The process for filling out divorce paperwork in Alaska depends on whether you and your spouse agree. In cases where there is no dispute regarding property division, spousal support and child custody and support, Alaska courts refer to the matter as "uncontested." In uncontested cases, much of the time-consuming aspects of divorce can be avoided. If there are areas of dispute, the matter is deemed contested and your case must proceed under the formalities of a traditional divorce action. Understanding how agreement affects the paperwork you need to file will help you avoid delays in the Alaska divorce process.
If you wish to file for divorce in Alaska, you must have some connection with the state. This is known as the residency requirement, which generally requires the filing spouse to live in the state. However, if the filing spouse does not live in the state, an exception exists allowing that spouse to file if the non-filing spouse is a resident and the parties were married out of state. Unlike other states, Alaska does not have a set period of time for establishing residency. Instead, you must simply be present in the state and possess an intent to continue living in Alaska.
If you and your spouse are in complete agreement, you may fill out a joint petition for dissolution of marriage together and then file it along with an information sheet and waiver of notice form with the Superior Court. All of these forms can be obtained through the court's website. The petition asks the court to grant you a divorce under the no-fault ground of incompatibility, which you believe caused the breakdown of your marriage. You and your spouse must provide basic information about each other and the marriage in the petition, and fully disclose your property, debts and incomes. You must also indicate how assets and debts will be divided between you and your spouse after the marriage ends and specify a spousal support amount, if any. If you have minor children, you must furnish additional information and provide a detailed custody arrangement and schedule, as well as a separate child support calculation form.
Petition for Divorce
If you and your spouse cannot agree, you will need to file a complaint for divorce. The divorce complaint requests similar information as the petition for dissolution, but instead of outlining the agreements reached by you and your spouse, you will only include your position on the divorce issues and note any specific request regarding property, spousal support and child-related matters. You must also specify a ground for divorce, which can be either based on the no-fault ground of incompatibility or one of the fault grounds recognized in Alaska, such as adultery, extreme cruelty or the commission of a felony. Once this document is filed, your spouse will need to be provided notice and an opportunity to respond. This is known as service of process and must be accomplished by a professional process server or by certified mail. Once served, your spouse has 20 days to respond in writing. After he either responds or fails to respond, known as default, the divorce can move forward.
Although divorce paperwork starts the process, you will not be considered divorced until ordered by the court after a hearing, which cannot occur sooner than 30 days after filing in Alaska. If your case is uncontested, the hearing is typically the next and final step. At the hearing, a judge will review your agreements to make sure they are complete and not unfair to you or your spouse. If there are minor children, the court will need to make sure that your custody arrangement promotes the best interests of the child and that the child support calculations are correct. If your case is contested, the process will depend greatly on the degree of disagreement and complexity of the issues. For example, either party can request temporary orders while the divorce is pending regarding property, custody and support, which can slow the process. Further, if marital fault is alleged, there are pretrial matters, such as securing evidence and witness testimony, and required briefs must be submitted, this can create further delays in obtaining a final hearing and judgment.