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Legal Information: Alaska

Custody

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Laws current as of August 9, 2023

If a custody order is already in place, how can I get it changed?

Custody or visitation can be changed if the judge believes there has been a change in circumstances that requires changing (modifying) the order and the change (modification) is in the child’s best interests.1 A crime involving domestic violence is considered to be a “change in circumstances.”2 Also, a parent’s temporary duty, recruitment, or deployment to military service could be the reason to temporarily modify an order.3 To read more about situations involving military deployment, go to Can a parent modify a custody order because of military service?

When deciding whether to modify (change) the custody order, the judge should consider the history of the parents’ child support payments. However, the court may consider a parent’s failure to pay child support only if the parent had actual knowledge of the amount of the child support s/he was required to pay and had the money available for payment of support or the parent could have gotten the money through “reasonable efforts.”4

To change a custody order, you will usually need to go to the court that issued the order, even if you have moved. Alaska will generally keep jurisdiction (power) over a custody order that was made in an Alaska court unless neither of the parents and the child continue to live in Alaska or Alaska no longer has significant connections with evidence about the child. Under certain circumstances, Alaska may have the power to modify an out-of-state custody order if the state that issued the original order agrees to give power to Alaska and if other certain requirements are met.5 Since the requirements are complicated, to find out more about this (and all custody issues), we recommend you talk to a lawyer. Go to the AK Finding a Lawyer page to find a list of legal resources in Alaska.

1 AK ST § 25.20.110(a)
2 AK ST § 25.20.110(c)
3 AK ST § 25.20.110(e)
4 AK ST § 25.20.110(b)
5 See AK ST § 25.30.320 & § 25.20.300

Can I get child support?

If your children live with you, you may be able to get child support. The amount of child support ordered is based on the custody arrangement and the child support guidelines, which are found in a document called “Civil Rule 90.3”.  See the Alaska Courts website for more information about child support.

If there is a custody order in place, can I take my kids out of the state?

Whether or not you can take your child out of state may depend on what the custody order says. If a custody case is pending, but there is no order, generally the “standing order” in the case will prohibit either parent from removing the children from the state of Alaska without the permission of the other parent or a court order. If you have a custody order and you are not sure if it allows you to take your children out of state, it is a good idea to show the order to a lawyer and see what the lawyer’s advice is. To find a lawyer near you, go to our AK Finding a Lawyer page.

If the judge makes a custody and visitation order I don’t agree with, what can I do?

There are a couple of legal steps that can be taken immediately after the judge makes the order if your situation fits the circumstances explained below:

  • motion for reconsideration asks the judge to decide differently based on the law or new evidence.
  • An appeal moves the case to a higher court and asks that court to review the lower court’s decision due to a judge’s error.

There could also be an option that you may take in the future, but not immediately after the judge makes the order. A motion or petition to change (modify) the order is a legal request that could be filed if, later on, a “substantial change of circumstances” happens. A few examples of substantial changes of circumstances could be if the other parent gets sent to jail, gets charged with child abuse or neglect, moves to another state, or if your child’s needs significantly change.

Learn more about these options in our After a Decision is Issued section. To find out how the process works in your area and to get advice for your specific situation, contact a local lawyer. Go to our AK Finding a Lawyer page for legal referrals.​