Alaska provides two methods for legally ending a marriage. If the couple agree on all the issues related to ending the marriage, they may file for a dissolution together. If the couple does not agree, one spouse can file for a divorce. Both methods result in a parenting plan, a child support order, division of marital property, and the termination of the marriage.  

What is the Difference Between Divorce and Separation in Alaska?

A legal separation agreement tends to function a lot like a divorce but it does not end the marriage. Like  a divorce, a separation agreement can be used to resolve issues such as dividing property, child custody, child support, and alimony.  If accepted by the judge, a separation agreement is legally binding and can be enforced in court.  Generally, a judge will accept a separation agreement if it is agreed to in writing by both spouses and the agreement appears to be fair.

What Paperwork Do You Need to File for Divorce?

To start the process for a divorce, a Complaint for Divorce must be filed by one of the spouses (or both spouses in the case of a dissolution) in a proper Alaska local court.  Divorce and dissolution packets can be found on the Alaska Courts website.

Community Property vs. Separate Property

Alaska is an “Equitable Distribution” state, which means that all marital property is divided fairly according to the court unless the spouses make their own agreement.  Marital property, also known as community property, consists of most of the assets and debts that a couple acquires during the marriage and is subject to division during the divorce.

Separate property, is the property that a spouse owned before the marriage or received during the marriage as a gift or inheritance. This distinction is important because separate property is usually not subject to division in divorce. It is important to know that separate property can become community property through actions like placing your spouse on the title of the property.

What Should You Do if There are Children Involved?

As part of the divorce the judge will issue a child custody order and parenting plan that will detail the parental rights and obligations over the marital children. Since child custody disputes can have complicated legal issues and are extremely stressful for both parents and children, it is in your best interest to talk to a lawyer to help the process.  

Regardless of who retains custody after a divorce or separation, both parents are responsible for supporting the children of the marriage. At the very minimum, the court will order the non-custodial parent to make child support payments. 

Do You Need to Pay Spousal Support?

When the judge orders a divorce, it is possible that he will order one of the spouses to make temporary spousal support payments or alimony payments. A judge may impose spousal support if he finds that it is fair based on a number of factors including the length of the marriage, the income of the individual spouses, who has custody of the children, etc. But in general, spousal support payments last a maximum of 1-4 years.

Where Can You Find the Right Divorce Lawyer?

Going through a divorce can be an emotionally charged experience and involves complicated legal issues related to property division, child custody, child support, spousal support, etc.  If you are looking for an attorney to aid you navigate this process, then contact a local Alaska divorce lawyer today to get the help you need.