There are generally two types of divorce available in most states: contested and uncontested. A divorce is "contested" when the spouses don't agree on some or all aspects of the divorce, meaning that a judge will hold a trial, examine the evidence, and call witnesses. The contested divorce process takes quite a while.
In contrast, in an uncontested divorce (also called a "dissolution of marriage" in Alaska), the spouses agree on all of the issues required to end their marriage, so there's no need for the judge to hold a trial. An uncontested divorce is much faster and cheaper than traditional divorce—spouses can often use a DIY solution like an online divorce service. They do, though, also have the option of getting professional help.
In Alaska, when spouses have decided to divorce and agree on how to proceed, they can jointly file for a "dissolution of marriage." The spouses must file together unless the filing spouse cannot find the other despite making reasonable efforts to do so.
Both spouses must agree on all major issues to proceed with an uncontested divorce. These issues include alimony, child custody, child support, and division of property and debt.
Because there's no need for a trial or multiple court appearances, the most significant benefit of an uncontested divorce is that it is significantly less expensive than a contested divorce. Uncontested divorces are also quicker.
You don't need to hire a lawyer to get an uncontested divorce in Alaska, and you can represent yourself during the process. You can try to handle everything yourself or use an online service that eases the process. Also, even though there's no court battle in an uncontested divorce, one or both spouses can hire attorneys to help them through the process. You might want to talk to a lawyer, for instance, if your case feels complex or you have unanswered questions.
If you choose to work with one, an attorney can give you advice on your proposed settlement, make sure you complete the paperwork correctly, and see that you file your paperwork on time. (Keep in mind that there's another kind of professional—a mediator—who can help spouses reach agreements and prepare the paperwork that finalizes the divorce.)
To get an uncontested divorce in Alaska, either you or your spouse has to be a resident of Alaska. Being a resident of Alaska means that you currently live in Alaska and intend to remain in Alaska for the foreseeable future. You and your spouse also must agree on the following:
(Alaska Stat. § 25.24.200 (2021).)
Additionally, when you and your spouse have children together under the age of 19 you must agree on:
(Alaska Stat. § 25.24.200(a)(2) (2021).)
The required forms and fees for an uncontested divorce in Alaska vary from county to county. Forms are available on the Alaska Court System's self-help website and at every superior court. (Alaska Stat. § 25.24.250 (2021).) For more information about Alaska's dissolution procedures, you can also visit AlaskaLawHelp.org.
To begin your uncontested divorce in Alaska, you will need to file a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. There are two versions of the petition—which one you should fill out depends on whether you have children under age 19 with your spouse.
If you and your spouse have no minor children (under the age of 19) together, you can file "Dissolution Packet #2" (DR-2) (Dissolution of Marriage Forms for Spouses Filing Together When There Are No Minor Children).
If you and your spouse do have children under the age of 19 together, you file "Dissolution Packet #1" (DR-1). Alaska law requires parents to complete a parent education requirement—you can usually satisfy this requirement by viewing an approved video or completing an online class (check here for information about your court's education requirement).
All of the packets require you to fill out a petition (form) that explains what you're seeking (an end to your marriage) and why (the reason you no longer want to be married). The petition will include basic information about:
(See Alaska Stat. § 25.24.210 for a full list of information that must be included in the petition.)
The fee for filing an Alaska uncontested divorce petition is $250. If you are unable to pay this fee, you can request a fee waiver by filing out the form Exemption From the Payment of Fees, TF-920. Typically, you file the TF-920 with your petition at the beginning of your case. The court will not act on your petition until the judge rules on whether you will be exempt from having to pay court fees; some courts require you to return to the court to pick up the summons (the document that lets your spouse know that the dissolution case has begun), so ask the clerk at your local court what the procedure is.
When you file your dissolution petition, the clerk will schedule a hearing date—the date that you will appear in front of a judge to consider your case—at least 30 days after the day that you filed. Both spouses must attend the hearing. You and your spouse can each bring a lawyer to the hearing, but you're not required to have one.
At the hearing, a judge will make sure that both you and your spouse understand and agree to everything in the paperwork and that the agreement is fair to both of you. The judge might make amendments to the agreement, but only if you and your spouse both agree.
If the court thinks that your agreement is fair, the judge will issue a Decree of Dissolution granting your divorce. Sometimes you'll receive the decree at the hearing, but most of the time it's not entered (made official) until a few days after the hearing.
It's up to you to carry out any agreements you made in your petition or ordered in the decree. For example, you might have agreed that your spouse would receive the family home as part of the dissolution. If that's the case, you'll need to follow through with all the necessary steps (such as transferring title to the property) to ensure that you're following your agreement.