This is about filing your own divorce in Alaska, including how hard it is to file your own divorce in Alaska, what divorce papers need to be filed, and what the filing fees are for divorce in Alaska.
- How hard is it to file my own divorce?
- What are the papers that need to be filed?
- What’s the filing fee for a divorce?
Filing for divorce without experienced counsel can be difficult. There are many forms required, and court clerks are prohibited from providing legal advice. The following is a list of resources which are available in Alaska to assist those in need of services.
A. Lawyer Referral
Alaska Bar Association Lawyer Referral (907) 272-0352, and 1(800) 770-9999 510 L Street, Suite 602, Anchorage Alaska 99501
B. Free Legal Services
If you can not afford an attorney, the following organizations are set up to provide legal services to individuals who qualify in certain types of cases:
- Alaska Legal Services (907) 276-6282 1016 W. 6th Ave. Suite 200, Anchorage Alaska 99501
- Alaska Pro Bono Program (907) 272-9431 1016 W. 6th Ave. Suite 200, Anchorage, Alaska 99501
C. Obtaining Forms and Filing Legal Documents
These matters occur in the Superior courts, which are located throughout Alaska. Mailing addresses of these locations are:
1st Judicial District
- 415 Main St., Ketchikan Alaska 99901
- 304 Lake Street, Sitka Alaska 99835
- Box 114100 Juneau Alaska 99811-4100
2nd Judicial District
- Box 2700, Barrow Alaska 99723
- Box 317, Kotzebue Alaska 99752
- Box 1110, Nome Alaska 99762
3rd Judicial District
- 825 W. 4th Street, Anchorage Alaska 99501
- 125 Trading Bay Drive, Kenai Alaska 99611
- 202 Marine Way, Kodiak Alaska 99615
- 435 S. Denali Street., Palmer Alaska 99645
4th Judicial District
- 604 Barnette Street, Fairbanks Alaska 99701
- Box 130, Bethel Alaska 99559
D. Custody Investigator’s Offices
- Anchorage: 303 K Street, Room 275, Anchorage AK 99501
- Fairbanks: 604 Barnette St. Room 209, Fairbanks AK 99701
E. Other Services
- The Department of Family and Youth Services (DFYS) Child Abuse/Adoption (907) 276-1450
- The Child Support Enforcement Division (800) 478-3300
- Aid to Dependent Children (907) 269-6599
- The Women’s Resource Center (907) 276-0528
- Alaska Family Support Group (907) 563-1973
- Alaska Family Child Care Association (907) 258-5436
- Anchorage Adoptive Parent Association (907) 248-4506
- Adoption Information Hotline (907) 277-9941
- Abused Women’ Aid in Crisis (907) 272-0100
- Anchorage Center for Families (907) 276-4994
- Beginning Experience (divorced/separated) (907) 344-4325
- Crisis Pregnancy Center (907) 561-0805
- Family Planning Clinic (907) 343-4623
- Healthy Mother Healthy Baby Program (907) 343-4700
- Maternal Child Health Program (907) 343-4677
- No Empty Nest (raising grandchildren) (907) 344-2966
- Noncustodial Family Support Group (907) 272-2469
- P.A.R.E.N.T.S. Inc. (disabled children) (907) 563-2246
- Parents Without Partners (907) 566-0714
- SAFE City Program (907) 343-6589
- Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Prevention (907) 343-6302
- STAR Rape Crisis (800) 478-8999
- Victims of Custody (907) 746-2863
- Well Child Clinic (907) 343-4800
- Women Infants & Children Nutrition Program (WIC) (907)343-4668
1. The Complaint
If you file for dissolution, there are standard forms which both parties fill out and sign before a notary. The forms contain all that is required for the court to resolve the marriage. However, if you file for a divorce or for a custody order, there are few forms that can assist you, and there are no forms for some of the essential documents which must be filed.
For example, all divorces begin with the filing of a Complaint for Divorce. The party who files the Complaint, called the Plaintiff, sets forth the issues that he or she wants the court to address at a trial. Sample Complaint forms have not been approved by the State, and must be created individually to conform to your specific situation. Once a party files the Complaint, the other party, called the Defendant, must file an Answer to the Complaint. Again, no forms exist for filing the Answer: you must create an Answer that specifically addresses the statements made in the Complaint.
2. The Pretrial and Trial Orders
Once a Complaint for Divorce or Custody is filed, the court will then issue what is called a Domestic Relations Pretrial Order, called Form DR-600 in Anchorage, which assigns a judge to the case and sets forth a number of rules and requirements which will effect each aspect of the case.
To simplify and streamline the process of divorce and dissolution in this state, the court in Anchorage has recently changed these requirements.
The new rules limit the appointment of custody investigators, which in the past have often been routinely ordered to perform investigations in cases involving the issue of custody. The large volume of files previously assigned to the custody investigator’s office have exhausted its limited resources and greatly slowed down the investigation process. In the future, parents will have to demonstrate to the court before any appointment is made that a custody investigator is necessary and that they can not afford to hire a private custody investigator.
Perhaps the most sweeping change in the new rules is the court’s effort to streamline the divorce process in a newly created Trial Setting Order specifically designed for use in domestic cases. The order is modeled after procedures which have been used in Fairbanks, and it will require that information is automatically disclosed by the parties to one another prior to trial. Court ordered disclosure is an attempt to avoid the stalling and ambush tactics often used by lawyers to either hide information or overwhelm the other party with numerous documents at the last minute so that it is impossible to adequately prepare for trial. Once a divorce or case is filed, a Pretrial Order is immediately issued preventing the parties from taking children outside of the state without consent, and from unilaterally disposing of marital assets. The new rule extends the order to prevent parents from canceling or changing the terms of any insurance policies without permission. In a further effort to streamline the divorce process, the new order sets page limits for legal pleadings and affidavits, to prevent long winded attorneys from overwhelming the court with unnecessary information, and imposes time limits for hearings and other limitations on the types of evidence that can be presented.
Along with the bark of the new order is a bite, for it provides that an attorney or party who fails to comply with it or to otherwise follow the civil rules may be subjected to sanctions, including costs or attorney fees.
The new changes will benefit Alaskans involved in divorce and custody disputes in Anchorage. Domestic disputes often drag on endlessly at great expense to parties who often do not have the funds to fuel a bitter battle over property and custody issues. The new requirements regarding limitations to evidence and accurate documentation supporting each party’s requests will make domestic law attorneys more accountable, and, hopefully, result court orders which are issued more quickly, based upon sufficient evidence properly presented to the court.
3. Other Essential Forms
If a case involves custody or visitation, each party is required to file a Child Custody Jurisdiction Affidavit, called Form DR-150, which shows a court where the children have lived in the past, so that the court can determine that it has jurisdiction, which means the power to make a ruling, over the children. Usually, children must live in Alaska for at least the past six months prior to the filing of a complaint for divorce or custody in order for a court to have the ability to determine or change custody or visitation.
Also, a Child Support Guidelines Affidavit, form DR-305 must be filed if a case involves child support, along with proof of income, in the form of pay stubs and prior tax returns.
If a custody investigator is appointed, or if the finances of the parties is an issue in the case, a Financial Declaration, form DR-250 must be filed. This form contains information about a party’s income, expenses, and their assets and obligations and must be filed under oath.
A Domestic Relations Pretrial Memorandum must also be filed, form DR-605, and a civil rule 90.1 Property and Debt division worksheet in a divorce case, prior to trial, so that the court can understand the issues involved.
Each case is different, and many motions may need to be filed in addition to the forms listed above, so that the court can make rulings about support, custody, and other matters affecting the rights of the parties and their children.
Once a case is over, a court will issue an order resolving all of the claims of the parties. In a divorce, the court will issue Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, a Decree of Divorce, and, if there are children, a Child Custody and Support Order, form DR-300. A Certificate of Divorce must also be filed.
THE ALASKA COURT SYSTEM’S NEW MODEL PARENTING AGREEMENT
The Alaska court has released a new 24 page Parenting Agreement designed by a Fairbanks Superior Court Judge to assist parents, judges and lawyers in resolving issues concerning their children. Favorably, the form is detailed and covers many important custody related issues. It is much more thorough than the 1/2 page “Visitation Agreement” section of Petition for Dissolution of Marriage With Children form which contains the paragraph “We do not want to state specific visitation times here. We agree that we will be able to amicably decide in the future on reasonable visitation times.” This sentence alone has probably caused more litigation than any other in the document.
The new parenting form is written in understandable language and could be completed by parents to be reviewed by counsel if desired. Completion of the form by a client before a consultation could save time and attorney’s fees, and allow the client to think about the issues prior to the meeting. The form provides parties with alternative answers to custody questions, which can be chosen by checking off a box. The format of the document addresses issues with parents living in the same and different communities, and has separate provisions for younger and older children. Numerous issues are addressed, including school year and summer schedules, holidays, transportation, vacations, decision making, child care, taxes and Permanent Fund Dividends.
The model parenting agreement is a good start and a much needed addition to the set of family law materials provided by the court system in Alaska. However, apparently the form was not distributed in advance to all members of the family law section for input before finalization. The form should be reviewed by practitioners and revised once input from the legal community is received. The Parenting Agreement form can be used for initial custody determinations or modifications to existing custody orders.
The filing fee for a divorce is $100.00.