How to File for a Divorce in Alaska

How to File for a Divorce in Alaska

Alaska, America’s last frontier, has a higher ratio of men to women than any other state.  That seems to lead to troubled marriages.  In the gold rush days things were way worse, but even today Alaska has some of the highest divorce rates in the country.  To file a divorce in Alaska, here are some things you need to know.   

Establish residency

Alaska does not have a minimum residency requirement.  You simply have to live in the state and intend to stay there.  If you are stationed in the military in Alaska you must be there for 30 days before filing for divorce or dissolution.   

Grounds for divorce

In Alaska, you can file for either a “dissolution” or a “divorce.”  

A dissolution is basically what other states might call a joint petition for divorce or an uncontested divorce.

It means that the couple has come to an agreement on issues like property division and child support, and they are just asking the court to approve their agreement.  

But how to file for a divorce in Alaska if no middle ground can be reached by the couple.

Alaska has maintained some “fault” grounds for divorce, including failure to consummate, adultery, conviction of a felony, desertion, mental illness, drug addiction, and habitual gross drunkenness.  Most divorces will be on “no-fault” grounds, though. That means the couple just wants to split up and go their separate ways.

In Alaska, the no-fault ground requires a finding that an “incompatibility of temperament has caused an irremediable breakdown of the marriage.”  

Issues resolved in the divorce

Alaska courts are generally required to address child custody and property division when issuing a divorce.  There is an exception only if all the parties agree to a delay, there is good cause for the delay, and the delay will not cause any harm.  

The court will consider the risk of diminishing the couple’s assets, harming the best interests of the child, and tax consequences, among other things. 

Issues resolved in the divorce

The process in court to file for  divorce in Alaska

If you and your spouse can agree on all of the issues, then you can seek a dissolution.  Note that coming to an agreement does not necessarily mean things are easy.  Some couples can simply split their checking account down the middle and then file for a dissolution.  Other couples will have a long, ugly fight. This may involve mediators and other third-parties that try to work out a resolution.  

In a regular divorce, one spouse will petition for divorce from the other.  

Each couple will ask for what they want and may bring witnesses and paperwork to provide evidence for their claims.  

After that, the judge will decide what each spouse should get in the way of money and child custody.  

Ultimately, the court will order a judgment for divorce after considering a number of issues.  The court will split the couple’s property and can order spousal support payments.  It must consider factors like the length of the marriage, the age, and health of the spouses, the earning capacity of the couple, the conduct of each spouse, and the spouses’ relative financial condition.  Two doctors getting divorced might be treated much differently than a housewife divorcing from a doctor because the housewife’s contributions to the marriage helped the doctor but will leave her at a disadvantage after the divorce.  The doctor is generally not required to keep up an ex-wife’s lifestyle indefinitely, though.

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