Unfortunately, divorce is a reality for many Alaskans. Most people enter a marriage never anticipating a divorce and yet half of marriages end in divorce. We have all heard the stories about the divorces that lasted two years and cost over $100,000. These stories are not representative of the average divorce case. However, they are not fiction. You are wise to be taking steps to explore the divorce process and options available to you other than a full scale lengthy and expensive legal battle.
In Alaska, there are two ways to end a marriage: dissolution and divorce. For now, I am going to limit this overview to divorce only.
Can I get divorced in Alaska?
You may file a complaint for divorce to end your marriage in Alaska if you are a resident of the state. You are considered a “resident” if you are physically here, and you intend to remain living here on the date you file the complaint. You can also file a complaint for divorce in Alaska even if you don’t live here, but your spouse is a resident.
Even if you can file for a divorce in Alaska, you must meet additional requirements for an Alaska court to have the power to divide the marital estate and decide the custody of your children.
1. For the court to divide the marital estate, you and your spouse must have must have lived in Alaska for at least six consecutive months within the six years before the date a complaint for divorce is filed.
2. For the court to have the jurisdiction to make decisions about your children, the children need to live in Alaska for at least the last six months before the date you file for divorce.
If you do not meet either of these requirements, the court can still enter a decree of divorce ending the marriage. But that is all the court do.
Jurisdiction in a divorce case can be complicated by factors such as being a member of the military or a civilian employee of the Defense Department.
What will happen in my divorce?
When a married couple (referred to as the “parties” in a divorce case”) gets a divorce, the following things happen:
The judge enters a final divorce decree, which terminates the status of marriage. Since Alaska is a no-fault state, the grounds for divorce are an incompatibility of temperament, which makes the continuation of the marriage impossible.
Assuming you and your spouse have lived here for more than six consecutive months in the last six years, and then the court can divide property. Incorporated into the final decree is the division of the parties’ property and liabilities by agreement or court order if there are points of contention.
If the parties have minor children, then the following things happen:
- The court must enter a custody order covering legal and physical custody. This order also becomes part of the final divorce decree.
- The court must enter a child support order. How the court calculates child support depends on whether the parties share physical custody or not. Parties share physical custody if one of them has more than 100 overnights per year.
Divorce can be a grueling and confusing time. If you want someone who is experienced with the process and who can help guide you through those tough conversations, please fill out a contact form or give me a call today and we can discuss your options.