Asked in Child Custody and Family Law for Alaska

Q: The father of my child fled the state of Maine to Alaska. We had an agreement that she could go visit him for the summer

She had a round trip ticket. He didn’t send her home and filed for full custody first. Will the judge look at him as unfit for the child involved because of his impulsive choices? We have never had an issue with sharing our child or anything through the courts

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

A: It sounds like you do not have a custody order in any state, and you had an informal agreement. Yes, violation of a well documented agreement might weigh against the parent who violates it, especially if it creates anxiety for the child, who may not now know where she will be living from one day to the next. However, that will only be one of many factors. But before you even get into that, you need to think about what state has jurisdiction to hear a custody dispute. Who files first doesn't determine that. I believe Maine and Alaska have similar laws on jurisdiction. (Consult a lawyer licensed in Maine about that.) Generally, a child must have lived in a state for six months (not counting temporary absences) before a state can exercise custody jurisdiction. If you want the court in Maine to handle this, you may need to file a custody case immediately. Jurisdiction can be a complicated area of the law (for example, what constitutes a "temporary absence"). There are several other variables, so you'll definitely need to consult with a Maine attorney about how to assert jurisdiction in Maine, and how to respond to the father's objections.

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