Title 25 contains the Alaska laws about child custody matters. Within these laws, parents can find the necessary guidelines to create the best possible custody and visitation schedule for their child. It is important to know the guidelines and rules that are in the laws, especially as they apply to the custody schedule, because it can help getting a schedule accepted by the court. It also helps parents know the factors they should consider to make a schedule that fits the needs of their child. Here is an overview of some of the laws that parents need to know for their visitation schedule.
1. The best interest of the child. Section 25.24.150 Part c makes it clear that any custody decision should be made thinking about what is best for the child. This is especially true of the custody schedule. The schedule must be made to fulfill the needs of the child, and not be made based on the desires of the parents. Some of the factors that parents should think about as they make the schedule include: the mental, physical, emotional, religious, and social needs of the child; the relationship between the child and each parent; the capacity of each parent to encourage the child to spend time with the other parent; the child’s preference; how long the child has lived in the current environment; and if there has been any history of domestic violence or criminal behavior. By thinking about all of these, the parents can make the best possible custody schedule.
2. Grandparent and other visitation. Section 25.24.150 Part a explains that grandparents and other significant persons may be granted visitation to the child, if it is in the best interest of the child. Other people who may be granted visitation are step parents, siblings, and other family members. A grandparent or other person may petition the court for visitation, or they parents can work with the other family members to incorporate them into the visitation schedule. It’s very important that the child have the same contact with family that s/he had before. So, if the child was spending a lot of time with grandparents, that time shouldn’t suddenly be cut off. The child should still get to see grandma and grandpa.
3. Authority of the state court. Section 25.24.150 Part a gives authority to the court to make custody decisions. This means that the court can create a custody schedule or change the existing custody schedule at any time, and the parents must comply with what the court orders. Parents who are able to cooperate and create a visitation schedule together find that they need less interference and help from the court. The court will accept a schedule when both parents agree on it. And, the court will not change a schedule that both parents are happy with.