Divorce in Alaska: everything you need to know

1 min readLast updated April 10, 2024by Unbiased team

This guide will take you through what you need to know when going through a divorce in the state of Alaska, including how to file, how much it will cost, and how to protect your finances.

Summary

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

  • When a divorce is contested, costs can run up to $30,000.

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

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

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.

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

Alaska allows both “fault” and “no-fault” divorces.

When filing for divorce, there are a number of routes you can take, including:

  • 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 and means a third party will decide all outcomes.

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

  • 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 much does a divorce cost in Alaska?

If you find yourself considering or going through a divorce, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed about untangling your finances.

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, and how contested issues become.

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: It costs upwards of $50 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: This can cost $60 per person. Parents with kids under 18 must complete this.

For those who want to reduce the cost of their divorce, there are options like mediation. Here, you work with a neutral mediator to negotiate the details of your divorce. This can cost less than litigation.

You can also opt for a collaborative divorce, as discussed above.

Understanding asset division and spousal support guidelines can also help with financial planning and keep costs down.

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 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.

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 a financial advisor to understand your options and how you can legally safeguard your assets. 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.

  • 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 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.