Alaska Child Support Laws

Establishing Alaska Child Support: Child support in Alaska is awarded pursuant to Civil Rule 90.3 of the Alaska Rules of Civil Procedure . The primary purpose of the Rule is to ensure that child support orders are adequate to meet the needs of children, subject to the ability of parents to pay. Rule 90.3 also promotes consistent child support awards, simplifies and makes more predictable the process of determining support and brings Alaska courts into compliance with federal law.

Alaska child support can be established through a court order issued pursuant to a divorce or custody case. If there is no such court order, child support can be established by administrative order through the Child Support Services Division (CSSD) . If child support is awarded by court order, payment can be made directly to the parent or through CSSD. If CSSD establishes the administrative child support order, it is usually paid through CSSD.

The official Child Support Guidelines contained in Rule 90.3 are presumed to be correct and rarely deviated from, even if the parties are in agreement, unless there is a showing by clear and convincing evidence that manifest injustice would result if the support award were not varied. Factors the court will consider are

  • Especially large family size;
  • Significant income of the child;
  •  Divided custody order;
  • Health or other extraordinary expenses;
  • Unusually low expenses;
  • The parent with the child support obligation has an income below the Federal poverty level; and
  • Any other unusual circumstances.

If other unusual factors exist, at it's discretion, the court may also consider other circumstances such as the agreement of the parents, prior and subsequent debts of the paying parent, income of a new spouse (either of the paying or payee spouse), and the age of the children when determining whether to allow a variation in child support.

Understanding Alaska Child Support Standards : Alaska's Rule 90.3 employs the "percentage of income' approach and is applied differently depending on what level of custody the paying parent has, primary, shared, divided or hybrid:
  • Primary Physical Custody: if the children reside with the paying parent according to a custody order less than 30% of the year or less than 110 overnights per year;
  • Shared Physical Custody: if the children reside with a the paying parent according to a custody order at least 30% but not more than 70% of the year;
  • Divided Custody: (or Split Custody) if one parent has primary physical custody of on or more of the children and the other parent has primary physical custody of one or more of the other children and the parents do not share physical custody of any of the children;
  • Hybrid Custody: if at least one parent has primary physical custody of one or more of the children and the parents have shared custody of at least one child.

Primary Custody and Child Support : Child support under an order of primary physical custody is determined by calculating the paying parent's Adjusted Annual Income (AAI) (gross income, which includes wages before taxes, employer-provided food/housing/car etc, minus deductions such as taxes, union dues, mandatory retirement contributions, and voluntary retirement contributions up to 7.5% of gross wages)

If the AAI of the paying parent is $100,000 or less, multiply the AAI by 20% for one child, 27% for two children, 33% for three children and an extra 3% for each additional child to calculate the child support award.

If the paying parent has an adjusted annual income greater than $100,000, support will be awarded on an adjusted annual income of $100,000 and the court will make an additional award on the income above $100,000 that it deems just and proper.

Shared Physical Custody and Child Support : Child support under an order for shared physical custody is determined by calculating the AAI for each parent and multiplying each parent's AAI by the appropriate percentage, based upon the number of children (see above).

The next step is to determine what percentage of time each parent will have custody of the children. For purposes of calculating this percentage, a day of visitation requires the children remaining overnight with the parent, subject to review of the court. The level of support calculated for each parent is then multiplied by the percentage of time they have custody of the children. The resulting figure for the payee parent is then subtracted from the figure of the paying parent to arrive at the amount of support owed by the paying parent.

A paying parent who does not actually exercise shared physical custody, but receives the benefit by a reduction in their share of support may see the court modify the child support order in line with primary physical custody.

Divided and Hybrid Custody use different calculations. For examples of calculations of all four types of custody, see How to Calculate Child Support in footnote 3 above.

Minimum Child Support Amount: Generally, the paying parent will be obligated to pay a minimum of $50.00 per month in Alaska child support, regardless of the outcome of the above calculations.

Health Insurance and Child Support: Under Alaska statute and court rule, the court first must consider whether the children are eligible for health benefits or the Indian Health Service before including a medical support order as part of the child support order. The court can order one party to purchase health insurance for the children, if a plan is available at a reasonable cost. The cost is to be shared equally by the parties, unless good cause is shown why sharing the cost would be unfair, and will adjust paid support up or down.

Uninsured or Non-covered Medical Expenses: Rule 90.3(d)(2) provides that health care costs (including medical, dental, vision and mental health care) not covered by health insurance will be shared equally (without a showing of good cause why the costs should be shared differently) up to $5,000 per year. Any costs above $5,000 per year will be allocated based upon the parties' financial circumstances.

Child Care Costs and Child Support: Reasonable child care costs for children who are subject to the support order and are necessary to enable a parent to work or receive education which will improve employment opportunities may be deducted from support.

Modification of Alaska Child Support: Alaska law allows the modification of support orders upon a material change in circumstances. Under Rule 90.3(h), a material change in circumstances will be presumed whenever the change would result in an increase or decrease of support under the rule of at least 15%. A change in the parenting schedule which changes the level of custody may also be considered a material change in circumstances, as would a significant change in health insurance costs. Generally, any modification can only be applied to future support and cannot be applied retroactively.

Parents can seek assistance in applying for a modification through an attorney or through the Alaska Child Support Services Division (CSSD).

Support of Subsequent Children: Prior child support payments made pursuant to a court order are deductible when calculating Adjusted Annual Income in a current action for child support.

Conversely, if the paying party has children subsequent to a child support order, the legal obligation to support subsequent children will generally not constitute good cause to vary child support guidelines and reduce an existing child support order. The court may only reduce child support if the failure to do so would cause substantial hardship to the subsequent children.

Enforcement of Alaska Child Support: Enforcement of child support orders is made through the Alaska Child Support Services Division (CSSD), whether the child support was awarded as part of a court order or an administrative order through CSSD.

To collect support payments, CSSD will issue orders to withhold and deliver income or other property. Any of the non-custodial parent's property, including wages, commissions, retirement checks, bank accounts, stock dividends, income-producing property such as rentals, can be subject to withholding. However, most orders are issued against wages, where an employer is ordered to automatically withhold a non-custodial parent's wages and send the money to the CSSD, who will forward it to the custodial parent.

Interstate Child Support and Alaska: The CSSD Interstate Section works on child support cases in which the noncustodial parent lives outside of Alaska. This unit works with the child support services office of the state where the non-custodial parent lives in collecting support.

Alaska cooperates with all other states pursuant to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act to ensure only one valid child support order is in place.

Emancipation: In Alaska, the age of emancipation, when the parents are freed from any further support obligations, occurs when the child turns eighteen, or nineteen, if the child is enrolled in high school and is residing with the custodial parent.

Tax Exemptions: Under a law in Alaska the court may not grant a noncustodial parent an absolute right to claim children as dependents under federal income tax laws. The court may award this exemption to the noncustodial parent in a particular tax year if that parent satisfies the requirements of federal law and is not behind in child support payments by more than four times the monthly support obligation.

Seasonal Income: In Alaska, seasonal employment is common. Rule 90.3 allows courts the flexibility to allow unequal monthly payments, as long as the total annual amount equals the amount calculated for total annual support. The court order must specify the annual support amount, the average monthly support amount, and the amount due for each month.

Alaska Law Links

Click Here for Alaska Message Board