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How child custody is determined in Alaska

The state of Alaska, like other states in the union, has statutes that require the consideration of a child's best interests whenever decisions are being made regarding a child's placement, custody or other aspects of the child's life. There is no standard definition of what the best interest of a child, so it falls to judges to decide on a case-by-case basis what is best for a child in regard to child custody and visitation arrangements.

However, many state statues include principles that guide a court's decision making process. For example, a child's health and safety must be protected. In addition, the court is directed to place importance upon the integrity of the family. In other words, whenever possible it is best to keep families together. Courts are also directed to make decisions in a timely fashion.

Child custody issues are perhaps one of the most emotionally-charged and difficult parts of the divorce process. A lawyer with a background in family law may work with a client to determine what arrangements are in the best interest of the children. In addition to physical and legal custody, other issues regarding the children need to be determined such as a visitation schedule, child support and a co-parenting plan.

If these arrangements can be agreed upon by both parties, then a judge is likely to accept them rather than creating a generic child custody arrangement based on a formula. An exception to this may be if a judge has reason to believe that a proposed child custody arrangement may not be in the best interest of the children. If that is the case, a judge may order a different arrangement.

Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway , "Determining the Best Interests of the Child", December 09, 2014

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