Going through a divorce is an emotional and stressful time in your life. When you and your spouse don’t agree on whether or how to end your marriage, you will have a “contested” divorce. This means that you will have to go to court many times and you may have to go through a trial. The process for a contested divorce can take a long time and will likely cost both you and your spouse a lot of money.
In contrast, in an "uncontested divorce," you and your spouse agree on all of the issues required to end your marriage, so the process is quicker, requires only one court appearance, and is usually much cheaper for both you and your spouse.
This article discusses what an uncontested divorce is and how to obtain one in Alaska. If you have further questions after reading this article, you should consult with an Alaska divorce lawyer. Even if you believe you and your spouse can manage an uncontested divorce, it is still a good idea to consult with an attorney because there may be legal consequences to the agreement you reach, including tax consequences, about which an attorney can advise you.
In Alaska, contested actions are called divorces and uncontested actions are called “dissolutions.” This means that if you and your spouse don’t agree on whether to end your marriage or how to divide your property and who should have custody of your children, you have to file for divorce. If you and your spouse agree that you should end your marriage and agree how to divide your property and about who should have custody of your children, you can file for “dissolution” of your marriage.
In order to be able to file for dissolution (uncontested divorce) in Alaska both you and your spouse must agree on the following things:
Furthermore, when you and your spouse have children together under the age of 18, you must agree on:
In addition, in order to be able to file your papers 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 stay living in Alaska for the foreseeable future. If you and your spouse have children under age 18 together, the children must have lived in Alaska for at least the last six months and currently live in Alaska.
Once you and your spouse agree on all of the issues required to obtain a dissolution of your marriage, you must fill out and file the appropriate papers in the clerk’s office of the Superior Court of the judicial district where you or your spouse lives. The forms are different depending on whether or not you have children under age 18 with your spouse and where you live. All of the required forms and instructions on how to fill them out are available online through theAlaska Courts’ website.
If you and your spouse have no minor children (under the age of 18) together, you can file “Dissolution Packet #2” (DR-2) or the “Uncontested Complaint for Divorce Without Children Packet” (SHC-PAC9B).
If you and your spouse do have children under the age of 18 together, you file “Dissolution Packet #1” (DR-1). However, if you live in Anchorage, you must file DR-1 ANC and if you live in Fairbanks, you must file DR-1 FBKS. Depending on where you file your papers, you and your spouse may be required to watch a video called “Listen to the Children” about the effects of divorce on children. If your court requires it, both you and your spouse will have to submit certificates of completion with your paperwork to prove that you viewed the video.
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). You will also have to include basic information about:
When you file your paperwork with the clerk, the clerk will schedule a “hearing date” at least 30 days after the day that you filed. The “hearing date” is the day that you will appear in front of a judge for the judge to consider your agreement and grant your dissolution.
At the hearing, a judge will make sure that both you and your spouse agree to everything in the paperwork and that the agreement is fair to both of you. If you or your spouse can’t appear at the hearing, you can ask to appear at the hearing by phone or ask to be excused completely from the hearing by filing an “Appearance and Waiver of Notice of Hearing” (Form DR-110).
If the judge thinks that your agreement is fair, he or she will sign a “Decree of Dissolution” granting your divorce.
For the full text of the law governing dissolution of marriage in Alaska, see Alaska Stat. § 25.24.200 through 25.24.260.