If a custody order is already in place, how can I get it changed?
Because custody is decided in the best interest of the child, an order is never permanent. If you have a custody order already in place, you can petition the court to make changes to it or modify it.
Custody or visitation can be changed if the court determines that there has been a change in circumstances that requires modifying (changing) the order and the modification (change) 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 Alaska Statute § 25.20.110(a)
2 Alaska Statute § 25.20.110(c)
3 Alaska Statute § 25.20.110(e)
4 Alaska Statute § 25.20.110(b)
5 See Alaska Statute § 25.30.320 & § 25.20.300