When parents undergo a divorce in Alaska, sometimes it is in the child’s best interests to be in the custody of a grandparent or grandparents, rather than with one or the other parent. However, what do you do if you believe that the court has made a decision on the custody of your grandchild that you believe should be reviewed or altered?

It is not uncommon for parents to file a motion in contest of a custody or visitation decision made by the court at the time the divorce was finalized. You can also appeal to the court as a grandparent, but you must follow a different process than what parents follow.

Filing the appropriate forms

In order to be heard as a party to the custody and visitation arrangements of your grandchildren, the Alaska Court System instructs that you must file two forms: the SHC-1141 Proposed Order on Motion to Join for Purpose of Grandparent Visitation, and the SHC-1140 Motion & Affidavit to Join for Purpose of Grandparent Visitation. Once you have joined the custody case, the steps you follow differ depending on whether you seek to influence the current custody hearing or to contest a decision that has already been made.

Regardless of whether you aim to influence a pending decision or alter a past decision, you will need to file the SHC-1143 form, known as a Proposed Order on Motion for Grandparent Visitation. However, in order to appeal a previous custody decision, you must file a specific form known as the SHC-1144 Motion & Affidavit for Grandparent Visitation (post-judgment).

This article is intended to inform you of the process for grandparents to appeal a custody decision, and should not be construed as legal advice.