Divorcing Alaskan parents must go to court to have custody decided. It’s important to understand the state’s child custody laws.
What factors are considered when determining child custody?
As is the case in many other states when it comes to determining child custody, an Alaska family court judge can take the child’s preference into consideration, depending upon the child’s maturity. Of course, the best interest of the child is a major factor as well just like in all other states. The following factors are considered:
- The child’s physical, emotional, social and religious needs
- The child’s relationship with either parent
- Both parents’ ability to meet the needs of the child
- The child’s current home environment
- The parents’ willingness to encourage a close relationship between the child and the other parent
- Any history of domestic violence or sexual assault from either parent
- How other people living in either parent’s home affect the child
- History of alcohol or drug abuse of anyone living in either parent’s home
- The child’s preference as long as they are of age to voice an opinion
- Additional factors the court deems relevant
The court strongly considers all of these matters but doesn’t view any as more pressing than any others. The one exception is if a parent has a history of domestic violence or sexual abuse against the child or the other parent. In that situation, the court would likely determine that the child is better off if the non-violent parent gets custody.
When does the court consider the child’s preference?
There is no specific age when the child’s preference is considered in child custody matters. Judges make the determination on their own.
Usually, the child’s preference is taken more seriously when they are older. For example, a child in their teens is seen as better able to formulate a rational decision compared to a younger child who might be more easily influenced by a parent.