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Modifying Child Custody or Child Support Order

READ THIS IF YOU HAVE KIDS!

A history of domestic violence between you and the other parent can affect the custody or visitation arrangement for your children. The law presumes that the parent who committed the domestic violence might not get custody and visitation unless he or she meets certain requirements. These may include completing a batterer’s intervention or substance abuse treatment program. To find domestic violence, the law does not require the existence of a protective order or criminal charges. The divorce or custody judge may ask about domestic violence. If there has been domestic violence, you should talk with a lawyer about how this law will impact your case.

What is a Motion to Modify?

A request to the court to change an existing court order because of a change in circumstances.

What can I modify?

What change in circumstances are needed to modify custody and support?

For custody, a change in circumstances means something has happened so that the old parenting plan is no longer in the child(ren)'s best interests. Examples include:

For child support, there needs to be:

The Alaska Supreme Court has issued many decisions about what types of circumstances amount to a change of circumstances allowing a modification.

How do I find out if the other parents income has changed?

Can child support be retroactively modified?

No. Generally, you will always owe child support according to the most recent court order, or administrative order if you do not have any court orders. Therefore, if there has been a 15% change in your income or the parenting plan has changed in a way that affects the child support, you must file a motion to change the child support. Otherwise, you'll just keep owing under the existing order. However, this is a dynamic area of law and you should consult with an attorney to find out whether there are any legal strategies that might be helpful to you.

Can you get support for an 18 year-old-child still at home and in high school?

Yes, as long as all of the conditions are met. Please read the Instructions, DR-323 Adobe Acrobat PDF logo for more information about the conditions and forms.

What is the difference between a Motion to Modify and an appeal?

A Motion to Modify is a request to the trial court or administrative agency to change an existing order because of a change in circumstances. The trial court or agency will consider new evidence as it relates to the change of circumstances. In the family law context, Motions to Modify Custody or Support can be filed anytime before the child(ren) turn eighteen.

An appeal in this context is a review by the Alaska Supreme Court of the final judgment or decree issued by the trial court of the agency. An appeal is not a new trial, and no new evidence will be accepted. Also, appeals occur shortly after the final judgment or decree is issued. In fact, the rules require that you must file a Notice of Appeal within 15 or 30 days depending on the type of case being appealed. Please see the appeals page for more information.

What forms can I use to file a Motion to Modify?

There are 2 options for paperwork that you can file. They both work, but the first gives you the opportunity to provide more specific information about the reason to modify:

OR

What forms can I use to respond to a Motion to Modify?

If you have been served with a Motion to Modify, you may use the following packet to respond:

What if we agree on the modification?

Even if both parents agree on the change, you still need to file something in court. Both parents can file together:

Read the Uncontested Matters, Agreements and Settlement section to learn more.

What forms are always required with a post-judgment motion?

With any motion filed after you have received a final judgment in a divorce or custody case, include:

Note: the Motion to Modify packet, DR 700, includes a form Notice of Motion to Change Custody, Support or Visitation, DR-710, which serves the same purpose. If you are filing the DR-710, you do not need to also file the SHC-1630.

If both parents are filing together an Uncontested Motion to Modify, SHC-PAC11, you do not need to file a Notice of Motion.

Are there any special service requirements?

You serve the opposing party by first class US mail or hand delivery. Please read the information about serving the opposing party.

But, if you are filing a motion to modify child custody and child support in court and the Child Support Services Division (CSSD) is collecting the support, you also need to also serve the Attorney General's Office who are the attorneys for CSSD. Look at your CSSD case number to determine which office is handling your case:

CSSD Case No. Attorney General's Address
Case numbers that begin with a 1, 2 or 3 go to:
Examples: 1JU-05-8888, 2BE-05-8888, or 3AN-05-8888
Attorney General’s Office
Collections and Support Section
1031 West Fourth Ave., Ste 200
Anchorage, AK 99501
Case numbers that begin with a 2 go to:
Example: 4FA-05-8888
Attorney General’s Office
Collections and Support Section
100 Cushman St., Ste. 400
Fairbanks, AK 99701

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

You can only modify an out-of-state custody order in the Alaska court if the Alaska court has jurisdiction over the child(ren). The general rule is that the child has to have lived in Alaska for at least the last six months before the Alaska court has the power to make decisions about child custody and visitation. However, jurisdiction can be very complicated so if you have any questions about where to file your motion to modify, you are strongly urged to talk to a lawyer.

If Alaska has jurisdiction to modify the child custody order, you need to register the out-of-state order in the Alaska court as a foreign order before modifying it. This is necessary so the Alaska court will recognize the foreign order as valid. After the order is registered in Alaska, you can file a motion to modify.

In general, if Alaska does not have jurisdiction over the children, you cannot modify your foreign custody order in the Alaska court. In that situation, you will have to return to the original state or perhaps go to an entirely new state to modify. Because there are exceptions and this is a very complicated area of law, you should talk to a lawyer to figure out where to file your motion to modify.


Rev. 4 January 2012
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www.courts.alaska.gov
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