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Alaska Divorce Process
Preparing the Divorce Papers
Alaska offers paperwork for a number of common divorce routines:
People who file their papers in Fairbanks and who are in marriages where at least one spouse is in the military should use SHC-PAC9A. If the petitioner decide to pursue a dissolution, he or she should make certain to sign every page of Dissolution Packet #1 (DR-1).
Filing the Paperwork with the Court
The petitioner makes at least two copies of each form. One set goes to the Court Clerk's Office, and one is kept for his or her records.
Unless he or she is indigent, the petitioner pays a filing fee. If the petitioner is indigent, he or she files a Form TF-920 and the court waives the fee.
The court clerk gives the petitioner two copies of the summons and standing order, and he or she then assembles a packet for the respondent that includes the divorce paperwork plus the summons and standing order.
If necessary, a party can file by mail. In this routine, the petitioner makes two copies to keep for himself or herself, and makes sure everything is signed and notarized as required, then mails in all paperwork including the filing fee (or Form TF-920) to the court clerk. The paperwork includes a self-addressed, stamped envelope with adequate postage. The court clerk uses the envelope to return two copies of the summons and standing order.
Additional forms will be required as the divorce proceeding works its way through the system, so the petitioner needs to stay in touch with the County Clerk to ensure no deadlines are missed.
Serving the Documents
When ready, the petitioner serves the divorce papers on the respondent. Service of process, as it called, ensures that no one is ever ambushed in a courtroom.
If the other spouse is an adult who is pro se (meaning he or she has no lawyer), then the petitioner serves him or her directly. When the other spouse has a lawyer, the petitioner serves the lawyer.
When serving the Summons and Complaints included in some of the divorce packets, special service rules apply. The Summons and Complaint must be served either by using certified mail, return receipt requested or a process server. The petitioner cannot deliver the documents by hand or by regular first class mail.
Different rules may apply when a petitioner is hard to locate, in the military, or in jail. Virtually all other documents can be served by first class mail or hand delivery.
Disclosing Financial Information
Issued at the beginning of the case, the standing order, which the clerk returns with the summons, requires everyone who is seeking a divorce or a dissolution to complete a Financial Declaration.
The Financial Declaration details each spouse’s financial picture, from assets and liabilities to income and expenses. The Financial Declaration, which is an affidavit sworn in front of a notary, makes it easier for everyone to understand more about, for example, reasonable child support or fair alimony. Both spouses must complete a Financial Declaration.
Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce
In addition to the standard divorce procedure, in Alaska couples may use a simplified procedure that is called dissolution of marriage when both agree:
The petitioner files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The petitioner and possibly the respondent, attend a court hearing, where the judge asks some questions, to be sure the parties understand and agree to everything, and enters a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage. A party who cannot locate the other spouse can use this alone.
For the more traditional contested divorce procedure, the petitioner files for divorce but can use this routine only when the other spouse can be located and does not agree to the settlement of all issues. Normally, in a divorce there are more documents filed than in a dissolution, and the court hearing is more complicated. A traditional divorce ends when the court issues a Decree of Divorce.
Finalizing the Divorce
It takes 30 to 6o days to finalize divorce in Alaska.
In Alaska, either spouse may request mediation in order to reach a settlement during divorce. If neither spouse requests mediation the court may order mediation if it believes that it may result in a more satisfactory settlement.
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