Divorce in Alaska, Part 2

Continued from Divorce in Alaska, Part 1

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Residency requirements (cont’d)

In Part 1, we discussed the role of the divorce attorney, the benefits of grief counseling and the need to urgently address any domestic violence (plus link to statewide resources). We began highlighting major points from the Alaska Court System’s Self-Help Center: Family Law, beginning with residency requirements, which is where we now resume:

What is the residency requirement if you’re a military member or spouse?

If you are serving in the military and are continuously stationed at a military base in Alaska for at least 30 days, you are an Alaskan resident for the purposes of filing a divorce case. But think carefully about where you want to file because there are 3 options for a military member or spouse:

  • The state where the military member is stationed;
  • The state where the spouse resides; or
  • The state where the military member claims legal residency (place where military member plans to live after discharge or retirement).

Although either spouse may file for divorce in any of the three locations listed above, the laws about divorce and property distribution may be different in each state. You should consult with an attorney to decide where is the best place to file your case.

What if you don’t meet the residency requirement?

If the court finds that it does not have jurisdiction to hear the case because you don’t meet the residency requirement, the case may be dismissed.

Jurisdiction is a very complicated subject and you should talk to an attorney to figure out where is the best place to file your case. If you don’t meet the residency requirements to file in Alaska, here are some options:

  1. Do not move forward with filing your case in Alaska.
  2. Establish residency in Alaska for the period of time discussed above depending on your case type.
  3. Have your spouse file the case if he or she meets the necessary residency requirements for Alaska.
  4. Choose another state where you or your spouse meets the residency requirements. State residency laws may be different so check the state in which you were married and the states where you each may live as options for where to file.

NOTE: If your spouse is in the military, he or she is not subject to default. Civilian spouses who do not respond/appear after being properly served can not stop divorce proceedings–the judge will award divorce by default. But active service members are protected by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, Public Law 108-189.

Continued in Divorce in Alaska, Part 3.

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