What to Know About Alaska Child Support?
In 2018, Alaska had one of the highest divorce rates in America. Statistics on how many of those couples had children at the time of their divorce aren’t clear. However, a 2019 study found that Alaska’s most searched phrase relating to divorce was “child custody.”
Going through a divorce is difficult. Coping with emotional stressors while also parsing out legal ownership of property is difficult enough. For many couples, helping their children cope with this major life change while also determining issues of custody and child support is the hardest part of a divorce.
We get many questions about Alaska child support. Each state has its own laws and determinations dictating who is required to pay child support and how much they must pay.
Read on for our guide to Alaska child support so you can navigate this difficult time knowledgeably and focus on what is best for your children.
The Basics of Alaska Child Support
Both state and federal laws state that child support is not optional, nor can it be waived. Ultimately, these laws are in place to ensure that every child of divorce is taken care of to the best of both parents’ abilities.
The first thing you and your former partner will need to decide upon is a parenting plan. While this plan will eventually be codified by law, it should begin with an open and honest reflection of both parents’ desires and availability as well as the child’s needs. While some couples are able to figure this out between the two of them, others may request the help of a mediator.
There are two distinct components to a parenting plan.
The first is the parenting schedule. This includes the days and times that a child will be with each parent. It also includes decisions about who will provide transportation of the child and who will fund that transportation.
The second is the decision making. In other words, parents will need to decide who has the responsibility of making major decisions regarding health, education, and social issues for the child. Some parents decide to make these decisions together while others agree that one parent will have more (or all) of that deciding power.
Once the parents have decided on a parenting plan, the judge in charge of their case will weigh in and make the final decision. The judge will consider a number of factors relating to the child’s best interest. These factors range from the love and affection between the child and each parent to the ability each parent has to meet the child’s needs.
Four Types of Legal Parenting Schedules in Alaska
The court will use one of four terms to describe a legally agreed-upon parenting schedule. The one you and your partner settle on will affect the amount of child support you will pay.
- Primary physical custody entails that one parent has the child more than 70% of the year. That means that in one year, one parent will have the child for at least 256 overnights.
- Shared physical custody entails that the child is with each parent for at least 30% of the year. That means each parent would have the child for at least 110 overnights.
- Divided custody applies when the parents have more than one child together. It is considered divided custody when one parent has primary custody of one child and the other parent has primary custody of another child.
- Hybrid custody also applies when the parents have more than one child together. It entails that while one parent may have primary custody of one child, shared custody applies to one or more of their other children.
What if One Parent is Moving Out of State?
In some cases, one parent may want to move to a new state. This will affect the judge’s decision about the legal parenting schedule.
Let’s look at an example. Say you and your partner have raised your child in Alaska for the child’s entire life and one parent wants to leave Alaska. The judge may decide that the parent staying in Alaska will receive primary custody if continuity and stability are deemed important factors in the child’s life.
However, if the moving parent had a credible case for bringing the child with them, the judge would examine the reasons behind their choice to move. They would look for reasons that the move was legitimate. For example, if the parent was moving for the sake of a promotion or to access better childcare for the child, the judge may rule in favor of that parent.
The parent paying child custody would be held to the laws the child is living in. In other words, if the child moved to or remained in Alaska, the parent would abide by Alaska child custody laws regardless of their own place of living.
In the event that you and your former spouse will no longer be living in the same state, prepare your child for the absence of a parent. The more you communicate with them, the easier it will be for them to understand why this change has occurred and adjust to their new circumstances!
How is Child Support Calculated?
When you’re calculating child support, you will always start with this basic formula: Gross Income – Deductions = Adjusted Income
Further along, we will discuss the various expenses that count as deductions in this case. For now, let’s talk at length about the way your Adjusted Income (or AI) relates to the different Alaska child support payments.
The most straightforward child support calculation is in the case of primary custody. The non-custodial will be expected to pay the following:
- 1 kid: AI x 20%
- 2 kids: AI x 27%
- 3 kids: AI x 33%
If you have more than 3 kids, add an additional 3% for each child.
Because child support calculations are more complicated in the case of shared, divided, or hybrid custody, we will link you to an Alaska child support calculator for each one. These calculations will vary based on the separate incomes of both you and your former spouse. They will also vary based on the length of time you each care for your child or children.
- Calculate shared custody child support here.
- Calculate divided custody child support here.
- Calculate hybrid custody child support here.
How Much Child Support Do I Owe?
In the state of Alaska, child support payments are to be made once a month. In other words, you will need to divide the percentage of your AI that you owe for child support by 12. This will show you the amount you owe in monthly installments.
Alaska child support laws determine that child support is due until the child is 19 years of age in certain circumstances. If the child is still in high school or is living with their custodial parent and unmarried at age 18, child support is still due until their 19th birthday.
We know that there are some months where bills and other expenses pile up. As much as parents want to make every child support payment on time, it doesn’t always happen. Note that in Alaska, you can be charged up to 6% interest on late child support payments.
What is Deductible from My Gross Annual Income?
Calculating your AI can be a bit confusing. Let’s talk a bit about what counts as your Gross Annual Income and what expenses or payments you can deduct from that.
Your Gross Annual Income includes wages and disability pay. It also includes SSDI, unemployment, and work benefits such as meals or housing. Finally, it includes any non-taxable benefits you may receive from the military or similar organization.
Now let’s talk a bit about what you can deduct from your Gross Annual Income. Because this can get a bit confusing, it can be helpful to work with a lawyer or mediator to figure out not only what your deductibles are but how much of your Gross Annual Income they account for.
The list of deductible income includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Federal taxes that are owed
- State unemployment insurance
- Medicare and Social Security
- Mandatory and voluntary retirement contributions
- Childcare paid for the child or children in question that you cover so that you can work
- Child support you owe for a child from a previous relationship
Note that this list does not include all deductibles but rather the most commonly cited deductibles.
If you are paying child support for a child living in Alaska but you live in another state, record the taxes you pay. This includes state and local taxes and these are also deductible.
Focus On Your Child’s Needs
Getting through a divorce and figuring out Alaska child support laws can be difficult. Remember, as you go through this process, that things will reach a new normal soon and that this stress is only temporary. In the meantime, focus as much of your attention as you can on your child’s needs.