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Alaska Uncontested Divorce

This information is an overview of the uncontested Alaska divorce filing process and a summary of the divorce papers that are typically filed with the family law or domestic relations clerk. This overview is not intended to be an exact step-by-step guide for those "do it yourself divorce" filers, due to the fact that many cases are unique and the overview presented here is often not the only method of obtaining an uncontested divorce in Alaska.

To file for a divorce or dissolution in Alaska, the filing spouse must be a resident of the state.

Grounds for divorce or dissolution are No-Fault, which means "[i]ncompatability of temperament which has caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage." Fault grounds are 1) adultery, 2) incurable mental illness and confinement for 18 months, 3) drug abuse, 4) failure to consummate the marriage, 5) conviction of a felony, 6) willful desertion for a year and cruel and/or inhuman treatment, 7) personal indignities, 8) habitual drunkenness.

Actions are filed in the Superior Court of the judicial district of the resident.



In Alaska, contested actions are called divorces; uncontested actions are called dissolutions. The forms and procedures associated with divorces and dissolutions are different.

In dissolutions, the filing spouse is called the Petitioner; the responding spouse is called the Respondent. In divorce actions, the filing spouse is called the Plaintiff; the responding spouse is called the Defendant.

Alaska permits a simplified dissolution of marriage when the spouses jointly file on ground of incompatibility of temperament under these conditions:

> 1) if the wife is pregnant or there are minor children, the spouses have agreed on custody, visitation and support for the minor children, in particular a) whether these payments are to be made through the state support enforcement agency and b) the tax consequences of the agreement regarding the children;

> 2) the spouses have agreed to the distribution of all jointly owned property, including retirement benefits, and the payment of spousal support, if any, and the tax consequences of the payments, (and this arrangement is "fair and just");

> 3) the spouses have agreed to the payment of all debts incurred individually or jointly, and the payment of all future obligations incurred jointly.

An individual spouse may petition for dissolution of marriage on the ground of incompatibility of temperament under these conditions: when he or she cannot ascertain his or her spouse’s position on "the dissolution of their marriage, the division of property, obligations, custody, support, custody and visitation of children" a) "because the whereabouts of the other spouse is unknown to the petitioning spouse" and b) "the other spouse cannot be personally serviced with process inside or outside the state."

Filing for a dissolution does not preclude filing for a divorce.

When a husband and wife file jointly to dissolve a marriage without children, they must complete the following forms:

> A Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, DR-100, which asks the court to end the marriage on grounds of irredeemable breakdown and spells out the terms and conditions of the marital settlement of assets and liabilities;

> An Information Sheet, DR-314, which identifies the parties in the action;

> A Certificate of Divorce, Dissolution of Marriage or Annulment, VS-401, which records the action for the Bureau of Vital Statistics and which must be obtained from the court.

When these forms are filed with the clerk of the court, he or she schedules a hearing at least 30 days after the date of filing. At least one spouse must attend the hearing, but it is preferred that both spouses attend. If one spouse does not attend, he or she must complete an Appearance and Waiver of Hearing, DR-110, in which he or she waives his or her right to appear.

In some court locations, the hearing is held before a Superior Court Master, who makes recommendations to a judge and he or she later signs the decree.

The execution of any agreements within the petition are the responsibility of the spouses, not the court.

When a husband and wife file jointly to dissolve a marriage with children, they must complete a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, DR-105, which varies depending upon whether the action is filed in Anchorage, Fairbanks or elsewhere in Alaska.

Before the spouses may file, however, they must view a video entitled Listen to the Children, which deals with the impact of a failed marriage on children. After viewing the video the spouses are given a Certificate of Completion, which must be filed with other divorce papers in the clerk’s office.

The Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, DR-105, also contains a form DR-306, when parents seek joint custody. A form DR-307 is used for "divided" custody or a form DR-308 may be attached for "hybrid" custody.

When a husband and wife file jointly to dissolve a marriage with children, both spouses normally attend the hearing, but if this is a hardship, the absent spouse must complete an Appearance and Waiver of Hearing, DR-110, in which he or she waives his or her right to appear.

In addition, the couple must also complete An Information Sheet, DR-314, which identifies the parties; a Certificate of Divorce, Dissolution of Marriage or Annulment, VS-401, for the Bureau of Vital Statistics as well as a Shared Custody Child Support Calculation form, DR-306, which shows the amount the parents contribute to the support of minor children. Normally the couple read a pamphlet, Information about CSSD, DR-316, which describes the workings of the agency, and then complete an Application for CSSD Services, DR-315, by which the state agency enforces a support order.

In Alaska, when one spouse files for a dissolution because he or she cannot locate his or her partner, the filing spouse must demonstrate that he or she cannot personally serve the missing partner inside or outside the state. To this end, the Petitioner must file an Affidavit of Diligent Inquiry, DR-210, which describes his or her efforts at locating the missing partner. These efforts include a search at the last known address, contacting "friends, family and employers," telephone inquiries and queries at motor vehicle registration.

After the affidavit is filed, the court may require further inquiries, or the clerk may issue a Notice to Absent Spouse, DR-220, which the Petitioner must publish once a week for four consecutive weeks. After this, the Petitioner files a Proof of Notice, DR-225, and at least 30 days after the last publication, a hearing is held.

In addition to the Affidavit of Diligent Inquiry, the Petitioner applying for the dissolution of a marriage to a missing spouse must file the following:

> A Petition for Dissolution of Marriage (one spouse), DR-200;

> An Information Sheet, DR-314;

> Certificate of Divorce, Dissolution, or Annulment, VS-401.

As in other actions, in some locations a master conducts the hearing, with a judge later signing the divorce decree.

Couples who cannot agree about the terms and conditions of their marital dissolution must file for divorce.

The Plaintiff must file a Complaint for Divorce, With Minor Child(ren), SCH-101, or a Complaint for Divorce, Without Minor Child(ren), SCH-102.

In a divorce with minor children, the Plaintiff must also complete and file the following forms:

> Child Support Guidelines Affidavit, DR-305, which requires financial information to determine child support;

> Child Custody Jurisdiction Affidavit, DR-150, which shows the court where minor children have lived in the past, so the court can determine that it has jurisdiction (usually at least six months prior to the filing of the complaint).

In all cases, moreover, the Plaintiff must file these forms:

> Case Description Form, CIV-125, which identifies the case;

> An Information Form, DR-314, which provides basic information;

> Certificate of Divorce, VS-401, which records the action for the Bureau of Vital Statistics;

> Property and Debt Worksheet, SHC-1000, which details the Plaintiff’s request for the division and distribution of marital property;

> The Summons, CIV-100, which puts the Defendant on notice of the action.

The Defendant must be served properly. This means he or she must receive a copy of the Complaint, the Summons and any standing orders normally issued in a divorce. Service of process must be done in one of two ways:

> Process Server, who completes a Return of Service, or

> Certified Mail/Restrict Delivery/Return Receipt Requested, which comes with a green card signed by the Defendent.

The Defendent has 20 days after being served to file an Answer and Counterclaim, SHC-117. If he or she does not answer, the Plaintiff may file a motion for a Default, which means the case moves also without the participation of the Defendent. The Default Application is SHC-400.

At the hearing, the Plaintiff must file the appropriate forms to bring the case to a conclusion:

> Divorce with Children and Property (Long form, i.e., property and debt to be divided by the court), Divorce Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, SHC-500 and Divorce Judgment and Decree, SHC, 510;

> Divorce with Children and Property (Short form, i.e., no property and debt to be divided by the court), Divorce Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, SHC-520 and Divorce Judgment and Decree, SHC-525;

> Divorce with Property But No Children (Long form, property and debt to be divided by the court), Divorce Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, SHC-530 and Divorce Judgment and Decree, SHC-535;

> Divorce with Property But No Children (Short form, i.e., no property and debt to be divided by the court), Divorce Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, SHC-540 and Divorce Judgment and Decree, SHC-545.