When a married couple decides to end their relationship, having to work their way through a divorce can be a difficult process. Individuals who have children together have an even harder time, especially when the stresses of dealing with a child custody battle are added into the mix. When it comes to making a child custody decision, Alaska family courts will always make a choice based on what they believe is in the best interests of the child or children – it is important for both parents involved in this process to have a deep understanding of parental rights and family law in the state of Alaska.
Child Custody Laws in Alaska
The laws surround child custody in the state of Alaska will always examine a number of factors to help determine what is in the best interest of the child or children. Recent studies have shown that having both parents involved in the child or children’s lives is very important for the mental and emotionally upbringing, so Alaska courts and courts across the country are always seeking to keep both parents involved in the child or children’s lives in some way, ideally through joint physical and legal custody.
What Determines Child Custody in Alaska
As mentioned, the Alaska court system will do its best to make a child custody decision that is in the best interest of the child or children who are involved in the divorce. Judges will take a look at a number of different factors to make this determination, taking into consideration the parent’s ability to care and provide for the children as well as their ability to communicate well between one another and, in some cases, what the child of children desires in terms of who they will live with after divorce.
Some of the factors that judges will take into consideration include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Both parents capability to provide an acceptable home for the child or children
- Both parents willingness to foster a positive relationship between the child or children and the other parent
- Both parents capability to provide food, clothing and shelter for the child or children
- Both parents willingness and aptitude when it comes to make important health, educational, and upbringing decisions regarding the child or children
Alaska family court judges, and family court judges across the country, will always do their best to make a decision regarding child custody that will most benefit the child or children involved. The child or children’s care and well-being is always has the highest importance, regardless of what either of the parents desire when it comes to the custody arrangement for them and their children. Making this decision is often very difficult for judges to make considering everything they must contemplate.
Types of Child Custody in Alaska
Keeping both parents involved in the child or children’s lives is always going to be the best decision for the child or children’s well-being. With this in mind, family court judges will always strive to be able to award joint custody to the parents, whether it is joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or both. When coming to this final decision, Alaska court judges will take a number of factors into consideration so they can clearly say that they exhausted all avenues to make the best possible decision for the child or children. Some of the considerations they will make include:
- Whether or not the parents were able to come up with a child custody agreement on their own
- How willing and able parents are to communicate clearly and respectfully in order to make important decisions about their child or children’s upbringing
- How close the parents are willing or able to live to one another to make transporting the children between home feasible
- Whether or not the each parent is willing to foster a positive relationship between the child or children and the other parent
- Whether or not either parent has any history of child abuse or spousal abuse that would be a cause for concern
Child Custody Modification in Alaska
While the initial child custody agreement may work for both parents, there may come a time when the agreement may need to change depending on one or both of the parent’s current circumstances. Some of the reasons that a parent may request a child custody modification include getting new job or having a new schedule, moving farther away or closer to the other parent, or if changes occur in the children’s school or extracurricular activities schedule that make it difficult to keep the current agreement.
When one parent wishes to modify the child custody agreement, he or she will need to submit a request for modification to the Alaska court system. When the family court judge reviews the request, he or she will take a number of factors into consideration in order to determine approval of the modification. Some of the things considered are:
- What circumstances prompted the modification to be requested
- Does the other parent oppose or agree to the modification
- Will the benefits of the modification outweigh the disturbances the change in schedule will cause for the child or children
The parent requesting the modification will carry the burden of proof in order to get it approved and the standards for making these kinds of changes are very high. Since many professionals and family court judges believe that stability and consistency are important in a child or children’s well-being, they do not like to approve all modifications since it can cause a lot of disruption in the children’s lives. This is why the modification’s benefits must outweigh the disturbances the change in schedule will cause.
Child Custody and Relocation in Alaska
One of the reasons why a parent may request a modification to the child custody agreement is they wish to locate to a new city or state with the children. When a relocation petition is brought to the Alaska court system, it will want to carefully review the circumstances surrounding the issue in order to make the best possible decision for the well-being of the children. Some of the areas they will look into and consider include:
- Whether or not the non-relocating parent agrees to or opposes the relocation
- The reason as to why the parent wants to relocate
- The ages, sexes, and needs of the children who will be relocated
- How the relation will affect the children’s well-being
- Whether or not the relocation will improve the children’s quality of life, either from an emotional, financial, or educational standpoint
Again, Alaska family court judges understand that disruptions to the child or children’s schedules, especially with something as big as a move, are not healthy for their stability and well-being. This is why judges think long and hard about approving relocation and take all the information they have available to them into consideration. It is important that the benefits of the relocation, such as the parent being more financially stable or the children getting a better education, outweigh the time they will likely lose with the other parent and the disruptions the move will cause to their overall schedule.