Divorce in Alaska: everything you need to know

1 min readLast updated February 20, 2024by Unbiased team

From filing, costs, and more, this guide will take you through divorce in Alaska and help you make informed decisions

Summary

  • The median cost of divorce in the US is $7,000, but this can fluctuate massively depending on your unique circumstances.

  • Understanding asset division and spousal support guidelines can help with financial planning when going through a divorce.

  • Alaska does not have a mandatory separation period for divorce.

  • A financial advisor can help you navigate your finances during a divorce and rebuild afterward.

How much does a divorce cost in Alaska?

  • Getting divorced in Alaska can cost between $15,000-$30,000 on average when contested.

  • There are options like mediation and collaborative divorce that can reduce costs.

  • Understanding asset division and spousal support guidelines can help with financial planning.

  • Setting boundaries and consulting professionals safeguards finances amidst a turbulent time.

Alaska has one of the highest divorce rates in the country.

Need help rebuilding your finances after divorce?

A financial advisor can guide you through your financial recovery both during and after your divorce.

If you find yourself considering or going through a divorce, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed about untangling your finances. This guide breaks down the key things to understand about the cost and financial impact of divorce in Alaska.

What are the different types of divorce in Alaska?

There are a few options that determine how you’ll proceed with your divorce and resolve issues like asset division and child custody. The main types of divorce in Alaska include:

  • Contested divorce: You and your spouse do not agree on the terms of your divorce and bring unsettled issues before a judge. This costs more and takes longer but allows a third party to decide outcomes.

  • Uncontested divorce: You and your spouse agree on how to divide assets, debts, child custody arrangements, etc. This can cost less and be resolved quicker.

  • Mediation: You work with a neutral mediator to negotiate the details of your divorce. This can cost less than litigation.

  • Collaborative divorce: Each spouse has an attorney and agrees to negotiate in good faith without going to court. This is generally less adversarial.

The type of divorce you end up with depends on your and your spouse's situation and willingness to cooperate. Even cases that start uncontested can become contested later.

How do I file for divorce in Alaska?

To officially initiate divorce proceedings in Alaska, one spouse must file a petition or complaint for dissolution with the Superior Court. This includes stating if you want a contested or uncontested divorce. You must also have lived in Alaska for six consecutive months.

Next, you must formally serve your spouse the divorce papers, notifying them of the proceedings. In Alaska, anyone over 18 who is not involved in the case can serve papers.

Once served, you must provide proof of service filing to the court. Your spouse then has 20 days to respond after receiving the petition.

Additionally, there is a 90-day mandatory “cooling off” waiting period before a judge will finalize a divorce. Exceptions occur in cases of domestic violence or if the respondent never appears in court after being served.

What does an Alaska divorce cost on average?

The average contested divorce in Alaska ranges from $15,000-$30,000. However, costs vary widely based on where you live, if you have children, real estate, how contested issues become, and more.

An uncontested or mediated divorce often ranges from $5,000 to $15,000 in total by avoiding excessive attorney fees and court appearances fighting over disputes. Agreeing how to divide assets yourself saves money.

Some other typical costs include:

  • Filing fees: It costs around $200 to file initial divorce forms. Appeals and contempt motions carry additional fees.

  • Service fees: $50 and up to serve your spouse, depending on location.

  • Attorney fees: This amounts to between $250 and $500+ per hour for attorneys and paralegals. Contested cases rack up exponentially more fees quickly.

  • Expert fees: For things like business valuation, custody evaluation, and forensic accounting. Anywhere from $2,000-$10,000+ per specialty.

  • Mandatory Divorce Education course: $60 per person. Parents with kids under 18 must complete this.

To save money, be as cooperative as possible, use mediation for disputes, share experts if feasible, or consider representing yourself in simple, uncontested cases.

How are assets divided in an Alaska divorce?

Alaska is an "equitable distribution" state when dissolving marital assets.

This means assets are divided in a fair (not necessarily equal) way based on factors like:

  • Length of marriage

  • Age and health of spouses

  • Income and financial needs

  • Who holds title to the property

  • If assets were obtained before or during marriage

Debts also get divided equitably based on these factors. The court can order one spouse to assume more debt to balance out asset division.

Alaska also recognizes “marital property agreements.”

If you have a prenup or postnup that fairly and voluntarily divides property, those terms will govern asset distribution.

Is spousal support awarded in Alaska divorces?

Alaska allows spousal maintenance or alimony to help financially support an ex-spouse who earns significantly less income. Courts determine alimony case by case based on the following:

  • Length of marriage – Higher support is awarded in long-term marriages

  • Age and health – If one spouse is older or unhealthy, unable to be financially self-sufficient

  • Income potential – What each spouse could potentially earn based on skills and experience

  • Standard of living – Trying to maintain the marital standard of living for both

  • Domestic violence – More support if a spouse needs help becoming independent post-abuse

Alimony typically lasts an amount of years equal to half the length of the marriage. So, 10 years of marriage may warrant five years of support. The court won’t award maintenance when they determine both spouses can be self-sufficient.

How can I protect my finances during a divorce?

Divorce puts people under extreme emotional and financial strain. Here are some tips to safeguard your finances as you navigate this challenge:

  • Consult professionals. Work with an accountant to understand your rights and options. They can help forecast costs, estimate settlements, and plan wisely.

  • Gather financial records. Make copies of past tax returns, bank/investment statements, real estate paperwork, prenups, business docs, retirement plans, debts owed, etc. This supports negotiations and asset division.

  • Open separate accounts. Open personal checking/savings accounts and credit cards in your name only. Cancel shared credit cards or freeze joint assets if concerned about debt or hiding of funds during proceedings.

  • Follow court orders. Comply with rules on asset distribution, spending limits, reporting, payments owed, etc. Ignoring orders can hurt your outcome.

  • Avoid unnecessary spending. It’s tempting to drain accounts or run up debt out of emotion. However, large expenditures must be reported and could impact your final settlement negatively.

  • Stay insured. Make sure health/life insurance, disability coverage, etc., stays active until the divorce finalizes in case of illness or other roadblocks.

Get expert financial advice

Going through a divorce in Alaska can be complicated and emotional.

Understanding the legal landscape and financial implications from the start helps reduce stress during an already difficult transition.

Unbiased can connect you with a financial advisor perfectly suited to meet your needs. Simply provide some details about what you’re looking for, and Unbiased’s platform will match you with your advisor.

Find your financial advisor with Unbiased today.

Writers

Unbiased team

Our team of writers, who have decades of experience writing about personal finance, including investing and retirement, are here to help you find out what you must know about life’s biggest financial decisions.

Need help rebuilding your finances after divorce?

A financial advisor can guide you through your financial recovery both during and after your divorce.