Child Custody – The Basics

A father and a daughter holding hands

When people who are married or living together have children, their religion, family traditions, personal parenting philosophies, and other factors guide them in making decisions about how to raise their children.

But when parents divorce or end their relationship, they become subject to Alaska’s child custody laws. Child custody includes both legal custody and physical custody.

Legal Custody in Alaska

Legal custody is the authority to make decisions on non-emergency medical care, religion, education, and emancipation. Parents can have joint legal custody, or one parent can have sole legal custody.

Physical Custody in Alaska

Physical custody involves the amount of time the children will spend with each parent. Parents can share physical custody of the children. Alternatively, one parent can have primary physical custody. If that’s the case, the other parent is referred to as the non-custodial parent. The non-custodial parent may have visitation with the children.

Each parent has an independent relationship with the children and is entitled to enjoy that relationship without interference by the other parent.

Generally, this means that even the non-custodial parent is in charge of the day-to-day routine and activities in the home when the children are spending time with that parent.

Negotiating Child Custody with Your Ex

If you are facing the challenges of divorce or ending a relationship, you can attempt to negotiate child custody with the other parent.

If the two of you together cannot agree on child custody, then the only alternative is to let a superior court judge decide child custody for you.

No matter which road you choose to take, you may want to consider:

  • The importance of having both of you involved in your kids’ lives
  • The importance of shielding your children from conflict between you
  • The importance of creating a healthy post-divorce environment that allows children to focus on their emotional and developmental needs

Learning More About Custody in Alaska

It’s usually a good idea to talk to an Alaskan attorney who can explain the factors a judge must consider when deciding contested child custody cases. Your lawyer will also be able to advise you if you have concerns about substance abuse, domestic violence or mental health issues.

Posted in: Divorce