Divorce in Alaska, Part 1

Custody can be decided for children who have lived in state at least 6 months

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Attorney useful even in uncontested proceedings

Experts and legal authorities advise both parties in a contemplated divorce to retain legal counsel, for at least an initial consultation to make clear their legal rights and risks. Even in an uncontested divorce in which both parties agree, experts say the Petitioner (or plaintiff, in some states, which call the Respondent the defendant) should have an attorney in order to ensure the filing is legal and the eventual decree enforceable.

Professional counseling

Another thing to consider is professional counseling; many who go through divorce (“dissolution of marriage”) report pain and grief equivalent to that of a death in the family. Even when both parties recognize the relationship has run its course, the emotional upheaval can be traumatic. A compatible, experienced attorney can help with appropriate referrals.

Urgently addressing domestic violence

Furthermore, if the relationship includes domestic violence, that must be addressed in urgent fashion. According to a 2010 story in the Anchorage Daily News, “The first survey of Alaska women about sexual assault and domestic violence found that more than half had been victimized at some point in their life and about one in eight had been victimized in the year before the survey.” Competent counsel can be invaluable not only in helping arrange shelter but also with filing protective orders and so on. Fortunately, residents of Alaska also have a variety of facilities and agencies that provide multiple services; following are some of the online resources:

Residency requirements

Alaska requirements are not strict and may rely on intent. Military personnel stationed in Alaska have more options than civilians do and are advised to speak with an attorney. When children are involved, they are covered by residency requirements.  The following is from the Alaska Court System, Self-Help Center: Family Law–

Either you or your spouse may file for divorce in Alaska as long as the filing spouse is a resident of the state. Generally, you are an Alaska resident for the purposes of filing for divorce if you are in Alaska when you file and intend to stay as a resident. Also, if you don’t live in Alaska and were married outside of Alaska, but your spouse is an Alaska resident, you can file for divorce in Alaska.

Child Custody Jurisdiction

In order for the Alaska court to have jurisdiction or authority to decide about child custody, a child normally must have been a resident of the state for at least 6 months before filing the custody case. Otherwise, the court may not have jurisdiction to decide custody issues.

Continued in Divorce in Alaska, Part 2.

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