If you are currently contemplating separation or divorce please schedule a consultation to discuss in detail your situation and how Mr. Marx can help affordably guide you through this difficult time. Please fill out the property table form and Vital Statistics Form and bring them with you to your scheduled meeting with Mr. Marx.
A great source of general information regarding the process of filing a divorce (contested) or dissolution (agreed upon settlement) can be located at the State of Alaska's Family Law Self-Help website.
Mr. Marx has written a primer on Alaska Divorce Law for your general information:
Primer on Alaska Divorce Law* (see next tab below)
Helpful Links and Forms:
Glossary of Family Law Terms
Child Support Guidelines Affidavit (Fill-in pdf)
Child Custody Jurisdiction Affidavit (Fill-in pdf)
Confidential Information Sheet (Fill-in pdf)
Financial Declaration (Fill-in pdf)
Dissolution without children
Some separations and divorces may include the distribution of different types of Pensions. Pension law is an incredibly complicated and technical area of law that requires a specialist rather than a generalist. Mr. Marx utilizes the consultation services of Willick Law Firm, perhaps the most expert firm in the country in the area of federal and military pensions.
You can also visit the State of Alaska Retirement and Benefits page at for more information on retirement benefits. For more information about Corporate and Military Pensions feel free to contact our office.
An additional resource for learning about attorney services in Alaska please visit Alaska Bar Association.
In Alaska, there are two different types of proceedings that will dissolve a marriage. The first, and more affordable option, is through an agreed upon dissolution. In a dissolution, the parties must agree on all property related and child custody issues, and file a single petition with the court that is signed by both spouses in front of a notary. Whatever you do, you should always have a lawyer review your dissolution agreement before signing, and it is even better to seek counsel to help with mediation or negotiations. After filing the petition, the court schedules a hearing normally about 20-30 days out. The parties then appear in court, with or without counsel. At the hearing, the judge or "master" reviews their agreement, takes some jurisdictional testimony from the parties and usually enters a decree of dissolution that day, or within a few days of the hearing, approving of the parties' agreement.
The other type of proceeding is a contested divorce. A divorce is necessary when the parties cannot agree on all of their property and / or child custody issues. The first party to file a complaint for divorce becomes the plaintiff, and earns the right to present their case first at trial. The other spouse then must file an answer. The complaint and answer together explain in general terms the primary issues that the parties differ on. A lawsuit then ensues, and the parties engage in what is called "discovery" to greater or lesser degrees (i.e. appraisals of property; medical exams; pension evaluations / actuarials, demanding other party release or produce documents or other information, etc.) typically depending upon the risk / reward of doing so. Ultimately, the parties either compromise and settle before trial, with the benefit of private mediators or judicial settlement conferences, or they litigate their issues at a trial, before the judge.
To assist you in identifying your property related issues, keep in mind the following. Alaska is an equitable distribution state. This means that the court will attempt to address the net effects of the divorce by equitably distributing the parties' marital estate. There are three steps to equitable distribution: characterization, valuation, and equitable division.
To characterize what is marital, you must determine what accrued to the marriage (from day one through date of separation) both on the positive and negative side of the marital ledger, except gifts and inheritance. There are other exceptions, but generally, what you acquire before marriage, and after separation is your separate property and will not be divied up in the divorce. The separation date can either be agreed upon or is the date the parties effectively unraveled their financial affairs.
Generally, valuation of marital property is based upon fair market value as close to the date of divorce as possible (agreement or divorce trial date). This means garage sale or Ebay values govern as opposed to replacement value.
Equitable division consists of deciding who gets what. It is based upon a number of statutory considerations that look at the relative age of the parties, length of the marriage, relative health, access to health insurance, relative education and financial opportunity, among other things. The court starts with a presumption that a 50-50 split is equitable and then will vary from an even split if one party is disadvantaged on balance, looking at all the statutory factors. A 70-30 split is nearing the upper end of what the court will generally entertain.
If the court finds the property division is inadequate to address the net effects of the divorce, then it will entertain an award of alimony or spousal support. Such an award must be necessary and just, and there is an abundance of caselaw on finer points surrouding this issue, but generally alimony is limited to a year or two in duration, and is always subject to modification when circumstances change.
Law Office of Brandon C. Marx
*This primer is not intended as legal advice and is provided for general background purposes only.
Child custody is one of the most emotionally charged and difficult issues to have to address through the legal system. Whenever possible, it is almost always better to try and resolve custody matters out of court. So often, however, parents simply cannot agree, and an adversarial contest is unavoidable. If you are unmarried and have yet to formalize your custody arrangement, or if you are going through a divorce or need help modifying your current order, please schedule a consultation with Mr. Marx to see how he would approach your particular concerns.
Mr. Marx has confronted nearly every different type of child support issue over the years. He has handled numerous modifications, successfully imputed income to parents who are unreasonably underemployed; represented clients in administrative appeals with the Child Support Services Division (CSSD) (http://www.childsupport.alaska.gov/); and successfully varied from the guidelines for clients with large subsequent families or other financial distress.
If you owe child support, and you believe there might be some good reason to reduce your obligation, you should immediately schedule an appointment with Mr. Marx, as the modification will not take effect until the month following your filing date.
If you are not receiving child support under an administrative
or court order, or perhaps no order has been established, please schedule
a consult right away to at least be advised on your rights and what
can be done.
Forms and Information about Child Support
Online Child Support Calculator (estimate)
Child Support Guidelines Affidavit (Fill-in pdf)
Child Custody Jurisdiction Affidavit (Fill-in pdf)
If you have a decree of divorce, property settlement agreement, or custody / support decree, that needs enforcement, please immediately call to schedule a private consultation. These cases often are time sensitive so it is important to not let these issues languish without a proper review with legal counsel.
Unlike the underlying divorce or custody action, you typically can recover a portion of your attorney fees if you are successful in your post decree enforcement actions.
Mr. Marx has successfully set aside or modified unjust property settlement agreements. These cases can be time sensitive so please do not hesitate to call to set up a consultation. If you feel you have been taken advantage of somehow in your divorce or dissolution, call right away.
Mr. Marx has successfully defended numerous clients from serious allegations raised in domestic violence protective order proceedings. Due to the expedited calendaring involved in these cases, please schedule a consult as early as possible to see if Mr. Marx will be able to assist you.
To the extent domestic violence is an issue in any custody case you may be contemplating, or involved in, Mr. Marx can advise you on all of the details surrounding how domestic violence can impact your custodial rights as a parent. There are clear statutory hurdles that must be overcome, so it is important to seek counsel when confronted with allegations or confirmed instances of domestic violence in a custody case.
If you have a child custody issue and have questions about where to file your case, or whether to try and move a case to a different jurisdiction, please call Mr. Marx for a consultation. He has handled several interstate jurisdictional issues over the years: recorded and enforced foreign custody orders, obtained summary dismissal of custody cases on jurisdictional grounds, and worked with counsel from other states to coordinate these issues effectively.
While Grandparents' rights have been circumscribed and limited over the years by the courts, grandparents play essential roles in the lives of their grandchildren. Often times conflicts arise when grandparents have funded custody cases for their children, only to be left feeling mistreated by the system, and in some cases, their own children. It is best for grandparents to retain separate counsel from the outset, to obtain independent advice and to ensure they understand all that can be done on their behalf.
Cheryl Jordan and Thomas Jordan v. Chandra Watson and William Jordan,
Slip No. 7213 (December 8, 2017).