Alaska Custody and Visitation Schedules

How do I make my custody and visitation schedule in Alaska?

You can create your own custody and visitation schedule (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own schedule, you can use the Custody X Change software.

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What should I include in my Alaska custody and visitation schedule?

Generally, an Alaska custody schedule has the following sections:

  • A residential or every day schedule that shows when the child will be with each parent on a regular basis
  • A holiday schedule that shows where the child is for holidays and special occasions
  • A vacation schedule that shows the school break schedule and when the child can go on vacation with each parent
  • Parenting provisions that support the schedule and make it clear how the parents will implement the schedule

Alaska doesn't have any specific requirements for provisions or parts of the schedule, so the above section can be made to fit your unique circumstances. Basically, it works best if you come up with a schedule that shows where the child will be every day of the year.

You can also add extra provisions or specifications about the schedule to make it work.

Many parents find it helpful to decide how they will arrange transportation and other exchange information, to come up with a process for how they will make changes to the schedule, and to come up with a process for resolving disputes.

What if we can't reach an agreement on our Alaska custody schedule?

If you cannot agree, the judge will make a schedule for you.

The standard and traditional visitation schedule often provided by the State of Alaska is for one parent to have the child the majority of the time and the other to have the child every other weekend, alternating holidays, and 4-6 weeks in the summer.

From the court's perspective, both parents are equally entitled to their child. There is no guarantee as to which parent would receive most time in the "standard" visitation schedule, as the court rules at its own discretion and does not exhibit bias toward one parent or the other. The court bases decisions on the best interest of the child.

What does the judge consider to be "the best interest of the child"?

Alaska Statute 25.24.150 lists the factors that the court considers when determining if a schedule is in the best interest of the child, which are:

  • The physical, emotional, mental, religious, and social needs of the child
  • The capability and desire of each parent to meet those needs
  • The preference of the child if the child is older and mature enough to have an opinion
  • The stability of the child's current residence, length of time the child has been in a stable environment, and if it is better for the child to stay in the current place of residence
  • The love and affection existing between the child and each parent
  • The willingness of each parent to encourage and facilitate a close relationship between the child and the other parent
  • Any history or evidence of domestic abuse, child abuse, or child neglect
  • Any history or evidence of substance abuse by either parent

You can use these factors as a guide when you make decisions concerning the schedule. Specifically, you should always be sure that your custody schedule helps meet the physical, emotional, mental, religious and social needs of the child.

You should also prepare so that if you need to present your schedule to the court you can explain exactly how your schedule does help your child meet those needs.

In Alaska, what does the judge look for when approving shared custody?

Alaska Statute 25.20.090 lists some of the factors the court considers when ruling on shared custody, some of which are:

  • The state of the home environments of each parent
  • The educational needs of the child
  • The best time for the child to spend with each parent considering:

    • The actual time to be spent with each parent
    • How close each parent lives to the child's school and each other
    • The ease of travel between the parents
    • Any unique or special needs of the child and which parent possesses the ability to better meet those needs
    • How willing each parent is to encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child

In Alaska, how does shared custody work?

Shared custody does not necessarily mean sharing the time with the child 50/50. A shared custody schedule should provide the child ample time with both parents.

Every family is different and no one knows the needs of a child better than the parents. With careful planning and a little compromise, you should be able to reach an agreement and create a schedule that will benefit everyone. Children need love, nurturing, and involvement from both parents.

One parent should not be saddled with all of the responsibilities and day to day care giving, and the other parent should not be denied those responsibilities. As each family is unique, so are the visitation plans.

How do I know I am making a joint schedule correctly?

Think about the needs of your child and both of your schedules, and go from there. Try to arrange the schedule so your child spends the optimal amount of time with each of you.

Perhaps one parent works only four days a week, or on weekends, or gets off early on Fridays. Planning the schedule according to the various availabilities of the parents, so that they may make the most of the time they have with the child, is more important than following a "traditional" plan.

Once a set visitation schedule is decided upon, whether it be a 2/2/3/3 plan, a 2/2/5/5 plan, alternating weeks, or something entirely unique, adjustments will need to be made to the visitation schedule for holidays and vacations.

Many parents sharing custody trade off on the holidays and alternate them each year.

Thoughtfully planned and mutually agreed upon proposed visitation schedules are almost always adopted by the court, especially if they meet the needs and best interests of the child.

In Alaska, are there any special laws for military families?

Yes. The law provides exceptions for military families. According to Alaska Statute 25.20.095, a deployed parent or a parent who may possibly be deployed in the military loses no custodial rights upon deployment.

The deployed parent may also delegate their visitation rights to a family member, including a step-parent, while they are deployed if it is in the best interest of the child.

Reasonable accommodations should be made to ensure the child gets plenty of visitation time with the parent when the deployed parent returns home.

In Alaska, are there penalties for not following the visitation schedule?

Yes. After the court approves the child visitation schedule, it becomes a court order.

If one parent fails, without cause or just excuse, to permit the visitation with the other parent from occurring, the parent entitled to visitation may recover damages from the offending parent in the amount of $200 per occurrence (AS 25.20.140).

A "just excuse" includes an illness of the child severe enough that complying with the visitation schedule would pose a health risk to the child. A child vocalizing a preference not to have visitation with the other parent is not a "just excuse".

When drafting a visitation schedule, you may want to provide for an alternative/make up visitation plan in case of visits missed due to a just excuse.

Once my Alaska custody order is final, can I still use Custody X Change?

Absolutely. Custody X Change is a valuable tool you can use for years.

With Custody X Change, you can:

  • Easily make changes to the calendar and add special events when the custody changes.
  • Print multiple copies of the calendar for you, the other parent, and the child.
  • Sync the visitation schedule to to all major calendaring tools.
  • Pay an accurate amount of child support based on the timeshare percentage calculation.
  • Keep track of actual visitation to ensure that the agreement is being followed.
  • Keep a visitation journal that details what happened during visitation.
  • Modify an existing agreement with the actual-time and journaling reports.
  • Enjoy the time with your children because you aren't worrying about the visitation schedule or agreement.

The top ten cities in Alaska (by population, 2005 estimate) are: Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Wasilla, Sitka, Kenai, Ketchikan, Palmer, Bethel, Kodiak.

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