Alaska Family Law: An Overview
Alaska’s family laws cover a wide selection of topics from marriage to divorce and beyond. They protect the rights of every family member, young and old. They also provide guidance for difficult matters like child custody, visitation and domestic violence.
If you have a family law case in Anchorage, Juneau, Fairbanks or elsewhere in Alaska, LawInfo is your source for information and legal help. LawInfo’s Alaska Family Law section includes legal overviews, summaries of state laws and other resources to help you make the right decisions for you and your family.
If you need help navigating the complex laws governing your case, an Alaska family law attorney can help and treat your case with the sensitivity it deserves.
Alaska Marriage Licenses
A marriage cannot be legalized in Alaska without first obtaining a marriage license. The license serves to legally prove the validity of a union under Alaska law. If you perform a marriage ceremony without first obtaining a marriage license, the union is considered void which can exclude you from tax breaks or other marriage benefits.
Both residents and nonresidents age 18 years or older may apply for an Alaska marriage license. Parties under 18 years of age must first attain written consent from a parent or guardian before applying for a license. Parties under 16 years of age must also attain a court order for eligibility.
Once you’ve submitted your application, you must wait three business days before picking up your license and performing the marriage ceremony. Once the license is issued, you can use it anywhere within the state before it expires in three months’ time. After it expires, you’ll have to reapply for a license before performing the ceremony.
Community Property in Alaska
Upon divorce, property is separated between both spouses. In some states, property is divided evenly in a 50/50 split because all marital property is considered to be community property. In other states, the court determines a fair (but not always equal) distribution after considering a list of statutory factors, such as each spouse’s needs, abilities and condition.
Alaska is unique in that it allows for both community property and equitable distribution methods. A couple may elect to create a community property agreement or trust before or during their marriage. This way, they can evenly split marital property ownership while still negotiating what can be determined as “separate” (individual) property, which they each keep.
If no community property agreement or trust is made or if there is a dispute about who should get what, a divorce court can decide how to distribute property based on how long the marriage lasted, the age and health of each spouse, their earning capacity, etc.
Alaska Domestic Violence Protections
A spouse in an abusive marriage often feels powerless against their abuser or feels an obligation to doing nothing about the abuse to protect their marriage. You shouldn’t need to endure domestic violence under any perceived threat to your marriage. Alaska’s laws provide certain protections for victims of domestic violence.
The police can offer protection for both adults and children affected by domestic violence, including an emergency protection order, medical treatment and relocation assistance to a safe place. You can also file for a protection order from the court that will prohibit your abuser from coming near you and your children and require them to seek intervention and compensate you for losses and support.