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Jurisdiction for Child Custody and Support - Frequently Asked Questions

What does jurisdiction mean?

Jurisdiction is the legal word for power, or authority, to make a decision. Before a court can make a decision in your case, it must have power or authority to consider the facts and apply the law, so as to declare a judgment.

Why does it matter?

A court without power or authority cannot issue a decision.

How do I figure out the jurisdiction in my case?

The general rule in a case involving children is that only the "home state" of the child has the power to make decisions. "Home state" generally means the state where the child has lawfully resided during the six months preceding the filing of the court case. However, there are some very complicated exceptions. If you have any doubts or questions about what is the proper court for your case, you are strongly urged to seek assistance from a lawyer.

What about modifying an order from the state I used to live in?

Foreign order or judgment is a legal term to describe an order or judgment from any other state than the state where the order or judgment was issued. This is a very complicated area. In some instances, you will be able to take the order from the other state and register it as a foreign order in the state where you now live.

In other instances, you will have to return to the original state to modify, or perhaps go to an entirely new state to modify. Because this is a very complicated area of law you are strongly urged to seek the assistance of an attorney.

Can I find out something about these laws before I talk with a lawyer?

Yes. You can read these laws in a statute book or on the internet. The citations for the Alaska laws are listed below. Remember, every state has its own laws, even though they may go by the same name as our laws in Alaska.

The law controlling custody cases:
Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), AS 25.30.300 et seq.

The law controlling support cases:
Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), AS 25.25.101 et seq.

If I need to register a foreign order in Alaska, how do I do that?

If you determine, either on your own or with the assistance of an attorney, that you need to register either a child support and/or a child custody order from another state in Alaska, see the registering foreign orders page for helpful information and forms.

Rev. 06 February 2006
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