Today, many families are faced with all types of domestic issues that require the advice and counsel of an experienced attorney. Located in Anchorage, family law attorney Peggy Roston serves clients in Fairbanks, on the Kenai, in the Mat-Su Valley and throughout the state of Alaska.
Peggy’s practice is focused on a wide range of family law matters including divorce, child custody and child support, spousal support, and military divorce. She also has extensive experienced preparing prenuptial agreements and Qualified Domestic Relations Orders.
Alaska is a no-fault state, which means that the valid grounds for divorce are an incompatibility of temperament, making it impossible for the couple to continue the marriage. Peggy provides clients with ongoing support throughout the divorce process. Over her many years of practice, she has helped numerous clients resolve their issues through negotiated settlements. At the same time, when a settlement cannot be reached, Peggy has successfully represented clients in contested divorce hearings.
Generally, there are two types of custody: “legal custody” and “physical custody.” Legal custody refers to each parents’ right to make legal decisions for their children on important issues such as religion, education, and nonemergency medical care. Physical custody refers to the amount of time each child spends with a parent.
When a child spends less than 110 overnights with a parent, then that parent is the non-custodial parent and the other parent is the custodial parent. If a child spends more than 110 overnights with a parent, then the parties have shared physical custody of that child. In some cases, where the parties have two or more children, there can be a different custodial arrangement for some of the children.
For more than 26 years, Peggy has been representing clients who are involved in contested custody cases, including divorce cases, custody cases between unmarried parents, or grandparents seeking visitation rights. She is a vigorous advocate in representing clients involved in contested custody cases.
In Alaska, child support is calculated according to one of the formulas found in Civil Rule 90.3. If a parent has less than 110 overnights then that parent’s child support obligation will be calculation under Civil Rule 90.3(a) which considers a percentage of that parent’s adjusted or net income. If a parent has more than 110 overnights, child support is calculated under Civil Rule 90.3(b), which considers each parent’s adjusted or net income and the percentage of time each parent spends with the children. Finally, if the children have different schedules, then the court may apply the hybrid formula found in Civil Rule 90.3(c).
Net income for child support is determined by subtracting federal income taxes, social security and medicare taxes, retirement contributions, and court-ordered child support payments from prior relationships from gross wages, interest and dividends.
Although judges rarely award permanent support, temporary or interim support may be awarded if there is a significant difference in the earning capacity of each spouse. After the divorce is final, the court may award post-divorce reorientation or rehabilitation spousal support, although this occurs only in a minority of cases.
Alaska is home to a number of military bases representing the Air Force, Army and Coast Guard. The challenges of military life can weigh heavily on a marriage, particularly where one spouse has been deployed to a combat zone. Peggy has represented both service members and spouses in divorce cases. She has extensive experience with helping these clients understand the unique laws which apply to military divorces, as well as Alaska’s marital and domestic relations laws.
A prenuptial agreement, or premarital agreement, is a contract entered into by a couple prior to marriage that specifies each future spouses property ownership and clarifies the property rights of each if they decide to divorce. A prenuptial agreement can also specify how the parties intend to manage joint bank accounts, household bills, and credit card payments during the marriage. Finally, a prenuptial agreement can outline the parties’ intent in what property is subject to division in the event of a divorce. In short, a prenuptial agreement allows the parties to avoid divorce litigation by establishing a framework for handling disputes in the event of a divorce.
Qualified Domestic Relations Order
For many married couples, one of the largest assets is a retirement plan. Although a spouse has a right to a share of the earned benefits in a retirement plan, these rights may be forfeited if a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is not entered by the court incident to a divorce. A QDRO is a specific type of court order which divides the marital portion of a pension or tax deferred retirement account.
In particular, a QDRO awards a party a portion of the other party’s retirement benefits that were earned through his or her participation in a private employer-sponsored retirement plan. QDROs are applicable to private retirement plans subject to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). In Alaska, state and teacher retirement benefits are also divided by QDRO’s. Federal and military retirement benefits are also subject to division in a divorce, but the orders dividing these benefits are not called QDRO’s.
Experienced Anchorage Family Law Attorney
With over 26 years of experience as a family law attorney, Peggy Roston has helped clients find practical solutions to their most pressing problems and regain control over their lives. Although she strives to resolve disputes through negotiated settlements, she is fully prepared to litigate any matter in court. If you are faced with a challenge and wish to restore order to your family, please call Peggy today to set up a free consultation.