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Child Custody Laws in Alaska

Child Custody Laws in Alaska



Over the last decade, Alaska’s child custody laws and regulations have evolved to reflect the state’s commitment to prioritizing the best interests of children involved in custody cases. This article presents a comprehensive overview of key updates in Alaska’s child custody laws and regulations from 2013 to 2023.

2013: Child’s Best Interests

   – Emphasis on the child’s best interests as the primary consideration in custody determinations.

2014: Shared Custody Encouragement

   – Encouragement of shared custody arrangements to promote active involvement of both parents.

2015: Parenting Plans Mandate

   – Introduction of mandatory parenting plans outlining custody, visitation, and support details.

2016: Child’s Preferences Consideration

   – Consideration of the child’s preferences in custody decisions based on age and maturity.

2017: Grandparent Visitation Recognition

   – Recognition of grandparent visitation rights in custody proceedings.

2018: Focus on Domestic Violence

   – Strengthened provisions to safeguard children from exposure to domestic violence.

2019: Mediation Promotion

   – Promotion of mediation to resolve custody disputes outside of court.

2020: Military Deployment Consideration

   – Consideration of military deployment’s impact on custody arrangements.

2021: Virtual Visitation Acknowledgment

   – Acknowledgment of virtual visitation as a viable option for non-custodial parents to connect with their child.

2022: Child Support Alignment

   – Alignment of child custody and child support procedures for consistency.

2023: Relocation Guidelines

   – Implementation of guidelines for parents seeking to relocate with their child, ensuring stability.

Alaska’s ongoing commitment to refining child custody laws underscores the state’s dedication to the well-being of children and families. Staying informed about these changes is crucial for parents and legal professionals navigating the complexities of custody matters.

Guide to Child Custody Laws in Alaska

If you are an Alaskan parent who is involved in a custody dispute, you may not know all the types of custody the state allows.  Understanding child custody laws in Alaska can help you navigate the family court system more easily and quickly.  This guide will explain the types of custody offered to parents in Alaska as well as some other aspects of child custody that many parents need to know about before they go to court.

Can Children Decide?

Even if a child has a strong preference for staying with one parent or another, child custody laws in Alaska do not allow a child’s preferences to be the sole determining factor in child custody proceedings at any age.  Children are only allowed to choose which parent to live with after they have attained the age of majority at 18.

Child custody laws in Alaska do allow judges to take a child’s preferences into account as one factor in their determinations, but only when considered in conjunction with many other factors.

Parenting Plans

Many parents prefer not to go through the heartache and expense of custody hearings.  For these parents, developing a parenting plan may be a good idea.  Parenting plans are explicitly allowed by child custody laws in Alaska, and let parents who can agree on how to divide their parental responsibilities draft a compromise agreement.  This agreement is then given to the court for final approval.  Generally, as long as the agreement appears to be in the best interest of the child, it will be signed off on.

Parenting plans must include a great deal of information about how parenting responsibilities will be split, including information about where a child will live, who will have responsibility for each aspect of the child’s life, and what will be done in the event of parental disputes over shared responsibilities.

Legal Custody

Legal custody, which means the ability to make important decisions about a child, can be awarded as shared custody or sole custody.  Child custody laws in Alaska prefer shared legal custody, in which parents work together to make determinations about their child’s education, healthcare, and religion.  However, sole legal custody, which puts these decisions into one parent’s hands, may be awarded if this appears to be in the child’s best interest.

Types of Physical Custody

Child custody laws in Alaska actually allow for four different types of physical custody (which determines where a child will live).  They are:

ñ Shared physical custody, in which each parent spends at least 30% of the year with their child.

ñ Primary physical custody, in which one parent is lived with more than 70% of the year.

ñ Divided custody, in which one parent has custody of at least one child, while the other parent has custody of at least on other child, but the parents don’t share primary physical custody of any child.

ñ Hybrid custody, in which one parent or both parents have primary physical custody of at least one child, and shared custody of at least one child.