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Filing for Dissolution or Divorce - Ending Your Marriage

READ THIS IF YOU HAVE KIDS!

A history of domestic violence between you and the other parent can affect the custody or visitation arrangement for your children. The law presumes that the parent who committed the domestic violence might not get custody and visitation unless he or she meets certain requirements. These may include completing a batterer’s intervention or substance abuse treatment program. To find domestic violence, the law does not require the existence of a protective order or criminal charges. The divorce or custody judge may ask about domestic violence. If there has been domestic violence, you should talk with a lawyer about how this law will impact your case.

What issues does a dissolution or divorce case deal with?

Both cases end the marriage and divide marital property and debt (including retirement accounts). When the couple has children, both cases also decide a parenting plan which is the custody and visitation arrangement and issue a child support order.

You can learn more about property and debt division when ending a marriage.

You can learn more about parenting plans (custody and visitation).

You can learn more about child support.

What is the difference between a dissolution or divorce case?

The difference is whether the couple agrees or disagrees about the issues. If they agree on all issues, they can file a dissolution case together. If they don't agree, one spouse can file a divorce case.

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What forms do I need to file for dissolution or divorce?

To start a case in court, you must file a document called either a complaint or a petition, and required attachments. The kind of complaint or petition you file will depend on your situation.

The first question is whether or not you have children, so please click on the appropriate link below to see a list of available forms:

- There are minor children (whether or not there are paternity issues and/or the wife is pregnant)
- There are no minor children

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What if we agree on all issues before filing?

If you agree, both parties can file uncontested paperwork together which will make the case go much faster. Please read the Uncontested Matters, Agreements and Settlements section for forms and information.

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What if we filed for dissolution but want to change to a divorce?

If you initially filed for a dissolution but want to change it to a divorce case because you no longer agree on everything, you can file:

If the judge grants the order and converts the case to a divorce, the case will move ahead as a divorce case. Read more about the different stages and topics in divorce cases.

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How much does it cost to open a case?

Please see our fee information page.

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Can my spouse stop me from getting a divorce?

No. If you file for divorce and include all the required, properly completed paperwork, your spouse cannot stop you from getting a divorce, even if he or she does not want one.

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Is there a residency requirement to file?

Yes. Either you or your spouse may file to end your marriage in Alaska as long as the filing spouse is a resident of the state. Generally, you are an Alaska resident for the purposes of filing for divorce or dissolution if you are in Alaska when you file and intend to stay as a resident. Also, if you don't live in Alaska and were married outside of Alaska, but your spouse is an Alaska resident, you can file in Alaska.

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What is the residency requirement if I'm a military member or spouse?

If you are serving in the military and are continuously stationed at a military base in Alaska for at least 30 days, you are an Alaskan resident for the purposes of filing a divorce case. But think carefully about where you want to file because there are 3 options for a military member or spouse:

Although either spouse may file for divorce in any of the three locations listed above, the laws about divorce and property distribution may be different in each state. You should consult with an attorney to decide where is the best place to file your case.

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What if I don't meet the residency requirement?

If the court finds that it does not have jurisdiction to hear the case because you don't meet the residency requirement, the case may be dismissed.

Jurisdiction is a very complicated subject and you should talk to an attorney to figure out where is the best place to file your case. If you don't meet the residency requirements to file in Alaska, here are some options:

  1. Do not move forward with filing your case in Alaska.
  2. Establish residency in Alaska for the period of time discussed above depending on your case type.
  3. Have your spouse file the case if he or she meets the necessary residency requirements for Alaska.
  4. Choose another state where you or your spouse meets the residency requirements. State residency laws may be different so check the state in which you were married and the states where you each may live as options for where to file.

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Is there a waiting period before a divorce or dissolution is finalized in Alaska?

Generally, you must wait at least 30 days after filing for divorce or dissolution before the judge will sign the final divorce decree.

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What if I can't make the dissolution hearing?

If you cannot attend the dissolution hearing in person, you have some options.

Ask to participate by telephone

If you and your spouse agree to the telephonic appearance, you can both file the Joint Motion form together that asks the court to allow one or both of you to be on the phone:

If you and your spouse do not agree to the telephonic appearance, you can file the following motion that asks the court to allow you to be on the phone:

You need to provide your spouse with a copy of this Motion and fill out the certificate of service at the bottom.  For more information about serving the opposing party, see http://www.courts.alaska.gov/serve.htm.

Ask to waive your appearance

If you cannot be there in person or on the telephone, you can file a form that asks the court to have the hearing without you.

The court may need to call you so the form asks for a phone number to reach you, but this doesn't mean that the court will call you.

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Does the person filing the divorce complaint have an advantage over the person filing the answer?

No, there is no advantage to being the person who starts the case. Both parties have the opportunity to file papers which state their viewpoint in the case. The judge will consider what each party says and apply the appropriate legal factors to decide the issues.

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Are there classes that can help me fill out the forms?

Yes, there are classes in many communities. However, the forms are fairly straightforward, so do not be afraid to try it on your own. If you get stuck, you can always call the Family Law Helpline or consult with an attorney.

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After I have filled out all of the divorce forms, what do I do?

You are now ready to file in court and get the defendant served:

  1. Make two copies of everything (one for you and one for the defendant);
  2. File the original documents at your local court;
  3. Pay the required fee or submit the Request for Exemption from Payment of Fees, TF-920; Adobe Acrobat PDF logo
  4. Get two copies of the summons and standing order back from the clerk (one copy is for you and one for the defendant);
  5. Put together the defendant's packet, which is a copy of everything you filed plus the summons and standing order. Serve the defendant either by certified mail/return receipt/restricted delivery OR process server. Please read the information about serving the opposing party. If you have an unusual situation, please see more on this page for more information about serving people. You may also find How to Serve a Summons in a Civil Lawsuit, CIV-106 Adobe Acrobat PDF logo helpful.
  6. Keep your copies in a folder.

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Can I file by mail?

Yes, you can mail your papers to the court for filing using 1st class US mail. You need to include 3 things:

  1. all of the required forms that you have filled out, signed and had notarized where indicated.
  2. the filing fee, unless you are asking for a fee waiver.
  3. a self-addressed stamped envelope so the court can mail you the summons and the domestic relations procedural order after your case is opened.

Make 2 copies of all papers before you mail the originals to the court. Keep 1 copy for your records. You will need 1 copy to serve the defendant later after you get the summons and domestic relations procedural order.

Serve the opposing party with:

There are special requirements to serve a complaint and summons.

View video: Mailing Documents Play Mailing Documents Video

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After I have properly served the defendant with the divorce complaint, what do I do?

You wait. When you receive the proof of service, put it in a safe place. The defendant has 20 days from the date of being served to respond to the complaint. If nothing is filed, you may ask for a default. If the defendant answers, your case will move forward as a contested case and be set for trial.

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Am I required to go to any parenting classes or to see a video if we have any children?

It depends. Many courts require that you view the Listen to the Children video, and some courts also require a special class or workshop. Please check with your local court to confirm what is currently required.

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What if I cannot find my spouse?

If you are married and cannot find your spouse, you can still get divorced BUT ONLY AFTER you have made what is called "diligent inquiry," which means looking really hard for your spouse. After you have completed your diligent inquiry you must submit an affidavit explaining how and where you looked, and ask for permission to serve that missing spouse by publishing notice in a newspaper or posting in certain places.

Your missing spouse may be easier to locate than you think, and you may very well find them after you do your diligent inquiry. Please see our Tips on Locating People for some ideas of how to search for someone. Please note that you will need to try most of these things before the court will allow you to get divorced.

Once you have done your diligent inquiry, you have two options:

  1. Dissolution Packet #3, DR-3
    Note: this procedure will not let you address custody of the children or the dividing of property and debts.
  2. Divorce Complaint Packet:

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What if I or my spouse wants to file bankruptcy and divorce?

Filing for bankruptcy and divorce are serious actions. There are important considerations about when you file each of these cases because it can affect the marital property and debts. Also once you file for bankruptcy, usually all other court cases are stayed (stopped) until the bankruptcy case gets sorted out. This doesn't mean that you can't get a divorce or figure out child custody during a bankruptcy case. But it will take some extra work to sort out the bankruptcy issues (property and debt) from your divorce case. You should talk with a bankruptcy attorney to figure out whether and when to file the different cases.

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After I file, what other information can help me to do the rest of the case?

This website has forms and information for all of the stages of the case. You can also find information about specific topics such as child support, parenting and custody, paternity, property and debt division and dividing retirement benefits.

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Rev. 7 January 2014
© Alaska Court System

www.courts.alaska.gov
webmaster@akcourts.us

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