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Alaska child support, custody, visitation, and wage garnishment rules

Use this Alaska child support law to learn about your child support rights and responsibilites.

How is Alaska child support determined?

In Alaska, either or both parents may be ordered to provide child support.

Alaska has set guidelines for child support, designed to be in the best interest of the children. Unless the parents have a written agreement stating a different amount, as well as a reasonable explanation for the difference, child support will be based on these Alaska guidelines. The only reasons to deviate from these standard guidelines would be:

  • especially large family size
  • significant income of a child
  • health or other extraordinary expenses
  • unusually low expenses
  • the parent responsible for support has an income below poverty level

For non-custodial parents with income over $72,000, the above factors do not apply. In those instances, support ordered is based on:

  • an increased award that is just and proper in relation to the NCP's income
  • the needs of the children
  • the standard of living of the children
  • the extent to which the standard of living of the children should be reflective of the parent's ability to pay

Each parent must file a verified statement of income.

Support payments are based on a percentage of disposable net income of the parent responsible for support. Other factors including second families, insurance and day care costs may also be considered. Percentages of net income used to determine child support amounts in Alaska are:

Number of children to support from the relationship:

  • 1 = 20%
  • 2 = 27%
  • 3 = 33%
  • 4 = 36%
  • 5 = 39%
  • 6 = 42%

At what age does child support payments end?

Generally, the obligation ends when the child reaches 18 years of age.

Alaska's custody guidelines:

In Alaska, neither parent is considered to be entitled to custody. Custody is determined with the best interests the child in mind. The factors the court in Alaska considers include:

  • the capacity and desire of each parent to meet the child’s needs;
  • the physical, emotional, mental, religious and social needs of the child
  • the preference of the child if considered old enough to make that decision
  • the love and affection between the child and each parent
  • the length of time the child has lived in a stable environment and the desire to maintain continuity
  • the desire and ability of each parent to allow an open and loving and frequent relationship between the child and the other parent
  • any evidence of domestic violence
  • any evidence of substance abuse that affects the emotional or physical well-being of the child
  • any other relevant factors

Alaska's medical insurance guidelines:

Generally, a determination about who is going to provide medical health care insurance for the children and how uninsured medical bills will be paid is part of the marital settlement agreement set out in the divorce process.

However, if a medical insurance plan is available through a parent’s employment, they are required to cover their children on this plan. When one parent provides the medical insurance, credit is usually granted, and the amount used to pay for the medical insurance is subtracted from child support obligation.

How permanent are the provisions for Alaska child support and custody ?

As in most states, court orders providing for support and custody of children are subject to modification after a divorce if there is a substantial change in either of the parties’ circumstances. For example, in Alaska, the child support agency or the courts can modify the court order if the non-custodial parent’s income has increased or decreased by at least 15% since the last order. This is just one example. There are other reasons that could qualify an order to be modified.

While all orders concerning the children are modifiable in the future, we encourage you to not enter into an agreement based on the idea that it can always be changed or modified later.

Wage garnishment for child support payments:

Yes. Almost every state, including Alaska, has a provision for withholding child support directly from the earnings of the parent who has been ordered to provide support. It is very similar to the way income tax is withheld.

This way of paying and receiving child support is generally easier for both parties and considered a very dependable solution. The way it typically works is, once the support is withheld, it is then sent to the state agency authorized to receive and disburse payments. Once it has been verified that the support was paid, it is then sent to the custodial parent.

If a non-custodial parent can show that they are providing more than 50 percent of the support for dependents not included in the court order from a second marriage, and is not in arrears, no more than 50% of their disposable income can be attached if they cannot pay the full court-ordered amount of both orders.

That number goes to 55% if the non-custodial parent is in arrears, 60 percent for a person only providing support to dependents under the current order, and 65% for a person who is in arrears and paying only on the current order.

How does joint custody work?

In Alaska, if parents do not agree to joint custody between themselves, the court can award joint or shared custody. Most all states are now encouraging parents to work together for the benefit of the children and agree to joint custody. Specifically, joint custody is a form of custody of minor children that requires both parents to share the responsibilities of the children, and for both parents to approve all major decisions related to the children.

While it is a 50-50 sharing of responsibilities and major decisions affecting the children, it rarely works out to be a 50-50 sharing of time with the children. Usually one parent is named as the primary joint custodian and the other parent is granted visitation "at all times mutually agreed" upon, and failing an agreement, following the terms of the state’s standard visitation policy. The primary joint custodian typically retains the decision making power to determine the child’s primary residence and school and to designate things such as the child’s
primary physician.

How Alaska determines child visitation:

Through the years, a standard visitation schedule has emerged that most states, including Alaska, consider to be in the best interest of the children. Although parents are generally free to visit with their children at all times mutually agreed to by the parents, this standard visitation schedule provides a safe and acceptable solution for those times when parents cannot mutually agree.

With some minor differences, the standard visitation schedule includes:

  • every other weekend
  • summer visitation of four to six (4-6) weeks
  • alternating holidays