Anchorage Divorce Lawyer
Put 75+ Years of Combined Experience to Use
Divorce cases involve a number of important elements up for negotiation, such as spousal support and child custody. Whether you seek to file for divorce or have been served divorce papers, it is best to have an attorney on your side to help you navigate the legal course of divorce. With over 75 years of combined legal experience, Denali Law Group has the knowledge and experience to take on your case.
Grounds for Divorce
A divorce is a court order that legally ends a marriage. There are eight statutory grounds for divorce in Alaska, most of which require a finding of fault on the part of one of the spouses, though incompatibility of temperament is considered no-fault and is used most often.
Nevertheless, a divorce may be granted for any of the following grounds:
- Failure to consummate the marriage at the time of the marriage and continuing at the commencement of the action
- Conviction of a felony
- Willful desertion for 1 year
- Either cruel and inhuman treatment calculated to impair health or endanger life; personal indignities rendering life burdensome; or incompatibility of temperament
- Habitual gross drunkenness contracted since marriage, and continuing for 1 year prior to the commencement of the action
- Incurable mental illness when the spouse has been confined to an institution for at least 18 months immediately preceding the commencement of the action
- Addiction of either party, after getting married, to the habitual use of opium, morphine, cocaine, or a similar drug
Filing for Divorce
An action for divorce should be filed with the local Superior Court. The filing spouse (the plaintiff) must serve the non-filing spouse (the defendant) with copies of everything that has been filed, as well as the summons and standing order.
The defendant has 20 days from the date they were served to respond to the Complaint for Divorce. If the defendant files an answer, the case will move forward as a contested case and be set for trial. If the defendant does not respond, the plaintiff may request the court to default the other side and grant everything they asked for. Keep in mind that the plaintiff must file a Default Application and include proof that they served the defendant according to the rules, which could include the green return receipt from the post office signed by the defendant or a return of service from the process server who served them.
Either the plaintiff or the local court will schedule a default hearing, where the judge will review the complaint and all the other documents to verify that a default can be entered. If the defendant does not appear, the judge will consider only the plaintiff’s complaint when issuing a judgement. Be aware that it generally takes at least 30 days after filing for divorce before the judge will grant the final divorce decree.
Spousal support, or alimony, refers to the money that one spouse must pay the other to level the financial picture after a divorce. Either spouse can request spousal support, though the court will only award support if the requesting spouse can demonstrate a need for financial assistance, and the other spouse is able to pay. Visit our page on alimony in Alaska to learn more about these specific categories of spousal support.
Be aware that the judge will consider the following factors when calculating the amount of spousal support:
- the length of the marriage (short-term marriages are less likely to see spousal support awards);
- each spouses’ age and health;
- both spouses’ ability to earn, including their educational backgrounds, training, employment skills, work experiences, length of absence from the job market, and custodial responsibilities for children during the marriage;
- the financial situation of each spouse, including availability and cost of health insurance;
- the conduct of the parties, such as whether either spouse unreasonably depleted marital assets;
- marital property division awards in the divorce; and
- any other factor the court determines to be relevant.
There is no formula to determine spousal support, though, and the judge has broad discretion when deciding the final award.
In addition to spousal support, child custody will be another significant concern following divorce. A judge will issue a custody order designating which parent has physical and legal custody of their child, or if the parents will share custody of their children.
A custody order usually includes a parenting plan based on 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 on their parenting plan without the interference of the court, but if they cannot reach a settlement on their own the matter will go to trial for the judge to make the final call.
Filing for Divorce? Let Denali Law Group Help.
If you have any legal concerns about a divorce settlement you are involved in, consult an experienced attorney for legal support immediately. Divorce involves many important matters impacting both your present and your future, such as alimony and child custody, so it is advisable to have a skilled lawyer by your side as you negotiate with your former spouse or in the courtroom.
Schedule a case consultation with Denali Law Group for legal support in your Anchorage divorce case.