Divorce in Alaska: a brief analysis

Divorce in Alaska. Alaska is one of the most beautiful places on earth offering stunning outdoor activities and breathtaking wide open spaces. 

But did you know; Alaska has one of the highest divorce rates in the United States? 

Divorce in Alaska
Divorce in Alaska

In 1990 the divorce rate in Alaska was 5.5 divorces per 1000 residents which got reduced to 3.6 divorces per 1000 residents in 2021. 

Even today, the divorce rate in Alaska is surprisingly high compared to other states.

Every state deals with divorce cases in its way. In this article, we are going to take an in-depth look into the divorce laws in Alaska and the options available to parties getting a divorce in Alaska.

Divorce laws in Alaska

Divorce laws in Alaska
Divorce laws in Alaska

Divorce is a difficult phase for everyone which brings upheaval of emotional and financial problems in the lives of the couples.

If you have finally decided to end your marriage and you are an Alaska resident, you can file for either a fault-based divorce or a no-fault divorce.

The fault-based divorce policy requires the divorcing parties to prove the fault of the spouse that led to the breakdown of the marriage.

On the other hand, the no-fault divorce policy, which many states follow today, allows the divorcing party to seek a divorce without blaming either party for the breakdown of the marriage.

Alaska, like many states, follows a no-fault divorce policy that allows couples to file for divorce without proving fault of either party. There is no need to prove the fault of either party which led to the breakdown of the marriage.

The only reasons divorcing parties are required to mention is the incompatibility of temperament, which denotes that there is irreconcilable difference between couples and there is no way the couple can continue living together in harmony. 

The no fault divorces are generally preferred as they provide quicker divorce as compared to fault based divorces.

In addition, the Alaska family law gives couples an option to file for a fault based divorce where the couples can prove the marital misconduct of the spouse which led to the breakdown of marriage.

Alaska family law lists a list of grounds on which a divorce may be granted.

Following the fault-based divorce policy, there are eight grounds for divorce in Alaska. They are: 

  1. Failure to consummate the marriage 
  2. Adultery;
  3. Conviction of a felony;
  4. Willful desertion for one year;
  5. Cruelty and inhuman treatment 
  6. Personal insults are making life cumbersome
  7. Habitual gross intoxicant since marriage which continues for one year before filing the suit.
  8. Incurable mental illness 
  9. Incompatibility of temperament
  10. Habitual heavy drinker(habitual use of opium, morphine, cocaine, or a similar drug.)

Major legal issues arising from divorce in Alaska

Three cases come to the fore in disputed divorce cases, namely;

  • Distribution of property or community property
  • Spousal support
  • Child custody and visitation 

If you and your spouse can agree on these above listed matters, then you can file for uncontested divorce in the court.  On the other hand, if you and your spouse cannot agree on these matters, you will have to go through a long court hearing.

Let’s take delve deeper into these three matters arising out of divorce proceedings:

Distribution of property following a divorce in Alaska

Community property is property of a spouse acquired jointly or made joint property through some agreement or a community property trust during the subsistence of their marriage. When couples decide to break up their relationship, one of the first questions that come to mind is how property and debts are being; distributed. 

If the divorce is by mutual agreement, then there’s nothing to worry about, but if the divorce is contested when the husband and wife do not reach any conclusion, it becomes difficult to divide the property.

The Alaska statute allows courts to consider any factor they deem fit to distribute the property fairly and equally among spouses. Generally, the length of the marriage plays a key role in distributing property. 

If many years have passed, then the property is distributed in equal shares and if the couple is seeking a divorce in a short duration, the family court judge may return each party the separate property they brought into the marriage and distribute any remaining property as fairly as possible.

The separate property brought by spouses may become community property if the couple demonstrates an intent through; their words or action to consider the separate property as community property.

Thus, community property in Alaska is distributed as fairly and equitably as possible among spouses.

Spousal support

Aiming to maintain the status quo of couples and reduce the financial gap after divorce, the family court orders the higher-earning spouse to provide spousal support to the needy spouse.

In Alaska, spousal support get provided in two ways:

  • Rehabilitation support: It is provided to help the spouse obtain education and training to help them achieve their working goals and acquire the skills and abilities necessary for that purpose. Usually, it lasts for a maximum of four years. The objective of these aids is to make the receiving spouse self-dependent.
  • Reorientation support: It helps the spouse receiving support adjust to a post-divorce situation, who got left with a lesser share of the property or the community property fails to meet his or her financial needs. Generally, this support gets provided for a one-year maximum.

Unlike many states, Alaska allows either party to file for spousal support under state laws.

In addition, either spouse may file for temporary spousal support showing reasonable cause until the finalization of the divorce.

Divorce with children in Alaska: Child support and custodial laws

Divorce brings upheaval in everyone’s life, and the situation becomes even worse when children are involved. Seeing his or her parents getting divorced has a very ill effect on a child’s life. They may feel a rollercoaster of emotions like anger, sadness, and loneliness, and their mental health may also get affected. 

And this is why courts keep the child’s best interest and welfare as a primary consideration when determining child custody. The family court judges take several factors into account when determining child custody. They are:

  • The physical, emotional, mental, and social needs of the child for their overall development;
  • The parental fitness to meet the above mentioned needs.
  • The child’s desire and preference (if the child is competent to do so)
  • The parent’s ability to provide the child with a stable and optimal environment similar to the one he or she had before the divorce.
  • The readiness and intention of the parent to keep and encourage an optimal relationship between the other parent and the child.
  • The past abusive behavior of parents.
  • Any parent or other household member is addicted to drugs that directly affect the child’s emotional or physical well-being.
  • Such other factors as the Court may deem fit in determining the child’s best interest.

If neither parent has a past abusive history, then the judges may take it into consideration and impose restrictions on the visitation by that parent. 

In addition, that parent gets required to attend and complete an intervention program and a parent education program for the battered parent.

Residential requirements for filing for divorce

There is no residential requirement in Alaska for seeking divorce under the state laws. However, the parties to the marriage seeking a divorce in Alaska are required to be residents of Alaska. Even if either party of the marriage is a resident of Alaska, it is sufficient to file for divorce under state laws.

Residential Requirements for Divorce for Military Members

When it comes to military spouses, if one of the spouses is serving in the military in Alaska for 30 consecutive days, they are considered an Alaska resident for purposes of filing for divorce/dissolution and permitted to file for divorce under state laws.

In addition, Alaska law gives military personnel three options for location when filing for divorce under state law:

State where they get posted.

The state where they live.

The state where they claim legal residence.

Thus, to file for divorce in Alaska, either party to the marriage must be a resident of Alaska. And if either party is serving in the military, they can file for divorce at any locations mentioned above following the state laws.

Cost of filing for divorce in Alaska

You will need to pay a $200 court fee to get a divorce from your spouse in Alaska court. Also if the divorce is contested, the cost can be very high.  The cost of the lawyer’s fees and arbitration may cost you around $15000-$20000.

Thus, getting a divorce in Alaska can be costly if you are opting for a court trial.

Wrapping up

Court cases are costly and time-consuming. Therefore mediation or out-of-court settlement may be your best option. However, if you have decided to file for a contested divorce, your best bet may be to hire an expert divorce lawyer. They can navigate you through the divorce proceedings and help you get the best outcome possible.

Read also: ADULTERY IN ALASKA; How to Get Divorced in Florida; Palm Beach Divorce Attorney; How much does a divorce cost in the United States?; What is divorce; Unreasonable behavior divorce

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