How to File For Divorce in Alaska
A typical divorce in Alaska constitutes severing marital relationships and the division of marital properties, assets, and debts if applicable. Also, it usually involves resolving child custody, visitation, and child support issues if there are any minors involved. Divorces in Alaska are handled in the Superior courts of the Alaska court system, in the county where the plaintiff or defendant resides. The legal proceedings regarding divorce in the state are governed by Title 25 Marital and Domestic Relations of Alaska Statutes. Usually, the court fee for filing a basic divorce in an Alaska court is $200, but the costs may be more depending on the divorce type.
Do I Need a Reason for Divorce in Alaska?
Typically, a spouse’s actions in a marriage can cause a relationship to fail. In Alaska, such actions that require finding faults in one of the partners are considered sufficient grounds for divorce. The state recognizes eight statutory grounds or justification for divorce, and they include:
- Failure to consummate the marriage
- Felony conviction
- Voluntary desertion for 12 months
- Violence, cruel, and inhuman treatment that may impair health or endanger life
- Habitual drunkenness since the beginning of the marriage and continues for up to one year
- Incurable mental illness that causes confinement of the spouse to a mental facility for at least 18 months
- Addiction of either party to the chronic use of morphine, cocaine, or similar drugs
With one or more of the above, an affected spouse may file for a fault-based divorce, but it is important to note that this type of divorce consumes time and money. However, like most states, Alaska also grants no-fault divorces where the divorce is not based on a party’s misdeeds. To get a no-fault divorce in Alaska, the parties need to state in the petition that an “incompatibility of temperament has caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage.”
The records contained in documents related to family court include both marriage and divorce records. Both types of records contain information that is considered very personal to the parties involved. The personal nature of these records results in both being considerably more difficult to find and obtain when compared to other types of public records. In many cases, these records are not available through either government sources or third party public record websites.
Why do I Need a Divorce Lawyer?
Although the Alaska state judiciary accepts and provides adequate documents and information that can be used to file for divorce without professional help, it is still advisable to hire a divorce attorney to represent the parties’ interests effectively.
An experienced divorce attorney can provide expert advice and adequate legal representation to help an affected partner receive all the compensation deserved, especially in complications such as child custody and child support issues. Also, an experienced divorce attorney is an invaluable resource that can help the parties reduce the physical and emotional stress associated with the legal procedure.
Although most divorces can be straightforward, in contested or fault-based divorces, a do-it-yourself divorce is unadvisable. It involves many intricacies that an individual who is not familiar with the state legal system might be unable to navigate. Consequently, detrimental mistakes might occur that may jeopardize the interests of the parties involved. As a result, it is advisable to hire a divorce attorney to avoid costly mistakes, unnecessary delays and to reach a clear and binding agreement.
How do I Get Started in a Divorce in Alaska?
A divorce in Alaska could be a dissolution or an actual Divorce. Dissolution in the state is an uncontested divorce where both parties in the marriage agree to separate and agree with terms of property division, custody, parenting plans, etc.
A dissolution of marriage procedure may be applicable if the spouses agree on the following:
- that the no-fault grounds for dissolution exist,
- custody, visitation, and support of any minor children,
- division of your property, and debts
If the parties decide on a dissolution, they may file a “Petition for Dissolution of Marriage.” They will be required to attend a court hearing where the court judge will confirm their agreement to all the terms stated in their petition. If this is the case, the judge will then enter a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage.
In contrast, a traditional divorce constitutes legally ending a marriage by a court order with contested court proceedings. To get started on divorce in the state, the plaintiff or filing party must be an Alaska resident for this purpose. If that is not the case and the filing party is not a resident of the state or the couple was married outside Alaska, the state court may permit dissolution or divorce if the other spouse is an Alaska resident.
They may also qualify through their children if they have any. Suppose the couple has children under age 19, they must have lived in Alaska for at least six months, and they must currently live in Alaska for the parents to be qualified for a dissolution or divorce.
After all residency requirements are confirmed, the filing spouse may file an action or petition for divorce or dissolution at the local superior court with forms obtained from Alaska Court System’s Self-Help Center. On filing the action, the plaintiff must serve the defendant with copies of all documents filed with the local superior court by certified mail/return receipt/restricted delivery or process server.
The defendant has 20 calendar days to respond to the divorce’s petition from the day of service. Without a response, the plaintiff requests a default from the court. A default divorce is when the defendant does not file any response to the divorce petition. If this order is entered, the case can progress without the defendant’s active participation. In contrast, if the spouse responds to the petition in due time, the case progresses as a contested divorce case.
For a default divorce, the plaintiff is required to file a default application, along with proof that the initial complaint or petition was served on the defendant.
Eventually, a hearing date is set, and the court will verify all documents and consider only the plaintiff’s complaint during judgment, provided the defendant refuses to participate.
Suppose the court proceeds with a default divorce and the defendant choose to participate at the time. In that case, the individual must file a response to the original complaint, along with a “Motion and Affidavit to Set Aside Entry of Default” and “Accept Late Filed Answer.” If the court grants the request, the divorce will proceed as a contested one.
How to File for Divorce in Alaska Without a Lawyer?
Most uncontested divorces or dissolutions in Alaska do not require legal representation because the interests of the parties involved are relatively safe and protected. This is because such divorces are associated with amicable agreements between the spouses involved. As a result, the state judiciary makes provisions for such cases by providing the necessary forms required to file a dissolution of marriage within the state.
However, before proceeding to fill those forms and file the petition, the following are required for uncontested divorces or dissolution of marriage in Alaska, According to state laws.
- The parties must agree to end their marriage because of “irremediable breakdown of the marriage”) (Alaska Stat. § 25.24)
- They must agree on property division, marital debts, parenting plans, legal and physical child custody, and alimony arrangements.
If these requirements are met, the parties must fill out and file the dissolution forms in the clerk’s office of the Superior Court of the judicial district where they reside. It is important to note that the forms may differ based on if the marriage produced children or not.
Divorce and marriage records may be available through government sources and organizations, though their availability cannot be guaranteed. This is also true of their availability through third-party websites and companies, as these organizations are not government-sponsored and record availability may vary further. Finally, marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information they contain, and are often sealed. Bearing these factors in mind, record availability for these types of records cannot be guaranteed.
How Does Alaska Divorce Mediation Work?
Divorce mediation in Alaska is typically used to bypass litigation and resolve family issues in the state. Under Alaska Law, The Alaska Court System may order mediation in domestic cases involving child custody/visitation cases, child-in-need-of-aid (CINA) cases, & adult guardianship/conservatorship cases, or when the court determines that mediation may result in a fair settlement. If the mediation is court-ordered, the court will bear the entire process’s costs, including personal and family counseling costs. Otherwise, the court, in its discretion, may choose who to pay for mediation if the parties choose to hire private mediators.
The mediation process usually involves a neutral third party (the mediator) who attempts to help both parties to reach an agreement concerning certain issues. However, the court will not order mediation for divorce cases involving domestic violence.
If the spouses reach an agreement via mediation, their attorneys will help draft legal documents to that effect for court approval. The entire process is usually confidential, and utterances or statements made during mediation may not be used in court if the mediation fails to produce an amicable resolution.
This option(mediation) is often chosen because it costs less than a court trial and protects the parties involved from the emotional stress associated with a contested divorce.
How Long After Mediation is Divorce Final in Alaska?
Typically, a divorce in Alaska takes between 30–90 days before it is finalized. This may vary depending on situations such as court caseload or judge availability. However, a mediation could considerably reduce the time it takes to finalize a divorce because it simply involves agreements made outside the court, which is not subject to the court’s caseload.
Thus, if the parties agree on all important issues in their divorce, the court will review and approve the signed mediation agreement and finalize the divorce. In Alaska, this may be completed in a minimum of 30 days.
Are Divorce Records Public in Alaska?
Under Alaska law, the State Bureau Of Vital Statistics divorce records is legally restricted and unavailable to the public. However, public access is granted to divorce records of marriages that occurred over 50 years ago. That is, the department restricts access to dissolution or divorces for 50 years after the event is documented. Afterward, the records become open for public inspection and copying.
Records still under protection are open to a selected few, such as the parties involved and their legal representatives. However, divorce decrees containing the intricate details of the divorce are only open to an authorized few.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
How do I Get Alaska Divorce Records
The Alaska Department of Public Health, State Troopers, Health Analytics, and Records maintain and distribute vital records in Alaska, including divorce certificates. The state office maintains divorce records from 1950 till date. These records are obtainable for $30 from the department, and for additional copies, an inquirer will be charged $25. The department does not accept personal checks. Hence, the money order should be made payable to the Bureau of Vital Statistics. These requests may be made in person or via mail at:
Department of Health and Social Services
Alaska Health Analytics & Vital Records Section
P. O. Box 110675
Juneau, AK 99811–0675
Inquirers can order copies of divorce records by using a downloadable form provided on the department’s website. When ordering a divorce record, inquirers must provide their relationship to the person named on the certificate and the reason for requesting the record.
The applications for these records must contain the downloaded and completed form, fees, and a signed acceptable I. D. such as;
- Driver’s license
- State-issued ID
- Military ID
- Tribal/BIA card (with picture)
Individuals with none of the above identification forms may contact (907) 465–3391 for assistance.
Alaska divorce decrees and pre–1950 divorce records may be obtained from the county’s local Superior court where the divorce was finalized.