Alaskan law encourages parents to work out custody arrangements themselves without bringing the issue to court. If they cannot come to an agreement, courts make custody decisions based on what is in the "best interest" of the child. 

What Is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a detailed, written agreement that sets out how divorcing parents will share legal and physical custody of their children. In Alaska, parents are encouraged to negotiate parenting plan before getting the court involved.

If parents cannot agree on a plan, they may be required to mediate their custody dispute. If they still cannot agree to a parenting play, they can submit separate, proposed parenting plans to the court. The court will consider their proposals when assigning custody.

What Does the Court Consider in Assigning Custody?

Alaska’s courts balance a series of factors when determining the best interest of a child.  These factors include:

  • The physical, emotional, mental, religious, and social needs of the child,
  • The parents’ ability and willingness to raise the child,
  • The depth and quality of the parent-child relationship,
  • The physical and mental health of the child and parents,,
  • The parents’ conduct and moral standards,
  • Evidence of child abuse or spousal abuse,
  • The child’s reasonable preference (if age appropriate), and
  • Any other relevant factors.

A parent’s gender is not considered as a factor. In a custody dispute, a guardian ad litem may be assigned to advocate for the child and help assess his or her best interests.

Additionally, most divorcing parents are required to participate in a parent education program. Parent education does not focus on routine parenting skills. Instead, it helps parents understand how divorce impacts children.  

What Happens When the Court Has Made a Decision?

Once the parenting plan and divorce order are approved, they are filed with the court clerk. Both parents are then bound by the approved custody order and the court must approve any modification of the plan. 

Should I Contact a Custody Lawyer?

Child custody disputes can be emotionally charged and require a detailed understanding of the law. If you have concerns about custody and parenting time, it is important that you speak with an experienced child custody lawyer. A lawyer will help advocate for you and your child and work to secure the best possible parenting arrangement for your family.