Anchorage Child Custody Lawyer
Protecting Your and Your Child’s Interests
With over 75 years of combined experience representing clients throughout Anchorage, Denali Law Group has the experience and knowledge to negotiate your child custody case. The events following a divorce can be tough to navigate, especially when you have many concerns on your mind to start fresh, like alimony and child support. Let a compassionate lawyer help you in your child custody settlements; contact Denali Law Group for more information.
Determining Child Custody
When parents separate or divorce, a judge will issue a custody order designating which parent has physical and legal custody, or if the parents will share custody of their children. Note that parents can share legal custody, which endows them with the decision-making power on their child’s behalf, even if only one parent is awarded sole physical custody (who the child resides with).
A custody order usually includes a parenting plan based on what arrangement is in the child’s best interests. One element of a parenting plan, the parenting schedule, will set out specific days and times for children to be with each parent, who will transport the children, where the transfer will happen, and who will pay for any travel necessary for visits. The custody order will also specify who has legal custody and can thus make any important health, education, and social issues regarding the children. A parenting plan will further specify the circumstances when the children can travel out-of-state and additional financial matters, such as which parent will claim children for tax purposes in which years.
Note that there are 2 ways a custody order can happen:
- based on both parents’ agreement in a settlement; or
- under a judge’s decision.
Keep in mind that a parent who moves out of state during an initial custody proceeding can still receive full physical custody. For example, in one Alaska case a mother received custody of her child even though she moved to Texas after the divorce because the judge deemed it would be in the child’s best interests.
The Child’s Best Interests
The court determines custody, or the parenting plan, according to what arrangement is in the child’s best interests, which is based on:
- the physical, emotional, mental, religious, and social needs of the child;
- the capability and desire of each parent to meet these needs;
- the child's preference if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to form a preference;
- the love and affection existing between the child and each parent;
- the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
- the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the cases;
- any evidence of domestic violence, child abuse, or child neglect in the proposed custodial household or a history of violence between the parents;
- evidence that substance abuse by either parent or other members of the household directly affects the emotional or physical well-being of the child;
- other factors that the court considers pertinent.
It is usually best if both parents can work together to reach an agreement about the parenting plan. As long as the agreement is in the child’s best interests, the judge will usually sign off on the agreement and avoid a trial. If the parents cannot reach an agreement, though, the matter will go to trial for the judge to make the final call.
Note that the parent who is awarded sole physical custody (the custodial parent) will have an advantage in a relocation proceeding. However, a noncustodial parent can object to the other parent’s move if it impacts visitation. For example, one parent’s move to a new neighborhood 15 minutes away won’t impact visitation, but a move 1,500 miles away will. One parent’s relocation constitutes a change in circumstances, which is necessary to modify custody. Be aware, though, that the nonmoving parent bears the burden of proving that a change in custody is in the child’s best interests.
Put an Experienced Lawyer on Your Side
If you are facing a custody battle following divorce or a change in circumstances, consult an attorney for legal support. Numerous factors affect the terms of a custody order, particularly as a judge considers how circumstances of custody may affect the child’s best interests.
For more information, speak with a lawyer at Denali Law Group today about your child custody case.