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Understanding your options for ending an Alaska marriage

Some marriages, for whatever reason, just don't work out. Sometimes, hard work and diligence aren't enough, and a couple will decide that it is best to go their separate ways. Once that decision has been made, however, there are many more decisions that will follow. First and foremost is how the couple would like to separate.

Legal separation

In certain situations, it might be best for a couple to stay legally married. For example, a couple might not see divorce as an option if their faith prohibits the practice. A spouse who can't afford to lose the medical insurance coverage provided by the other spouse's employer would also need a non-divorce option. In these cases, a legal separation is likely the best course of action.

Legal separation agreements can accomplish anything that a divorce decree can, handling property division (asset and debt allocation), child custody and child support. Alimony (sometimes called "spousal support" or "spousal maintenance") can even be awarded following a separation provided the couple has agreed upon terms for those payments and included them in the separation agreement.

Dissolution

If both spouses have agreed upon the important issues typically facing divorcing couples, including property settlement, debt division, custody, child support, living arrangements, parenting time (also referred to as "visitation") and alimony, it might be possible for them to "fast track" their divorce. This is done through Alaska's dissolution process. Couples seeking dissolution typically don't lay the fault for the split upon either party, instead just saying that there is an "incompatibility of temperament" that has caused the marriage to break down to the point that it cannot be repaired.

There are benefits to seeking dissolution in lieu of a divorce. Since the couple has agreed upon the important issues, the process is much faster than a contested divorce, and can be done is as little as 30 days. This provides much-needed closure and allows the couple to get on with their lives. There can also be a significant cost savings if the couple doesn't need to pay for protracted litigation.

Divorce

Alaska is one of the few states that still allows some sort of "fault" to legally end a marriage. Reasons for divorce found in Section 25.24.050 of the Alaska Statutes (aside from just having an irremediable breakdown of the marriage) include adultery, desertion, drunkenness, violence, conviction for a felony-level crime and more. A spouse filing for divorce on the basis of one of these factors must provide proof to the court; that is why the majority of divorce filings are of the no-fault variety.

Issues of fault aside, one seeking a divorce must meet residency requirements, exactingly fill out numerous court documents, pay filing fees and attend hearings. Making even a minor mistake could slow the process to a crawl, so it is of vital importance that no errors are made.

Doing it right the first time

To reach a timely, fair and equitable divorce settlement that is in your best interests - and in the best interests of your children - it is of vital importance that no detail is missed, and no stone is left unturned. The problem is that most people are so unfamiliar with the court system that they find it difficult to navigate. This can result in unnecessary delays, increased filing costs and a settlement based upon incomplete information. To increase your chances of a fair divorce settlement that is done right the first time, seek the assistance of an Alaska divorce attorney.

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The Law Offices of Herbert M. Pearce

The Law Offices of Herbert M. Pearce
731 I Street Suite 203
Anchorage, AK 99501

Local: 907-276-0113
Toll-Free: 800-579-4214
Fax: 907-258-1232
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