Child Custody Laws in Alaska

mother holding child

Though this state is rather far from the rest of the country in terms of location, Alaska child custody laws are not all that different from those of other states. While this may be the case, it is important that you educate yourself on the laws specific to Alaska before you create your custody arrangement. The more informed and prepared you are at the onset, the less likely it is that you will be caught off-guard during your potential custody hearing. 

Alaska child custody laws put the best interests of the child at the forefront. 

The outcome of an Alaskan custody agreement will define several things including the parenting plan, visitation schedule, and the legal and physical rights of the parents (or guardians) to the children. In determining this outcome, Alaskan courts will focus on the child's best interests as the guide in making this decision. Also, Alaskan courts will favor granting joint custody as long as it fits in with the child's best interests. Several factors involved with the child's best interests are examined while determining custody, including many dealing with the child's safety such as whether there is a history of physical abuse by one parent against the other or towards the child. Other factors include each parent's willingness to cooperate and make decisions together, and the physical proximity of their homes in considering joint physical custody.

When determining if joint custody is a good fit for a family, both legal and physical custody are considered. Legal custody refers to a parent's right to make decisions in regards to important elements of the child's life including education and health care. Physical custody refers to a parent's right to be responsible for the child's daily care. In Alaska, joint physical custody calls for parents having equal, or close-to-equal, time with a child. This means that in a joint physical custody agreement, neither parent would have the child for more than 70% of the time over the course of a year. 

Child support in Alaska

Whether or not parents were married, both are legally obligated to financially support their child. Alaskan courts follow certain guidelines for determining child support paid between parents, and one of the most important factors in determining the amount is a parent's total income from all sources. This would include a job salary, commissions, bonuses, social security, veterans benefits, and more. The court will also want to determine a parent's net income after subtracting deductions from your total income. The court will also want to know the custody arrangement, as the amount of time that a parent spends with a child will affect the amount of child support needed to be paid. For instance, the amount of child support paid to a parent with primary custody is likely to be greater than the amount of child support paid to a parent with shared custody who spends significant, if not equal, time with their child.

This information is not meant to be taken as legal advice. For legal guidance and more information about Alaska child custody laws, please consult an attorney or family law professional. Check out our Alaska resources page to find family law resources in your area. 


NOTE: Many state and federal laws use terms like ‘custody’ when referring to arrangements regarding parenting time and decision-making for a child. While this has been the case for many years, these are not the only terms currently used to refer to these topics.

Today, many family law practitioners and even laws within certain states use terms such as ‘parenting arrangements’ or ‘parenting responsibility,’ among others, when referring to matters surrounding legal and physical child custody. You will find these terms as well as custody used on the OurFamilyWizard website.