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Legal Information: Alaska


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Laws current as of August 9, 2023

How will a judge make a decision about custody?

The judge will look at many things to decide what is in the best interest of the child. If you are filing for custody, you should be prepared with as much information as possible about the other parent, the child, and yourself. Here are some things a judge will look at when determining what is in the “best interest” of the child:

  1. the physical, emotional, mental, religious, and social needs of the child and whether or not the parent has the desire and ability to meet those needs;
  2. what the child wants, if s/he is old enough and mature enough to give an opinion;
  3. the love and affection existing between the child and each parent;
  4. the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining that same situation;
  5. the desire and ability of each parent to allow a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent. Note: The judge cannot consider this if one parent shows that the other parent has sexually assaulted or committed domestic violence against the parent or child and that a continuing relationship with the abusive parent will endanger the health or safety of either the parent or the child;
  6. any evidence of domestic violence, child abuse, or child neglect in the house where the child would live or a history of violence between the parents;
  7. evidence that substance abuse by either parent or other members of the household directly affects the emotional or physical well-being of the child; and
  8. other factors that the judge thinks are important.1

There is a presumption (assumption) that a parent who has a history of committing domestic violence against the other parent, a child, or a domestic partner may not be awarded sole or joint legal custody or sole or joint physical custody. This presumption, however, can be rebutted (overcome).2

Also, the fact that an abused parent suffers from the effects of the abuse is not a reason to deny custody to the abused parent unless the judge finds that the effects of the domestic violence are so severe that the parent is unable to safely parent the child.3

1 AK ST § 25.24.150(c)
2 AK ST § 25.24.150(g)
3 AK ST § 25.24.150(h)