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Legal Information: Alaska

Statutes: Alaska

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August 8, 2023

Sec. 25.20.095. Custody and visitation proceedings involving a military parent

(a) In determining the availability of a parent for custody or visitation, if a parent is deployed or in a position where the parent may be deployed, the court shall take particular care to ensure that the child has the maximum opportunity, consistent with the best interests of the child, to have contact with the parent. Except as provided in this section, a parent’s temporary duty, mobilization, or deployment to military service and the resultant temporary disruption to the child of the parent may not be a factor in a court’s decision to grant or deny a petition for custody or visitation.

(b) A parent who is deployed may petition a court of competent jurisdiction for custody or visitation. The petition shall be construed to be an application for affirmative relief, consistent with the protections afforded under 50 U.S.C. App. 501–596 (Servicemembers Civil Relief Act) and may include a request to delegate the deployed parent’s visitation rights to a family member.

(c) A court shall order a delegation of visitation rights based on a petition filed under (b) of this section if the court finds that

(1) the family member receiving the delegation has an existing close relationship to the child; and

(2) the delegation is in the child’s best interest.

(d) A hearing on a petition filed under this section shall be expedited by the court on a motion filed by the deployed parent.

(e) A parent who is deployed may not be found to have waived any rights or protections with regard to custody or visitation of the deployed parent’s child unless the deployed parent expressly waives the right or protection in writing or on the record.

(f) A court order entered under this section must require that

(1) the nondeployed parent make the child reasonably available for visitation to the deployed parent when the deployed parent is on leave if the visits are in the child’s best interest;

(2) each parent facilitate contact, including telephonic and electronic contact, between the other parent and the child if the contact is in the child’s best interest; electronic contact with a video image must be facilitated whenever feasible;

(3) the deployed parent provide timely information to the nondeployed parent regarding the deployed parent’s leave schedule; and

(4) each parent provide immediate notification of a change of address or contact information as provided under AS 25.20.110(e)(5).

(g) In making a determination of the best interests of the child, the court shall consider the factors under AS 25.24.150(c) and apply the rebuttable presumption under AS 25.24.150(g) to visitation, delegation, and custody orders issued under this section. In addition, there is a rebuttable presumption that a deployed parent’s visitation rights may not be delegated to a family member who has a history of perpetrating domestic violence against a spouse, a child, or a domestic living partner, or to a family member with an individual in the family member’s household who has a history of perpetrating domestic violence against a spouse, a child, or a domestic living partner.

(h) In this section,

(1) “deployment” or “deployed” means military services performed in compliance with a valid order received by an active duty or reserve member of the armed services of the United States, National Guard, or United States Coast Guard to report for combat operations, contingency operations, peacekeeping operations, temporary duty, a remote tour of duty, or other active service for which the deploying parent reports unaccompanied by any family member;

(2) “family member” means a person who is an adult sibling, aunt, uncle, first cousin, or grandparent related by blood, adoption, or marriage or a stepparent to the child who is the subject of a custody order issued under this section;

(3) “military service” includes the period from which the deployed parent receives and is subject to deployment orders and the period in which the parent is awaiting travel or remains deployed because of sickness, wounds, leave, or other lawful cause;

(4) “parent” includes a legal guardian of the child.