Child Custody Lawyer
Custody is often one of the most heart-wrenching parts of going through a divorce. Finding the child’s best interest and laying the ground rules of the new family dynamic can be a difficult task. When wading through the custody waters in Alaska there are a few things to keep in mind.
- There’s a difference between legal custody and physical custody.
- The courts will act in the best interest of the child.
- The courts begin with the assumption that both parents are entitled to equal access to the child.
- There are special laws that apply when domestic violence or substance abuse are involved.
Legal vs Physical Custody
In short, legal custody allows parents to make medical, educational, religious and other important life decisions for the child. The court will typically try to allow both parents to have legal custody.
Physical custody pertains to where the child lives and stays. This type of custody can have a large impact on how child support is calculated. A parent can be awarded primary, shared or hybrid physical custody.
Courts will address several questions when deciding the best interest of the child. Those questions include but are not limited to:
- What are the needs of the child?
- What is the child’s preference?
- How is the relationship between the child and parent?
- How willing is the parent to maintain a close relationship with the other parent and the child?
- Is there a history of domestic violence, child abuse, or child neglect?
- Is there any evidence of substance abuse?
Anytime a parent is suspected or found guilty of domestic violence or substance abuse the courts can limit the custody rights of that parent. It is also within the court’s power to order parents to undergo anger management or substance abuse treatment before visitation or custody rights can be established.