections: 25.24.200, 25-24-050
Filing Spouse Title:Petitioner or Plaintiff. The Petitioner or Plaintiff is the spouse who initiates the filing procedure with the family law or domestic relations court.
Non-Filing Spouse Title:Respondent or Defendant. The Respondent or Defendant is the spouse who does not file the initial dissolution of marriage papers, but rather receives them by service.
Court Name:Superior Court for the State of Alaska; #__________ Judicial District. This is the Alaska court where the dissolution of marriage will be filed. The court will assign a case number and have jurisdictional rights to facilitate and grant the orders concerning, but not limited to: property and debt division, support, custody, and visitation. The name of the court is clearly represented at the top of all documents that are filed.
Primary Documents:Petition for Dissolution of Marriage and Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. These are the essential documents needed to start and finalize a dissolution of marriage according to Alaska law. There are anywhere from ten to twenty other documents that may be required throughout the filing process. A few other documents that are typically filed during the process are: Shared Child Support Worksheet and Appearance and Waiver of Notice of Hearing.
Court Clerk's Title:County Clerk's Office of the Superior Court. The clerk or the clerk's assistants will be the people managing your paperwork with the court. The clerk's office will keep the parties and the lawyers informed throughout the process in regards to additional paperwork that is needed, further requirements, and hearing dates and times.
Property Distribution:Since Alaska is an "equitable distribution" state, the marital property shall be divided in an equitable fashion. Equitable does not mean equal, but rather what is fair. The court will encourage the parties to reach a settlement on property and debt issues otherwise the court will declare the property award.
If the parties cannot agree otherwise, the court will divide the marital property of the spouses, including retirement benefits, whether joint or separate, acquired only during marriage, in a just manner and without regard to which of the parties is in fault; however, the division of property must fairly allocate the economic effect of dissolution of marriage by being based on consideration of the following factors: (A) the length of the marriage and station in life of the parties during the marriage; (B) the age and health of the parties; (C) the earning capacity of the parties, including their educational backgrounds, training, employment skills, work experiences, length of absence from the job market, and custodial responsibilities for children during the marriage; (D) the financial condition of the parties, including the availability and cost of health insurance; (E) the conduct of the parties, including whether there has been unreasonable depletion of marital assets; (F) the desirability of awarding the family home, or the right to live in it for a reasonable period of time, to the party who has primary physical custody of children; (G) the circumstances and necessities of each party; (H) the time and manner of acquisition of the property in question; and (I) the income-producing capacity of the property and the value of the property at the time of division. (Alaska Dissolution Statutes- Sections: 25-24-160, 25.24.230)
Restoration or Name Change:Either spouse may change his or her name to a prior name when filing for a dissolution of marriage. If a party seeks a change of name to a name other than a prior name, the court shall set a date for hearing not less than 40 days after filing of the action. Notice of the application for a change of name to a name other than a prior name and the date of the hearing shall be published once each week for four consecutive calendar weeks before the hearing in a newspaper of general circulation in the judicial district.
Spousal Support:Not all cases involve support from one spouse to the other. The obligation of one spouse to support the other financially for a temporary or permanent basis is decided on a case-by-case basis as agreed to by the parties or at the court's discretion.
If the parties are not in agreement, the court may order maintenance for a limited or indefinite period of time, in gross or in installments, as may be just and necessary without regard to which of the parties is in fault; an award of maintenance must fairly allocate the economic effect of dissolution of marriage by being based on a consideration of the following factors: (A) the length of the marriage and station in life of the parties during the marriage; (B) the age and health of the parties; (C) the earning capacity of the parties, including their educational backgrounds, training, employment skills, work experiences, length of absence from the job market, and custodial responsibilities for children during the marriage; (D) the financial condition of the parties, including the availability and cost of health insurance; (E) the conduct of the parties, including whether there has been unreasonable depletion of marital assets; (F) the division of property under (4) of this subsection; and (G) other factors the court determines to be relevant in each individual case. (Alaska Dissolution Statutes- Sections: 25-24-165, 25.24.230)
Counseling or Mediation Requirements:Either spouse may request to the court that the couple make an attempt through mediation to reach a settlement. Even if no request is made, the court still has the right to order mediation and the court will appoint the mediator. (Alaska Dissolution Statutes- Sections: 25.24.060)
Child Custody:When minor children are involved in a dissolution of marriage, the Alaska courts will do everything possible to help lessen the emotional trauma the children may be experiencing. If the parents cannot come to an agreement regarding the issues involving the children, the court will establish the custody order at its discretion.
The court shall determine custody in accordance with the best interests of the child. In determining the best interests of the child the court shall consider the following: (1) the physical, emotional, mental, religious, and social needs of the child; (2) the capability and desire of each parent to meet these needs; (3) the child's preference if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to form a preference; (4) the love and affection existing between the child and each parent; (5) the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity; (6) the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child, except that the court may not consider this willingness and ability if one parent shows that the other parent has sexually assaulted or engaged in domestic violence against the parent or a child, and that a continuing relationship with the other parent will endanger the health or safety of either the parent or the child; (7) any evidence of domestic violence, child abuse, or child neglect in the proposed custodial household or a history of violence between the parents; (8) evidence that substance abuse by either parent or other members of the household directly affects the emotional or physical well-being of the child; (9) other factors that the court considers pertinent. (Alaska Dissolution Statutes- Sections: 25-24-150, 25.24.090)
Child Support:Alaska child support guidelines uses the Percentage of Income Formula which calculates the support obligation as a percentage of the income of the non-custodial parent who is obligated to support the child. This method simply applies a percentage to the income of the parent according to the number of children requiring support.
Either parent may be ordered to pay child support. The payments are typically made through the Child Support Enforcement Agency. If the parties are not in agreement to the amount of child support to be paid, the court with apply the State Support Guidelines. These guidelines will are presumed to be correct, unless the court believes the amount to be unjust due to unusual circumstances. the court will deviate from the support amount produced by the guidelines by considering the following factors: the size of the family; income of the child; health of the child; expenses; income level; special needs of the child; standard of living the child is accustomed to; and the parent's ability to pay. (Alaska Dissolution Statutes- Sections: 25-24-160, 25.27.110)
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The grounds for divorce in Alaska can either be no-fault, which is due to an irremediable breakdown of the marriage, or fault, which can be due to a number of things such as adultery, cruel and inhuman treatment, or drug addiction, among other things.
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