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Know the Laws: Alaska

UPDATED September 14, 2017

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Please consider getting help from an organization in your area before proceeding with court action. To find an organization, please go to Where to Find Help.

General information and definitions

back to topWhat is custody?

Custody is the physical care and supervision of a child under 18.

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back to topWhat is joint custody?

Joint legal custody is when both parents have equal rights and responsibilities for major decisions concerning the child, including the education of the child, health care, and religious training. The court may also give one parent the ability to make certain decisions on her own ("sole power") while both parents have equal rights and responsibilities for other decisions.

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back to topWhat is joint physical custody?

Joint physical custody is when both parents share the physical care and supervision of the child so that the child can spend frequent and quality time with both parents. This does not necessarily mean that the parents see the child for equal amounts of time. Joint physical custody in Alaska is when neither parent has the child for more than 70% of the child's time during a one year period.

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back to topShould I start a court case to ask for supervised visits?

If you are not comfortable with the abuser being alone with your child, you might be thinking about asking the judge to order that visits with your child be supervised. If you are already in court because the abuser filed for visitation or custody, you may not have much to lose by asking that the visits be supervised if you can present a valid reason for your request (although this may depend on your situation).

However, if there is no current court case, please get legal advice BEFORE you start a court case to ask for supervised visits. We strongly recommend that you talk to an attorney who specializes in custody matters to find out what you would have to prove to get the visits supervised and how long supervised visits would last, based on the facts of your case.

In the majority of cases, supervised visits are only a temporary measure. Although the exact visitation order will vary by state, county, or judge, the judge might order a professional to observe the other parent on a certain amount of visits or the visits might be supervised by a relative for a certain amount of time -- and if there are no obvious problems, the visits may likely become unsupervised. Oftentimes, at the end of a case, the other parent ends up with more frequent and/ or longer visits than s/he had before you went into court or even some form of custody.

In some cases, to protect your child from immediate danger by the abuser, starting a case to ask for custody and supervised visits is appropriate. To find out what may be best in your situation, please go to AK Finding a Lawyer to seek out legal advice.

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WomensLaw.org would like to thank the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault for its assistance with this section, especially Christine Pate, Pro Bono Project Director, and Andrea Browning, former Legal Advocacy Project Coordinator.

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