This is a complete guide to divorce in Alaska.
In this guide, we’ll address your burning questions – including some you didn’t even think to ask.
So if you want to make sure you have a lay of the land (and avoid the pitfalls), we’ve got you covered.
Let’s get started.
- What Are Grounds for Divorce in Alaska?
- Legal Separation vs. a Divorce
- Annulment vs. a Divorce
- What are your Options for Getting a Divorce in Alaska?
- What is the Process of Getting a Divorce in Alaska?
- Can I File for Divorce Without an Attorney?
- Can I File for Divorce Online?
- Can I Mail Divorce Papers?
- Refusing or Contesting a Divorce
- How Long Does a Divorce Take in Alaska?
- Is there a Waiting Period?
- Expediting Your Divorce
- What is the Cost of a Divorce in Alaska?
- Contested vs Uncontested Divorces
- Fault-based vs No-fault Divorce
- Divorce Decree vs Proof of Divorce
- Can I Reverse a Divorce in Alaska?
- Bifurcated Divorce
- How Does Adultery Affect Divorce in Alaska?
- Changing Your Name
- Bonus: Recommended Resources for a Better Divorce
What Are Grounds for Divorce in Alaska?
Alaska allows for a no-fault divorce, meaning that you only need to tell the court that there is “an incompatibility of temperament.” Essentially, you are telling the court that there is no hope for you and your spouse to continue living together in harmony as a married couple. No other reason needs to be stated.
Alaska also allows fault-based reasons as well. You can also seek a divorce based on one or more specific grounds because it may give you an advantage in things such as child custody, spousal support or a division of assets.
The fault-based grounds in Alaska include:
- failure to consummate the marriage at the time of the marriage and continuing at the time of the divorce filing
- either spouse is convicted of a felony
- desertion of the marriage for at least 12 months
- cruel and inhuman treatment that impairs a spouse’s health or endangers a life
- either spouse has an incurable mental illness and lives in a mental institution for at least 18 months
- habitual gross drunkenness since the marriage and continued for one year after the marriage began
- either spouse’s addiction to drugs during the marriage
Legal Separation vs. Divorce
Legal separation is an alternative to divorce in Alaska.
You remain married but you both want to live separate and apart from each other due to a breakdown in your marriage.
Legal separation is executed through the courts and means that a couple must still resolve the same legal issues as in divorce, including alimony, child support and custody, a division of assets, and other related matters.
Couples may choose this route because their religion prohibits or frowns upon divorce. At other times, legal separation may be a way to let a spouse keep health insurance and can provide tax benefits that only married couples can enjoy.
If either spouse decides to get a divorce instead, they are free to file a case seeking that outcome.
Read More: Legal Separation vs. Divorce: Pros and Cons
Annulment vs. Divorce
Alaska does not provide for annulments. However, under some circumstances, a marriage can be declared void. This is the equivalent as if the marriage never happened. A marriage can be voided in Alaska if:
- One party is already married to someone else
- The parties are more closely related than third cousins
- One party is a minor, and the parents did not consent
- One party was coerced or forced into consenting to the marriage
- Either party did not have the capacity to consent to the marriage
- Failure to have sexual relations
If you attempt to have your marriage voided, your spouse can disagree and present evidence to the court to dispute your request.
If your request to have a marriage voided is denied, you can still seek a divorce.
What are your Options for Getting a Divorce in Alaska?
You have several options when seeking to end your marriage in Alaska. Your process will often be driven by your personal circumstances, and the amount of conflict you have with your spouse.
This is known as an uncontested divorce and is referred to as a dissolution in Alaska. If you and your spouse can agree on all the issues in advance, you can both file paperwork with the court stating this fact, and you will usually be granted a divorce in a short amount of time, with the least amount of emotional stress, and the lowest possible costs. You may be able to go through the entire process appearing only briefly in court to answer a few questions.
This is similar to a DIY divorce, except that you rely a lot more on pre-printed forms and online services or attorneys to help you complete the required paperwork. The automated approach can save a lot of money, but you need to be careful about making costly mistakes if you go this route.
You meet with a neutral third party who helps you work through the areas of disagreement you have, such as property division, child custody and visitation, and related issues. When you strike an agreement, you draw up a proposal and submit it to the court for approval. This is a quicker, cheaper, and less contentious route for many couples than going through a full-blown trial.
This is an option for couples who still have a fair amount of cooperation and trust between them. Any disagreements are resolved respectfully and amicably using attorneys who are specially trained in collaborative law. That is less costly than other forms of divorce and leaves decisions with the couple, and not a judge. If collaboration fails, you can move forward with other types of divorce, but you will need to retain a different attorney if you do.
Litigation is a traditional approach to divorce. You and your attorneys engage with your spouse and their attorneys in an attempt to negotiate a settlement before going to trial. About 95% of all litigated divorces end this way. If you can reach an agreement through a negotiated settlement or arbitration instead of a trial, then you can save some time and aggravation.
When two people have tried other ways of settling their marital affairs, and there is a high degree of conflicts and outstanding issues, a trial often results. These can be long, drawn-out, and expensive with a judge who will make rulings based on applicable state law. You may also not like the rulings that are decided by a judge, and you’ll have little recourse in most cases to modify the results.
What is the Process of Getting a Divorce in Alaska?
After you gather your information, you’ll need to decide which kind of divorce process you will go through. Generally, the more cooperation with your spouse, the quicker and cheaper the process will be.
Paperwork must be filed with the court. And then you must legally notify your spouse of your intention to divorce them by completing proof of service which entails having them served with a copy of the divorce complaint. A spouse has 20 days to respond to the complaint.
At this point, if you and your spouse agree on all issues before going to court, you can go through an uncontested divorce which will require only a brief hearing in front of a judge who will review the details of your proposed settlement with each other. If the judge approves, your divorce will immediately become final.
This last option can take well over a year and is the most expensive option. The other thing is that a judge will make the final decisions related to your marriage, taking away that control from you and your spouse.
Can I File for Divorce Without an Attorney?
Yes. If you and your spouse agree on all issues, you can both file paperwork on your own with the court and a dissolution of your marriage will be granted.
Even if you disagree on some issues, you’re not required to retain an attorney. But it might be a good idea to do so to protect your rights as your case moves forward.
Can I File for Divorce Online?
You can start the process online in Alaska by working with a firm that will help you complete initial paperwork or with an attorney who can assist you via email.
Our favorite resource for a fast and effective online divorce is: 3 Step Divorce.
3 Step Divorce checks all the boxes that make an online divorce worthwhile.
They aim to make it easy – and they certainly deliver.
From step-by-step instructions to unlimited live support, here are just a few of the reasons why 3 Step is our #1 recommended online divorce resource:
- $299 flat-fee with no hidden charges
- Monthly payment options as low as $84/mo
- Initial questionnaire takes less than 1 hour
- Library of free tools and resources
- Unlimited access to support agents by phone or email
- Immediate access to completed forms
- Assurance of 100% court-approval (or your money back!)
You can learn more by reading our 3StepDivorce review.
Better yet, you can Start Your 3 Step Divorce NOW (as low as $84/month).
Can I Mail Divorce Papers?
After you file with the court, one of the ways to complete proof of service of your original complaint to your spouse is by certified mail, restricted delivery, return receipt requested.
All other materials in your case can either be hand-delivered or sent by first-class mail.
Refusing or Contesting a Divorce
If your spouse wants to divorce you, you can’t stop them. But you can contest the terms of the divorce if you want.
Contested divorces in Alaska take longer and are more expensive and you may be forced to go this route to protect your interests in a contentious case.
How Long Does a Divorce Take in Alaska?
The type of divorce you go through has a direct impact on how long your divorce will take in Alaska.
For a simple dissolution as part of an uncontested divorce, the entire process can be completed in as little as 30 to 90 days, depending on the court’s backlog of cases and availability of a judge to review your filed documents.
If you have unresolved issues or want to go through a fault-based divorce, the process can take much longer. Divorces that include mediation, negotiations, or eventually lead to a trial in front of a judge can take many months, or even extend out a year or more.
Much of how long a divorce takes depends of the level of cooperation and trust between you and your spouse. If you are both committed to wrapping up your divorce quickly, you’ll save a lot of time, money, and aggravation in the process.
Is There a Waiting Period?
There is no waiting period after you file for divorce, other than you must give your spouse 20 days to respond after serving them with paperwork.
How quickly your divorce takes place is a function of how quickly a hearing can be scheduled in a dissolution case. This may take 30 to 60 days depending on the court’s backlog of other cases.
A contested divorce will take much longer to finalize, depending on the issues that must be resolved.
Expediting Your Divorce
The best way to speed your divorce in Alaska is to cooperate with your spouse. When you can agree on all issues in advance, your divorce will be over relatively quick, and with the least amount of financial and emotional pain.
If you do disagree on issues, you can still expedite your case by being attentive to requests from the other side, and making sure you attend all hearings as requested by the court.
In general, it’s best to remind yourself that the more confrontational you are, the longer your divorce is going to take.
What is the Cost of a Divorce in Alaska?
Filing fees for a dissolution or a divorce in Alaska are $250.
If you can’t afford to pay the filing fee, you may be eligible for a fee waiver. To ask the judge to waive your fees, you submit an Exemption From the Payment of Fees. This will be filed with your complaint when you open your case.
The court will hold on to your complaint until after the judge rules on the waiver. If it is granted, the clerk will fill out the bottom half of your summons.
You cannot serve the other party until after you get the completed summons, and you will not get a completed summons until after the TF-920 has been ruled on.
Contested vs Uncontested Divorce
A contested divorce means that you and your spouse do not agree on all the issues related to ending your marriage.
You will either have to negotiate out the contested issues or appear in front of a judge who will decide the issues for you during a trial.
An uncontested divorce means you are in agreement with your spouse on all issues. You will both file paperwork with the court acknowledging that fact, and your marriage will be dissolved after a short hearing in front of a judge.
No-fault vs Fault-based Divorce
Alaska provides for no-fault divorces which means that you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences and there is no chance to get back together.
A fault-based divorce means that you want a divorce based on specific grounds allowable under Alaska law. This is a higher burden of proof but some people choose this route to gain an advantage when negotiating a settlement agreement.
Divorce Decree vs. Proof of Divorce
A Divorce Decree is an Alaskan court’s final order granting you a divorce. It contains detailed instructions regarding your legal obligations for all issues. Once a decree has been approved and signed by a judge, you are officially divorced and free to marry again, if you so choose.
A Proof of Divorce, also referred to as a Divorce Certificate in Alaska, contains much less information. It only provides minimal information stating that two people had divorced, when and where the divorce took place. A proof of divorce certificate is often required when a person wants to get remarried.
Can I Reverse a Divorce in Alaska?
If you are the petitioner in a divorce, and you want to stop a divorce in progress, you can file a motion to dismiss your case before a final settlement has been rendered by the court. A defendant cannot file this type of motion.
Once a divorce has been finalized, it can’t be reversed
A bifurcated divorce takes place when a marriage is terminated by the courts even though there are still unresolved issues to be decided. This can include custody, support, alimony and property division disagreements that will be decided at some point in the future.
Sometimes, a spouse will drag out a divorce as a form of emotional blackmail, or a bifurcation may be requested for tax purposes. Also, a bifurcated divorce may be sought when an automatic stay is put on the divorce proceedings due to a bankruptcy action.
Some states do not allow bifurcated divorces but Alaska (Alaska Statutes Sec. 25.24.155b) has specific laws regarding the bifurcation of a divorce.
Judges are reluctant to grant bifurcated divorces because it leads to judicial inefficiencies and removes some of the impetus to finalize all issues remaining to be settled.
How Does Adultery Affect Divorce in Alaska?
Adultery is one of the fault-based reasons that can be stated when seeking a divorce in Alaska.
Though it is more difficult to prove, some people choose this option as a way to negotiate better terms for spousal support or a division of assets.
Read More: What are the Types of Affairs?
Changing Your Name
You will be presented either an option to restore your former name or request a court order for changing names when preparing your divorce forms.
The name change will be granted as part of your divorce. You may either receive a separate court order making your name change official, or else have your name change recorded on the final divorce decree. Either of these documents are accepted with all US agencies and organizations as evidence of your name change.
Just because you have a court order does not mean your name change has taken effect. You need to contact all your organizations to request your records are updated.
It’s time-consuming to contact each company and figure out what to send where, so we recommend using an Easy Name Change kit to cut out the 10+ hours of research and paperwork that follows.
Recommended Divorce Resources
There are a lot of divorce resources that make big claims. We’ve tested a bunch of them. Most fall short. A few stand above the rest.
These are the tools and resources we’re excited to share with you because we know they can help you have a better divorce.
If you’re looking for recommendations in any of the following areas, we’ve got you covered:
- Online divorce
- QDRO preparation to divide retirement plans and pensions
- Masterclass on ninja tricks to negotiating with a narcissist
- Co-parenting apps
- Personal finance and budgeting apps
- Best place to sell your engagement ring
- And a whole lot more
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