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Stefan Otterson
  • Family Law, Arbitration & Mediation, Divorce...
  • Alaska
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Summary

Stefan Otterson has lived and practiced law in Anchorage since 1988. Stefan lived and worked in Europe for three years before attending the University of Utah, graduating suma cum laude in 1984. He received both an MBA and Law Degree from the University of Utah schools of Business and Law in 1988. Stefan started out in private commercial legal practice, but joined the Attorney General’s Office in 1990. There he was a child protection and juvenile delinquency prosecutor, and also represented the Divisions of Public Safety, Mental Health, and Medicaid. Since 2000 Stefan has practiced family law in courts all over Southcentral, Southwest and Northwest Alaska. Stefan is also trained in mediation and collaborative law, and has been a mediator for the court system, and a child advocate (guardian ad litem).

Practice Areas
  • Family Law
  • Arbitration & Mediation
  • Divorce
  • Juvenile Law
  • Appeals & Appellate
  • Domestic Violence
Additional Practice Areas
  • Adoption
  • Collaborative Law
  • Collaborative Divorce
  • Child Abuse & Neglect
  • OCS Relative Placement
Fees
  • Credit Cards Accepted
Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice
Alaska
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Languages
  • French: Written
  • German: Spoken, Written
Professional Experience
Otterson Law & Mediation, P.C.
Current
Education
University of Utah
MBA (1988)
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Honors: Wm & Opal Fields Scholarship
University of Utah Logo
The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law
J.D. (1988)
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The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law Logo
University of Utah
B.A. (1984) | English with writing emphasis, German minor
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Honors: Summa Cum Laude
Activities: Graduation speaker, Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi
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Professional Associations
Alaska State Bar # 8811198
Member
Current
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Alaska Association of Collaborative Professionals
Member
- Current
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Speaking Engagements
Adoptive Parent Training, Quarterly Adoptive Parent Workshops, Anchorage
Catholic Social Services
Legal portion of adoptive parent training
Adoptive Parent Training, Quarterly Adoptive Parent Workshops, Anchorage
Catholic Social Services
Legal portion of adoptive parent training
Websites & Blogs
Website
Stefan Otterson's Website Profile
Website
Otterson Law & Mediation, P.C. Website
Legal Answers
69 Questions Answered

Q. Can we move out of state with our child and have the cases transferred
A: More information is needed to answer you question. Child custody jurisdiction usually requires that you and the child reside in the new state for at least 6 months before that state can handle custody matters. However, that's not automatic, and if the other parent still resides in the original state and objects to transfer, then jurisdiction might stay in Alaska. If you have another hearing scheduled, that suggests that you may not have a final order, and if the case is still at the interim stage, there may be restrictions on leaving the state. Regardless of all that, you would need to be sure that moving wouldn't interfere with the other parent's scheduled visitation. A consult with a family lawyer would be a very good idea prior to making the move.
Q. My 19 month old was taken without notification an unfounded. How do I get her back now?!
A: Call OCS (269-4000 if you're in Anchorage). Give your child's name and ask to be connected with the assigned social worker. You'll probably get voicemail, so leave all your contact info and let him/her know you have not received notice. If you don't reach the social worker quickly, call again and ask for the worker's supervisor. Leave the same information with him/her. Next, go to the Children's Court desk. In Anchorage it's in the basement of the Nesbett Courthouse downtown (the one with the Totem Poles out front). Give them your child's name and birth date and ask if a Petition has been filed. If so, ask for a copy and the date and time of the next court date. Tell them you want to request appointment of an attorney. You'll have to fill out an application that requires financial information, so have that info with you. It'll take a while for the attorney appointment to be granted, and more time for the attorney to contact you, so spend that time trying to connect with the social worker. Be prepared to take all your documentation (UA results, etc.) to the social worker whenever they're available. This will take lots of time and energy, so clear your calendar and arrange whatever support you will need from family and friends. Think of all the resources you can use to reassure the social worker that you're clean and that your child will be safe. Be prepared to negotiate a safety plan with the social worker, if necessary. If that doesn't work, prepare to go to court with your court-appointed attorney.
Q. My husband works away from the home for weeks at a time and has left us how can I get him counseling so we dont divorce?
A: There really isn't any legal process you can use to prevent a divorce from happening or to force a spouse into counseling. If he does file a divorce complaint and custody is at issue, the court will sometimes order a party (more often both parties) to be evaluated, but that's only if there's evidence that your child's welfare is jeopardized by possible psychological disorders which have caused harmful behavior. The response you describe is appropriate, and it's probably the only way to address this situation. Stay positive and focused on building and maintaining healthy relationships with family and friends who may have influence or who may provide support if you have to go through some difficult times, whether or not a divorce happens. Remember that a divorce doesn't change the fact that you're both parents, and you'll have to cooperate on that for years to come. You may want to find an individual therapist for yourself, because anyone can benefit from professional help in this situation. Remember, right now this is a relationship problem, not a legal problem. You should also look at the Alaska Court System's Family Law Self Help Center online. They also have classes that cover the basics. Being prepared for the worst case scenario will reduce some of the normal fear people feel in your situation. That will make it easier to focus on yourself, your relationship, your friends and family, and the other real-life things in the present that really matter.
Q. OCS hasn't taken custody from me yet,but are going to. currently my mother has temp guardianship but ocs says that she
A: Your question is a good one, but there's no way to assess whether your mother would be a suitable placement based on the number of years since prior calls. It depends on what the prior calls were about, and whether OCS determined she had committed abuse or neglect, and what type. Also critical is what she has done since then to remedy any problems that OCS determined were valid. You can certainly sign a consent to guardianship and get your mother to ask the guardianship court to review all the OCS information and decide whether a long-term guardianship is appropriate. A court ruling like that might give OCS the reassurance they need.
Q. I would like to move out of AK, I am not married to the father. Can I take the child out of the State? Is it legal?
A: Yes, you can take the child out of state. Either parent can legally do that. Just be aware that without a custody order, the other parent can also legally come to the other state, pick the child up from school or daycare, and take the child back to Alaska. The fact that it's legal doesn't mean that it will look good to a judge who eventually has to decide custody. A judge has to consider everything, including whether your actions seem calculated to cut the other parent out. The best practice is to get a custody order before you go, with visitation etc. worked out in advance. That is something that can be done without an attorney. You should go to the Alaska court system's website, click the "Represent Yourself" button, and then click "Family Law Self Help Center." They have online forms and instructions, a phone line for basic questions, and periodic classes to help you file your own custody case.
Q. My parents are withholding my 2 children from me with only their Father’s consent is this legal? There is no court orde
A: A power of attorney from one parent doesn't affect the other parent's rights. You can still do anything you would do if you were dealing directly with the father instead of the grandparents. However, you need to be careful in taking children from someone who has been the primary caregiver. Whether justified or not, if you abruptly take the kids, it may generate a report to OCS. The best approach is to work with your parents so you don't have to force the issue.
Q. Can I request sole custody and not get child support? I don't want any money I can take care of us myself.
A: Whenever the court issues a child custody order, they issue a child support order. That part you can't get around, even by agreement, unless you are in a truly unique situation so that it wouldn't be reasonable to apply the normal rules. Just being able to take care of things yourself wouldn't do it. What you can do is not enforce the support that's ordered. You don't have to get CSSD involved. (That doesn't stop arrears from piling up, so the other parent would just have to trust that you won't seek to collect down the road.)
Q. If my 2 prior children were taken by ocs, and i have another child, will ocs automatically have rights to get involved?
A: First, OCS will only get involved if someone makes a report. If you have normal pre-natal care and are not under the influence of anything when you give birth, the hospital probably won't report. However, if your mother isn't convinced you're clean and sober she could file a report. If that might happen, you should collect all the documentation you'll need to show OCS you are in a different situation. Having a regular job and keeping up on your mortgage payments goes a long way, if you can prove it quickly--before they get too involved. As for visitation with your adopted kids, that depends on the relinquishment paperwork you signed to make the adoption possible. If you retained visitation privileges, then you have rights. If you didn't relinquish but the state terminated your parental rights without an agreement, then you have no visitation rights now.
Q. What age can a child say they dont want to go over to the other parents house in alaska?
A: A child never gets to make that choice, as it is an adult decision. If the parents don't agree, the court will consider the preference of a sufficiently mature child along with all the other factors. Preference alone is usually not the determinative factor. However from about age 14, the court will give it more weight if the child seems intelligent, mature, and has been making good decisions in other areas of his/her life.
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Contact & Map
Otterson Law & Mediation, P.C.
425 G St
#714
Anchorage, AK 99501
USA
Telephone: (907) 868-5050