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
61 Questions Answered

Q. My granddaughter was taking from my daughter by OCS can I get her back
A: There's not enough information in your question to say more than "maybe," but that's usually the answer anyway. There is a possibility that your daughter could get the child returned to her if she agrees to a safety plan and follows through. Even if OCS keeps custody, they will give her a case plan, and if she follows that, they will return the child to her. In the mean time, you can ask to be the placement for your granddaughter. They're supposed to give preference to relatives. If they're unreasonable about any of this, you will probably need a lawyer to help you. If OCS keeps custody, your daughter needs to ask for a lawyer to be appointed for her as soon as possible. Your daughter can then tell the appointed attorney to pus for placement with you. If you have to hire your own lawyer, these cases can be difficult and drawn out, so it may be very expensive. If your daughter's lawyer isn't working with you, it would be worthwhile to at least consult with a lawyer to help you understand the system and how to deal with OCS and the court.
Q. I wish to move away from home w/o parental permission, will i be able to do so without being brought home?
A: Generally, emancipation is the legal path that gives you the ability to do what you intend. It does require parental consent with some exceptions. There are a few alternatives, such as specific emancipation and guardianship. Alaska Youth Advocates has a handbook that goes through all the options: The Bar Association also has an excellent Youth Law Guide, which covers many other topics that may be useful to you: Aside from all that, at 17, your parents have limited tools to make you return home. They can report you as a runaway, and the police could return you home, but they can't make you stay there. It's also unlikely to be a priority for the police if you're in a safe place and aren't truant. If there has been abuse, the police are required to take you to a shelter if you request it. With that in mind, the best alternative is to work out an agreement with your parents. If you have thought things through as carefully as your question seems to indicate, and you're doing well at school and work, you are in a strong bargaining position. If the conversation would be too difficult on your own, you could ask your parents to work with a trusted person from church, a mutual adult friend, or a professional mediator. Here's one place to look: Alaska Youth Advocates may also be able to refer you to a good person to help.
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. 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. 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. My boyfriend is an addict with a history of domestic violence in previous relationship. Can I take our 2 kids and leave?
A: If you have no court order governing custody, you can do whatever is reasonable under the circumstances. However the father has equal rights, so you will need to get a court order. If there has been domestic violence, then you should get a restraining order. This is something you can do without a lawyer, as the courts have a simplified process for that type of case. There are forms for you to use and the court clerks are generally very helpful. The DV court can grant custody if it seems appropriate. However, you should be aware that the father can file a custody case and get a more thorough review of the custody decision. As long as everything you do is to protect and provide for the children, and you don't appear to just be trying to cut the kids off from their father, you should be ok. If you get custody under a DV restraining order, you should make some efforts to set up visitation with the father. If it would only be safe if supervised, then ask the court to order supervised visitation.
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. Can I leave Alaska with my 2 month old child if not legally married?
A: There is nothing to prevent you from moving, if that's what you need to do. Just do it in a way that respects the father's rights. The best practice is to file a custody case before you go, and get interim approval from the court for your move. If you don't have the resources to do that, then move now and file for custody once you're settled. You should give the father your new contact info as soon as you can, and try to make it easy for him to visit as much as the distance will allow. This is important, because you don't want it to look like you left for the sole purpose of cutting him of from the child. If you don't file to get a custody order, the father probably will. If you can't afford a lawyer to help you with that, you can ask the court to order the father to pay some or all of your attorneys' fees. If either of you files before the child has been in the new state for six months, Alaska will probably have jurisdiction to make the custody determination.
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.
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Otterson Law & Mediation, P.C.
425 G St
Anchorage, AK 99501
Telephone: (907) 868-5050