Divorce in Alaska

If you are getting divorced in Alaska, below you will find a helpful summary of the main laws on divorce and custody for AK, and be able access to the child support calculator, do it yourself divorce options, and more. You can also locate qualified divorce lawyers, support groups, and information about domestic abuse services.

Alaska Divorce Laws

Based on Alaska Statutes - TITLE 25 Marital and Domestic Relations
Copyright notice regarding state divorce laws

Residency requirements:
The spouse who files for divorce needs to be a resident of Alaska, unless the marriage occurred outside of Alaska and the other spouse is currently an Alaska resident. There is no residency time limit to file for divorce. Military personnel (and their spouses) who have been stationed in Alaska for 30 days or more can also file for a divorce in Alaska.

Steps to filing for a Divorce or Dissolution in Alaska:
Divorce and dissolution papers are filed with the Superior Court. The respondent has 20 days from the date of being served in which to prepare and submit an answer to the divorce petition. If an answer isn't filed within the 20 day time limit, the plaintiff can file for a default divorce. Generally, there is a 30 day waiting period after the divorce is filed before a judge will sign the final decree.

What is the difference between dissolution and divorce?
A petition for dissolution can be filed jointly if both spouses agree on everything (dividing assets and debts, custody, alimony, etc.). If the spouses don't agree on everything, then one spouse can file for a divorce.

Legal Separation in Alaska:
One spouse must be an Alaska resident to file for a legal separation. Military personnel must be stationed in Alaska for at least 30 days before filing for a legal separation. Custody of the minor children, child support, property and debt division, and alimony can be determined in a legal separation. If either spouse files for a divorce after a complaint for a legal separation is before the court, the two actions can be consolidated.

Can you get an annulment?
Alaska doesn't grant an annulment per se, but rather will declare that a marriage was never valid. This is determined if it is established that the marriage was void or voidable based on the following grounds:

  • If one of the parties was already married to another person.
  • If the spouses are more closely related to each other than third cousins (either whole or half-blood)
  • If either party was a minor and didn’t receive the consent of their parent or guardian. An annulment may not be filed if the parties willingly lived together as husband and wife after the minor party attained the age to legally consent to marriage.
  • If either party was of a mentally impaired state at the time of marriage, unless the couple willingly lived as husband and wife after the impaired party comes to reason.
  • If the marriage was entered into fraudulently, unless the individuals freely lived together as a married couple after the facts constituting the fraud are revealed.
  • If one party was pressured to consent to the marriage, unless that spouse willingly lives with the other after the marriage.
  • Failure to consummate the marital relationship at the time of the marriage. An annulment may not be granted if the couple later on has sexual relations during the marriage.

Grounds for dissolution of marriage in Alaska:

  • incompatibility of temperament;
  • adultery;
  • impotency at the time of marriage which has continued throughout the marriage;
  • a felony conviction
  • willful abandonment for at least a year;
  • alcoholism contracted since the marriage which continues for more than a year preceding filing for divorce;
  • drug addiction;
  • cruel and inhuman treatment which would impair a person's health or endanger their life;
  • personal indignities rendering life oppressive; or
  • confinement to an institution for at least 18 months for incurable mental illness prior to filing for the divorce.

Property division in Alaska:
Assets owned prior to marriage are deemed separate property, as are assets acquired by gift or inheritance, and are not divisible in a divorce. Debts acquired prior to the marriage will remain the separate liability of each spouse.

All assets and debt obligations acquired after a couple marries will be divided equitably in a divorce if the spouses cannot mutually agree to the division. The court will try to justly divorce the marital estate (including retirement benefits) based:

  • Length of marriage and the level of prosperity established while married;
  • The age of each party, in addition to their physical health;
  • Each spouse's predicted income potential in the workforce, taking into consideration their educational background and career training, absences from the work-force, and their child care responsibilities;
  • The economic stability of each spouse, including the ability to obtain health insurance at a reasonable cost;
  • Misconduct of either spouse in the excessive dissipation of the marital estate;
  • Whether the custodial parent will be awarded the house, or the right to reside there for a sufficient period of time to raise the children;
  • The needs and circumstances of each spouse;
  • When and how the property was acquired, the fair market value of the property at the time the marital estate is divided, and its revenue-generating capacity.

When is alimony awarded?
Alimony is called "maintenance" in Alaska and may be awarded either as a lump-sum or through payments over time. Fault is not a factor in awarding maintenance. When establishing the amount and duration of the maintenance, the court takes these factors into consideration:

  • How many years the couple was married and the lifestyle they established during that time;
  • How old each party is and their physical health;
  • The earning capacity of each spouse, taking into consideration their educational background and career training, absences from the work-force, and their child care responsibilities;
  • The economic stability of each spouse, including the ability to obtain health insurance at a reasonable cost;
  • Misconduct of either spouse in the unreasonable depletion of marital assets;
  • How marital assets, property, and debt obligations will be divided in the divorce;
  • Any additional factors deemed relevant by the court.

Name change:
Alaska allows for either spouse to return to a previous name as part of a divorce proceeding. If the request is to change the name to something other than a prior name, a hearing will need to be held, with publication of the hearing posted in a newspaper in the judicial district. If no reasonable objection exists for the assumption of the new name, the court will authorize the change after a period of at least 30 days.

Custody laws in Alaska:
Parents are encouraged by the court to mutually arrive at their own agreement concerning custody. If the parents work out a custody agreement, the court makes its determination guided by what will be best for the child, without preference being given to either parent. When awarding custody, the court takes into consideration:

  1. the child's physical, emotional, mental, religious, and social needs;
  2. each parent's ability and desire to meet these needs;
  3. the preference of the child, taking into consideration the child's age and capacity to form a preference;
  4. the loving bond between the child and each parent;
  5. length of time the child has lived in a stable, acceptable setting and the desirability of continuing the status quo;
  6. each parent's willingness to encourage their child's close and on-going relationship with their other parent. This is not a factor if it is found that one parent has sexually assaulted or committed acts of domestic violence against the parent or a child, and that an on-going 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 any other members of the household which would directly affect the emotional or physical well-being of the child;
  9. any other factors that the court considers pertinent.

If the court determines it would serve the best interests of the children, shared custody may be awarded to assure frequent and continuing contact between the children and both parents. The court will also consider the following factors in the decision to award shared custody:

  • the preferences of the child, taking into consideration the child's age and capacity to form such a preference;
  • the child's needs;
  • the stability of each parent's home environment;
  • the education of the child;
  • the benefits of keeping the child in the community where he or she currently lives;
  • how much time the child should spend with each parent considering how close the parents live to each other and the school that the child attends, the practicality of travel between the parent's homes, and how much time the child actually spends with each parent.
  • whether one parent may be able to better meet any special needs of the child;
  • each parent's willingness to encourage their child's close and on-going relationship with their other parent. This is not a factor if it is found that one parent has sexually assaulted or committed acts of domestic violence against the parent or a child, and that an on-going relationship with the other parent will endanger the health or safety of either the parent or the child;
  • findings and recommendations of a neutral mediator;
  • evidence of domestic violence, child abuse, or child neglect in the proposed custodial home or a history of violence between the parents;
  • evidence of substance abuse by either parent or any other member of the household which would directly affect the well-being of the child;
  • any other factors the court deem relevant.

The court may also require parents to fulfill certain parenting education requirements. These vary by court district, so you should contact your local court regarding the parenting education requirements.

Alaska child support:
Civil Rule 90.3 outlines out the formulas used to calculate child support in Alaska. The amount of child support that will be awarded is determined by the custody arrangements and the amount of time the child spends with each parent. In situations where one parent is awarded primary physical custody, the non-custodial parent's adjusted gross income is multiplied by a percentage based on the number of children to be supported. The minimum amount of child support that can be ordered is $50/month.

In cases where there is shared or hybrid physical custody, then both parent's adjusted gross incomes shall be used to compute the level of child support, taking into consideration how much time the child is with each parent.

Since the state has a large number of seasonal jobs, the court has the flexibility of ordering unequal monthly payments. In these situations, the total amount of unequal monthly payments paid during the year would equal the annual total if standard payment were made. Either parent may be required to provide health coverage for their child if it's available at an affordable cost. The cost of health care coverage may be added or subtracted from the child support obligation depending on which parent carries the coverage. Uncovered medical expenses shall be shared by the parents.

Child support modifications are allowed if there is change in circumstances that would change in the child support order 15% or more (including health insurance coverage). Generally, child support ends when a child reaches age 18 (or 19 if the child is enrolled in high school or the equivalent and residing with custodial parent). Child support also ends when the child becomes emancipated by getting parental consent to live independently from his or her parents.



Do It Yourself Divorce Resources

Divorce & Separation Forms - US Legal offers divorce packages and separation agreements that you can download onto your computer. These forms are specific to Alaska and are only available for uncontested divorces.

Online Divorce - This online service for uncontested divorced can help you easily prepare your paperwork by guiding you through sequential questions relevant to your situation. In addition, you'll get filing instructions and have access to numerous downloadable books discussing many of the topics which need to be addressed in a divorce.

QDRO Document Preparation - QdroDesk™ is an instant online QRDO preparation service which makes it simple to generate the documents which are required to divide qualified retirement plans during a divorce.

General Divorce Information: Provided by AlaskaLawHelp.org. This site offers a wealth of information about getting a divorce in Alaska, with links to additional sites and information.



Domestic Abuse

Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault



By , WomansDivorce.com editor