Virginia Beach, VA asked in Child Custody for Alaska

Q: If I die does my son’s father automatically get custody?

My son and I left Alaska when he was less than a year old, and his father hasn’t seen him since. They Skype, and he follows his child support order. We have joint legal custody and I have primary physical custody. My son is now 7, and I want to know if his grandmother has any rights to him, or if the courts will automatically award custody to his father.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Stefan Otterson
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  • Divorce Lawyer
  • Anchorage, AK
  • Licensed in Alaska

A: Yes.

It's not even clear that any action by the court would be needed. He was already able to exercise legal custody, and after your death, he would have the clear right to physical custody.

Grandparents would have no right to custody, though they could ask for visitation if the father unreasonably denied it, to the detriment of the child. Grandparents could also ask for custody, but they would not succeed unless they could prove the father represents a clear danger to the child due to a history of child abuse or neglect, severe substance abuse, or something like that. It's very very difficult for a third party to remove custody from a parent.

The only way to prevent the above from happening would be for a step-parent to adopt the child (while you are still living). That would require proper notice to the father.

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