If you’re unfamiliar with the divorce process and custody proceedings in Alaska, you may be surprised to learn that there are ways to settle custody disputes without having to go to trial.
If you’re going through a divorce in Alaska and have at least one child, there are a few things about child custody that you should be aware of. For starters, Alaska has two main types of custody: physical custody and legal custody. Courts will look at each individual situation before deciding which type of custody arrangement to dole out. If you’re new to divorce and all its legalities, a family law attorney who has experience with divorce and custody matters can help.
Legal vs. Physical Custody
Before distinguishing the differences between the two types of custody, it is important to note that both types of custody, at least in Alaska, assume that each parent has equal access to their children. Legal custody refers to the parent’s right to make decisions on behalf of their children, including medical, legal, religious, and educational decisions. From a legal standpoint, it is often preferred that custody involve both parents if the situation allows. This means that both parents must be able to communicate effectively and cooperate with one another.
Physical custody refers to the actual physical care of the children. The court will usually decide how many nights the children stay with their mother, and how many they will spend with their father. In Alaska, physical custody is broken down into three types, including shared physical custody, primary physical custody, and hybrid physical custody. What criteria does a court look at when deciding a custody arrangement? It’s simple. In Alaska, custody decisions are often based on what the court deems to be the best interests of the children. In making its decision, a court will look at the following:
- The overall needs of the children, including emotional, mental, physical, social, and religious
- The desire and ability for each parent to adequately provide those needs
- The preference of the children, depending on their ages
- The level of affection between each parent and their children
- The stability and safe environment each parent can offer
- Evidence of child abuse, neglect, substance abuse, or domestic violence that could negatively impact the physical and emotional health of the children
Out-of-Court Custody Agreements
If you’re unfamiliar with the divorce process and custody proceedings in Alaska, you may be surprised to learn that there are ways to settle custody disputes without having to go to trial. This is called alternative dispute resolution and is available all over the state, from Anchorage to Juneau and beyond. This relies on a variety of resources to help parents negotiate, mediate and settle custody disputes. In addition to the court system, parents going through a divorce can seek out private organizations to help them through the process. Once an agreement is made, the court will issue a decree of custody that will detail out what the permanent custody arrangement will look like.
Fortunately, there are many resources available to people going through a divorce and who need assistance with child custody matters. Courts and private organizations are two of those resources, but perhaps the most important is having a trusted attorney who has experience helping people with such matters. If you’re going through a divorce, contact an experienced Alaska family attorney today.