In Alaska, the law allows parents to request a modification of an existing child custody order only under certain circumstances. According to the Alaska Court System, there must have been a change since the judge issued the original order, and that change makes the old plan less than ideal. 

If parents agree to the order, they can file a Motion to Modify, and the request is free. If one parent contests the modification, then there is a filing fee, and the parent making the request must be able to show that the new plan is in the child’s best interests. 

Alaska Statute 25.24.150(c) states that the court uses the following criteria to determine whether something is in the child’s best interests. 

The needs of the child 

This includes not only physical needs, but also mental, emotional, social and religious needs. For example, if someone at the child’s school is bullying him or her and causing significant emotional distress, a father may want to make the case that the child would have his or her needs met more effectively if he or she lived primarily with him and attended the school in his district. 

The child’s preference 

The judge has the authority to determine whether the child is old enough and mature enough to express a preference, but he or she will typically take the child’s wishes into consideration. 

Factors involving the parents 

If a father wants the child to come live with him, he should prepare to show that he has the ability and desire to meet his child’s needs and that he and the child have a loving and affectionate relationship. He should also indicate his history of and willingness to continue helping the child to maintain a healthy relationship with the other parent. 

The courts take any issues of domestic violence, sexual assault, substance abuse, child abuse and neglect seriously, so evidence of these would warrant an immediate change.