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When Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live with in Alaska?


Parenting as a divorced or separated dad in Alaska can be challenging. You will need to work out a suitable child arrangement for you and your family. There are a lot of specific issues that must be addressed and resolved. You may be wondering: When does a child get to decide which parent they live with? While a child never gets to make the final decision unilaterally, Alaska allows older and more mature children to give input as to their preferences. Here, our Alaska child custody lawyers highlight the key points about when a child can decide which parent to live with. 

Background: Alaska Uses the Best Interests of the Child Standard

First and foremost, fathers must understand how the custody laws work in Alaska. Under Alaska law (AS 25.24.150), courts must make decisions in custody cases that are in the “best interests of the child.” In other words, courts must make a custody determination that is consistent with what is best for the child’s health, safety, and emotional well-being. It is a legal framework that assesses various factors such as the child’s needs, the parent’s ability to meet these needs, the quality of the child’s relationship with each parent, and when they are old enough, the child’s preference. 

Older Kids are Permitted to Give Input On Preferred Custody/Visitation Arrangement

Alaska law recognizes the importance of considering children’s preferences in custody and visitation matters, particularly as they grow older. Some states have a specific age at which a child is presumed to be old enough to provide input. However, Alaska does not. While there is no specific age at which a child can decide outright, judges often give considerable weight to the wishes of sufficiently mature children. Most often, children will be permitted to provide their preference—if they choose to do so—around the age of 13. The child never gets to make the final choice on living arrangements in an Alaska custody case. Instead, the child’s input is one of many factors considered. Still, it is a very important factor. 

The Bottom Line: A minor cannot decide which parent he or she lives with. However, older children—usually starting around 13—are permitted to provide input. A child’s preference is one factor in a custody case. However, it is a factor that will receive substantial weight—especially if a child is an older teenager who is mature enough to provide reasoning. 

Contact Our Alaska Child Custody Attorney for a Confidential Consultation

At Family Law Center for Men, our Alaska child custody lawyers are skilled, experienced advocates for fathers. If you have any questions about when a child can choose the parent they live with, we are here as a legal resource. Contact us today to arrange your strictly private initial consultation. With an office in Anchorage, we provide child custody representation to men throughout Alaska.