Below you will find basic information about divorce in Alaska.
back to topWhat are the residency requirements for divorce in Alaska?
To file for divorce in Alaska either you or your spouse must be a resident of Alaska.* Unlike many other states, the law does not set out a specific time period of residency before you can file. In Alaska, courts have interpreted residency as being physically present/domiciled in the state with the intent to remain in the state indefinitely and to make a home in the state.** If you are uncertain if you would be considered a “resident,” we suggest talking to an attorney who specializes in divorce in Alaska prior to filing. See our AK Finding a Lawyer page for legal referrals.
* Alaska Statute §§ 25.24.080; 25.24.090
** See Alaska Statute § 01.10.055(a); see also Perito v. Perito, 756 P.2d 895 (Supr. Ct 1988), citing Adams v. Adams, 522 P.2d 1125 (Supr. Ct 1974)
back to topWhat are the grounds for divorce in Alaska?
Grounds are legally acceptable reasons for a divorce. The judge can grant you a divorce for any of these reasons:
- Your spouse failed to “consummate the marriage” (have sexual relations) at the beginning of the marriage that continues up until you file for divorce;
- Adultery (your spouse cheats on you);
- Your spouse is convicted of a felony;
- Your spouse deserts you for a period of at least one year;
- Your spouse:
- Engages in cruel and inhuman treatment meant to harm your health or endanger your life;
- Personally humiliates you to the point that it makes life burdensome; or
- Has a temperament that is incompatible with yours;
- Your spouse is habitually drunk and the drunkenness began after you were married and continued for 1 year before filing for divorce;
- Institutionalization for mental illness for a period of at least 18 months before filing for divorce;
- Your spouse is addicted to the habitual use of opium, morphine, cocaine, or a similar drug and the addiction started after you were married.*
* Alaska Statute § 25.24.050
Alimony is financial support paid by, or to, your spouse.
If you or your spouse request alimony, the judge will consider certain factors to determine a fair alimony award. These factors include, but are not limited to the:
- length of the marriage;
- standard of living that was established during the marriage;
- age and health of you and your spouse;
- earning capacity of you and your spouse, including educational background, training, employment skills, work experiences, length of absence from the job market, and custodial responsibilities for children during the marriage;
- financial situation of you and your spouse, including the availability and the cost of health insurance;
- conduct of you and your spouse, including whether there has been unreasonable spending or destruction of marital assets;
- division of property; and
- other factors the judge decides are relevant to your case.*
* Alaska Statute § 25.24.160(a)(2)
back to topWhat are the basic steps for filing for divorce?
While divorce laws vary by state, here are the basic steps that a person may have to follow to obtain a divorce:
- First, you or your spouse must meet the residency requirements of the state you want to file in.
- Second, you must have “grounds” (a legally acceptable reason) to end your marriage.
- Third, you must file the appropriate divorce papers and have copies sent to your spouse - for the exact rules for serving the papers, contact your local courthouse or an attorney.
- Fourth, if your spouse disagrees with anything in the divorce papers, then s/he will have the opportunity to file papers telling her/his side. In his/her response, the other party may express his/her opinion challenging the divorce, asking that it be granted under different grounds or letting the judge know that s/he agrees to the divorce. If your spouse contests the divorce, then you may have a series of court appearances to sort the issues out. Also, if a certain period of time passes and your spouse does not sign the papers or file any papers of his/her own, you may be able to proceed with the divorce as an uncontested divorce anyway. (Speak to a lawyer in your state about how long you have to wait to see if your spouse answers before you can continue with the divorce.)
- Fifth, if there are property, assets, a pension, debts, or anything else that you need divided, or if you need financial support from your spouse, then these issues may have to be dealt with during the divorce or else you may lose your chance to deal with these issues. The issues may be worked out during settlement negotiations and incorporated into the divorce decree or in a series of court hearings during the divorce. Custody and child support may also be decided as part of your divorce.
back to topWhere can I find additional information about divorce laws in Alaska?
The Alaska Court System website has the following resources:
AlaskaLawHelp.org provides some answers to questions about the differences between divorce, dissolution, and annulment.
Alaska Family Law Self-help has informational videos on various topics including how to behave in court, child support, division of marital property, spousal support, and many others.
The Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault's 2015 Edition of the Women's Legal Rights Handbook contains information on divorce, including grounds for divorce.
WomensLaw.org is unrelated to the above organizations and cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information provide on their sites.
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