Child custody and support determinations in Alaska
Legally determining custody and support for children in Alaska is an important process designed to ensure children are adequately cared for. The following article outlines some of the basic provisions of that process.
Custody and child support are issues that are a part of every divorce in Alaska where children are involved. As a part of the divorce process, the judge will issue a custody determination order.
When parents have not been married, one parent can begin a custody case by filing a custody complaint.
The parent the child lives with primarily is the custodial parent, while the other parent is the noncustodial parent. Sometimes, an order naming one parent as the custodial parent will need to be changed for a variety of reasons, including: the child’s own preference has changed, a change of residence, or because a parent has remarried.
Whenever a custody issue is raised for the courts, the judge will want to have certain information from both parents. A few of the things the judge will consider are where the child has been living and whether there is any other ongoing court case concerning the child, such as a tribal custody case.
Child support and modification
Generally, it is the noncustodial parent who pays child support. When the parents share custody, both of the parents’ income is taken into account in deciding the amount of payment. If the parents do not share custody, but the custodial parent has a great deal of income, that factor will be taken into consideration when determining the amount the noncustodial parent has to pay.
Either the state’s Child Support Services Department or the court will issue an order for child support. After the initial support order, the agency automatically reviews the parents’ income every year.
Parents can ask for a modification of the support order. Both parents are notified when there is a request for modification, and they must submit all income documents and any other relevant information within 30 days. CSSD calculates what the child support payment should be according to the data they receive.
If CSSD issued the original order, and the new payment amount would be more than 15 percent different from the existing order, CSSD can change the payment order. If the order came from a court, CSSD sends the request on to the Office of the State Attorney General, which assigns the case to a judge. It can take up to six months for a modification to go through.
It can be very helpful for a parent to have a seasoned Alaska family law attorney to represent him or her and to file paperwork for child support and custody determinations. An attorney will make sure all that the necessary filing is completed accurately and can be an advocate on a parent’s behalf in the court system.