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Legal Statutes: Alaska

UPDATED September 14, 2017

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CHAPTER 24. DIVORCE AND DISSOLUTION OF MARRIAGE

back to topSec. 25.24.220. Hearing

(a) After a petition for dissolution is filed under the provisions of AS 25.24.210, a hearing shall be scheduled in accordance with the Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure.

(b) Except as provided in (i) of this section, if the petition is filed by both spouses under AS 25.24.200(a), both spouses shall attend the hearing personally and not through counsel. However, if the petition is not subject to (i) of this section, a spouse who complies with AS 25.24.200(c) is not required to attend the hearing. Either spouse may have counsel at the hearing.

(c) If the petition is filed by one spouse under AS 25.24.200(b), that spouse shall submit proof of diligent inquiry as to the whereabouts of the absent spouse and provide notice by publication, posting, or other means as ordered by the court under the Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure.

(d) If the petition is filed by both spouses under AS 25.24.200(a), the court shall examine the petitioners or petitioner present and consider whether

(1) the spouses fully understand the nature and consequences of their action;

(2) the written agreements between the spouses concerning child custody, child support, and visitation are just as between the spouses and in the best interests of the children of the marriage; in determining whether the parents' agreement on visitation is in the best interests of the children under this paragraph, the court shall also consider whether the agreement should include visitation by grandparents and other persons;

(3) the written agreements between the spouses relating to the division of property, including retirement benefits, spousal maintenance, and the allocation of obligations are just; the spousal maintenance and division of property must fairly allocate the economic effect of dissolution and take into consideration the factors listed in AS 25.24.160(a)(2) and (4);

(4) the written agreements constitute the entire agreement between the parties;

(5) the conditions in AS 25.24.200(a) have been met; and

(6) the written agreements between the spouses concerning ownership or joint ownership of an animal take into consideration the well-being of the animal.

(e) If the petition is filed by one spouse under AS 25.24.200(b), the court shall examine the petitioner and consider whether the petitioner fully understands the nature and consequences of the action and whether the conditions in AS 25.24.200(b)have been met.

(f) The court may appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the best interests of the child. Appointment of a guardian ad litem or attorney for the child shall be made under the terms of AS 25.24.310.

(g) The court may amend the written agreements between the spouses relating to child custody, child support, visitation, division of the property, including retirement benefits, spousal maintenance, ownership or joint ownership of an animal, taking into consideration the well-being of the animal, and allocation of obligations, but only if both petitioners concur in the amendment in writing or on the record.

(h) In its examination of a petitioner under (d) of this section, the court shall use a heightened level of scrutiny of agreements if

(1) one party is represented by counsel and the other is not;

(2) there is evidence that a party committed a crime involving domestic violence during the marriage or if any of the following has been issued or filed during the marriage by or regarding either spouse as defendant, participant, or respondent:

(A) a criminal charge of a crime involving domestic violence;

(B) a protective order under AS 18.66.100-18.66.180;

(C) injunctive relief under former AS 25.35.010 or 25.35.020; or

(D) a protective order issued in another jurisdiction and recognized in this state under AS 18.66.140;

(3) there is a minor child of the marriage; or

(4) there is a patently inequitable division of the marital estate.

(i) If the court finds that a higher level of scrutiny is required by (h) of this section, the court shall examine the written agreements between the spouses to determine that they are just, that they constitute the entire agreement between the parties, and that the agreements concerning child custody, child support, and visitation are in the best interest of the children of the marriage, if any. The court shall require the presence of both spouses at a hearing for this purpose unless the court finds on the record that it would constitute a significant hardship on one of the spouses to appear and that a just agreement has been reached. If one of the spouses cannot attend the hearing because it would constitute a significant hardship, the court may require that spouse to be available by telephone to answer questions, at that spouse's expense.

SLA 1976, ch. 260, § 1; SLA 1990, ch. 130, §§ 12--17; SLA 1995, ch. 30, § 3; SLA 1996, ch. 64, § 49. Amended by SLA 2016, ch. 60, §§ 23, 24, eff. Jan. 17, 2017; SLA 2017, ch. 13, § 22, eff. Sept. 17, 2017