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Unmarried parties and child custody

In child custody cases involving unmarried parents, Alaska law requires that the child must have lived in the state for at least six months before the parents file for custody or the courts will not be able to render a verdict. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule for extremely young children and in emergency situations. The parents might want to wait until the six-month time frame has passed, or they might opt to file in the previous state of residence.

Similar to a divorce, child custody can be either contested or uncontested. If the parents agree about the majority of issues in the case, such as where the child will live and child support, they can file uncontested custody. If they do not agree, the case will take longer to resolve.

In reaching a child custody decision, the court does not favor one parent over the other. Each has a chance to state their perspective on the matter, and the court will take their thoughts into consideration when ultimately basing its decision on the best interests of the child. Filing the paperwork is not complicated, but some decide to enlist the help of an attorney to ensure that all of the forms are properly completed and that they do everything correctly. The filer will need two copies of each document, one for each party, and will need to pay the required fees. They might qualify for an exemption when paying the fees and can fill out a form to request this consideration.

Filing for child custody for unmarried parents can be involved, especially when the parties do not agree. A family law attorney can guide a client through the process.

Source: Alaska Court System, "Filing for Child Custody by Unmarried Parents", September 26, 2014

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