How are Divorce Records Generated in Alaska?
Alaska divorce records are documents that confirm that a divorce was granted by a competent court in Alaska. Alaska is a state with an average rate of divorces. According to the US Census website, There are an estimated 7.6 divorces per 1000 women aged 15 and above in Alaska.
By Alaskan law, a marriage can be terminated in four different ways:
- Dissolution of marriage
- Legal Separation
The 2019 Alaska Statute § 25.24.030 provides grounds for which a judge may declare a marriage void. These grounds include bigamy, failure to consummate the marriage, and mental illness of a party. Also, if a party was a minor at the start of the marriage or consent to the marriage was obtained by fraud, or under duress, the marriage would be declared void.
When one of the parties claims that the marriage is void or voidable, the other party can bring an action under § 25.24.040 of the 2019 Alaska Statutes for the marriage to be declared valid.
Legal separation does not completely dissolve a marriage. The couple would still be legally married and cannot remarry another person other than the spouse. A couple can seek legal separation if both of them believe that a divorce would be detrimental to certain legal, financial, social, or religious interests.
The court would also grant legal separation on the ground of incompatibility of temperament. This is as provided by § 25.24.410 of the same statute.
Under the Alaska Court System, the difference between a divorce and a dissolution is the agreement of the parties. If the couple has settled all the issues, a dissolution will apply. If, on the other hand, the parties are not in agreement one spouse should file for divorce.
According to § 25.24.200, a spouse can also petition the court for dissolution if the whereabouts of the other spouse is unknown. The petitioner should have, however, made reasonable efforts to locate the absent spouse.
As such, there are no types of divorce in Alaska. Instead, what is usually termed uncontested divorce is the Dissolution of Marriage.
To be eligible for a dissolution, the couple must have agreed to terminate the marriage. Both spouses must have also settled issues such as alimony, division of debts and properties, and child support. This is as stipulated by the 2019 Alaska Statutes § 25.24.200.
Where the couple is unable to reach an agreement concerning these issues, a divorce would be applicable. By § 25.24.050 of the 2019 Alaska Statutes, the grounds for which a party can obtain a divorce include:
- Failure to consummate the marriage
- Addiction of a party to illegal drugs
- Incurable mental illness of one spouse
- Habitual drunkenness of a spouse for at least one year
- Wilful desertion for at least one year
- Conviction of a felony
- Cruel and inhuman treatment
- Incompatibility of temperament
A divorce because it is contested requires more time and money. The case can be in court for as long as one year before its finalization. The parties would also need the services of attorneys, which results in more expenses. A dissolution, on the other hand, can be finalized within thirty to ninety days. It is also less expensive.
The Health Analytics & Vital Records of the Department of Health and Social Services are responsible for maintaining divorce certificates. Divorce decree and divorce case files are kept and maintained with the Superior Court where the divorce was granted. Alaska Court System.
Are Divorce Records Public in Alaska?
In Alaska, divorce records are considered vital records. And § 40.25.120 of the 2019 Alaska Statutes excludes vital records from the category of the public records.
At the time of the divorce’s finalization, the records are private. Only the parties to the divorce, the couple’s family members, and legal representatives can access the records.
However, by § 18.50.310 of the same statute, divorce records become public records after 50 years from the date of the divorce. This means that the public can access the records after 50 years have elapsed.
What are the types of Divorce Records available in Alaska?
In Alaska, divorce records are generally of three types:
- Divorce case files,
- Divorce certificates, and
- Divorce decrees.
A divorce certificate is a document providing basic information on the divorce. It serves as proof that a marriage was legally terminated. The names of the divorced couple, as well as the location of the divorce, are stated on the certificate. The State Vital Records Office maintains divorce certificates.
A divorce decree is the signed order of a competent court stating that a marriage has been terminated. It furnishes the full information about the divorce. Such information includes spousal support, parental planning, division of assets, and other ancillary terms.
Divorce case files are documents encompassing the entire court processes used in the divorce. The divorce decrees and divorce case files are available at the state level from Alaska Court System. The records can also be gotten from the Clerk of the Superior Court where the divorce was granted.
How Do I Get Divorce Records in Alaska?
Unless the divorce record has existed for more than 50 years, only authorized persons can access it. Authorized persons include the parties named on the record, their close family relatives, and legal representatives. Any authorized person can obtain Alaska divorce records of whatever type by mail, fax, or in person.
Divorce certificates dating as far back as 1950 are kept and maintained by the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. Older records are available at the superior court where the marriage was terminated.
To request a copy of a divorce certificate, complete the Divorce Certificate Request Form. The Vital Records Office charges a fee of $30 for the first copy of a divorce certificate requested. For each additional copy ordered at the same time, the requester is required to pay a fee of $25.
The requester can make payment by either personal check or money order payable to the “Alaska Vital Records Office.” The requester must also provide a government-issued photo ID.
The accepted means of identification are Driver’s license, State-issued I.D card, Passport, Military ID, and Tribal/BIA card. The request form should be downloaded, printed, and submitted with the fee and identification.
For fax requests, send the applicable fee, completed request form, and copy of acceptable identification to (907) 465–3618.
To obtain the certificate by mail, send the completed request form, copy of acceptable ID, and the appropriate fee to
Department of Health and Social Services
Bureau of Vital Statistics
P. O. Box 110675
Juneau, AK 99811–0675
The Vital Records Department has two offices in Anchorage or Juneau. The requestor should visit any of these offices for in-person requests.
Divorce decrees and divorce case files are obtainable from the Alaska Court System online portal. The requester is required to use any of the request forms provided on the website.
Courts in Anchorage, Saint Paul Island, and Sand Point have one request form, while courts in Fairbanks have another request form. Different request forms are also provided for courts in Palmer and any other location asides the ones mentioned.
For one copy of the requested record, the fee is $5 and each extra copy requested at the same time costs $3. The fee for a certified copy is $10 and then $3 for any additional copy. Payment can be made by money order or personal check.
The completed request form and fee can be submitted by mail, fax, and in person. The details for submitting the completed request forms are available in the respective forms.
Alternatively, the requester should contact the Clerk of Court where the divorce was granted to obtain a divorce decree and divorce case file.
While divorce and marriage records may be searched through government sources and organizations, the availability of these documents cannot be guaranteed. This is also true of their availability through third-party websites and companies, as these entities are not government-sponsored therefore record availability may vary further.
Also note that marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information the records contain, and are often sealed. Hence, bearing in mind that these factors determine the availability of any type of marriage or divorce record.
Who Can Obtain Divorce Records in Alaska?
Divorce records are private records for the first 50 years after its finalization. Within that period, only the parties, close family members, and attorneys can access the records. After the expiration of that period, the records become public records. As such, the records are accessible to any member of the public.
Are Alaska Divorce Records available online?
The Health Analytics and Vital Records Division has an online portal through which requesters can order for divorce certificates. Because divorce records are generally not public records, requesters cannot view the divorce records on the portal.
The divorce certificates cannot be obtained online through the portal. Rather, the requester can download the application form and make the request by fax, mail, or in person.
Requesters of divorce case files and divorce decrees can also visit the Alaska Court System’s website. Like the Vital Records portal, the site makes request forms available. The forms would, however, be submitted in person, by email, fax, or mail.
How Do I seal My Divorce Records in Alaska?
Pursuant to § 40.25.120 of the 2019 Alaska Statutes, divorce records being a record of vital statistics are not public records. This means that there would ordinarily be no need to have divorce records sealed. However, § 18.50.310 of the same statute makes divorce records public records 50 years after its occurrence. Therefore the need to seal divorce records can arise.
The party requesting that the record be sealed can fill a request to seal form, asking the court to seal the entire divorce case file or specific documents. The judge has complete discretion to either grant or refuses the petition.
The petitioner by way of the application must prove that the public interest of disclosure is overridden by either:
- The threat of injury to persons
- Privacy rights and interests of individuals
- Public safety
- Proprietary business information
- The deliberative process
Should the judge decide to grant the request, the divorce records would only be accessible to the judge and any other person authorized by a written court order.