Stefan Otterson
  • Family Law, Arbitration & Mediation, Divorce...
  • Alaska
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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
  • Credit Cards Accepted
Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice
  • French: Written
  • German: Spoken, Written
Professional Experience
University of Utah
MBA (1988)
Honors: Wm & Opal Fields Scholarship
The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law
J.D. (1988)
University of Utah
B.A. (1984) | English with writing emphasis, German minor
Honors: Summa Cum Laude
Activities: Graduation speaker, Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi
Professional Associations
Alaska State Bar # 8811198
Alaska Association of Collaborative Professionals
- Current
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
Stefan Otterson's Website Profile
Otterson Law & Mediation, P.C. Website
Legal Answers
64 Questions Answered

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.
Q. Ex wife and I share 50/50 custody. She sent the kids out of state without my permission. Is there anything I can do?
A: It depends on whether you're talking about a long-term or short-term trip out of state. If it's long term, then she isn't allowing you to have the children 50% of the time, and you can file a motion to enforce the shared custody. If it's a short term trip during her time, it depends on what the custody order says about out of state travel. If she's violating a provision of the order then you can file a motion to enforce that provision. If the order is silent, then you can't complain unless she's impinging on your custody time.
Q. How can we move out of state with a 50/50 custody plan? I am the mother with a significant other. I have no family here.
A: When you say we, I assume you mean you want to take the children with you, but the father would stay here. Unless you have an unusual custody schedule, you won't be able to follow it after you leave. That means you need either an agreement to change the schedule (and the custody percentage) or a court order. Preferably you would reach an agreement and then submit it to the court to have it reduced to an order. If you are not able to agree, then you'll have to file a Motion to Modify Custody and the court will decide which parent the children stay with during the school year (assuming they're all school age). Normally the other parent will then have most of the summer and all the holiday periods they can arrange travel for. Whether by agreement or by court order, you should also clarify who is responsible for the costs of travel for visitation (or what percentage each pays).
Q. My ex and me hav 2 kids 9 months and a 2 year old. I’m planning to leave state he won’t allow me no and he agreed before
A: There's nothing to stop you from leaving. Both of you have equal rights, so there's nothing stopping him from leaving with the kids either. If you leave without working it out with him first, he can file for a custody order and ask the court to order the kids returned to Alaska. Alaska will have jurisdiction unless he waits at least 6 months before filing. Normally the court wouldn't remove the kids from the parent who had them 95% of the time, but if the way you left looks like you're trying to cut the other parent out, that might change the court's attitude. If you can't reach an agreement, you should at least propose a liberal visitation schedule for him and propose to share the travel costs, etc. Do whatever you can to show that you respect his role a parent and the kids' need to have a relationship with their dad.
Q. Ocs just overturned a substantiated finding of neglect. Can I now regain full custody as per the custody order?
A: This is a delicate area, in the sense that the consequences of a mis-step can be grave. I think any lawyer would hesitate to say yes or no without a thorough discussion of the facts and a review of the OCS paperwork. Even then, OCS can be unpredictable in how they interpret their actions and policies, so solid answers may be hard to get. The safest thing would be to hold of on bringing your daughter back to the home until you have a clear OK in writing from OCS.
Q. We signed our daughter over to my mother after ocs battle and my mother won't let us be apart of my daughters life.
A: Your rights depend on the paperwork you signed. If you agreed to a guardianship then the visitation provisions in the order can be enforced, or if there are no specifics, then visitation can be reviewed by the court at your request, and visitation provisions can be added. If you signed a relinquishment so that your daughter could be adopted, then there is no option for court review unless you specifically reserved visitation rights in the relinquishment you signed, and the court included those terms in the decree of adoption. If it is an adoption, you have no rights except those that are in print in that paperwork. If no rights are reserved then you just need to stay on good terms with your mother, because it's all up to her. If rights are reserved, you can petition the court to enforce them.
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Otterson Law & Mediation, P.C.
425 G St
Anchorage, AK 99501
Telephone: (907) 868-5050