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
63 Questions Answered

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.
Q. OCS took kids they are with family we have not been charged with anything yet. Can I leave the state to get this drop?
A: It's hard to tell from the limited details you give, but if OCS actually took your kids, then they have custody. You will probably be served with a Petition very soon. The OCS case does not require you to stay in the state, but you won't be able to take the children that OCS removed from your care. If you leave, it would make it much harder to get the kids back. When you talk about being charged, that sounds like a criminal case. That would be a completely separate court case from the OCS custody case. If there is a criminal case, it's possible there will be a requirement for you to stay in the state. Either type of case requires help from an attorney. You need lots of legal guidance from an attorney who has reviewed all the paperwork. As soon as you are served with the initial court documents you need to request court-appointed counsel. (If you earn too much, then you'll need to hire your own attorney.) Don't delay. The OCS case can move very quickly, and you need to be involved in every step along the way.
Q. Can I the mother with physical custody at this time leave the state of Alaska after filing for divorce
A: Once you've filed and a divorce case is pending, you usually need to get a written agreement from the other parent or court permission to leave the state. You should check the details of the standard order that is issued at the time the Complaint is filed. Different courts may have different provisions in that initial order.
Q. Can I the mother leave ak with my child then file divorced from another state
A: You are free to move wherever you want, as long as there's not already a divorce case pending. (To the extent it's safe, you should still provide whatever visitation you can with the other parent.) You will need to check the divorce jurisdiction law in the state you're moving to. There's a chance you won't be able to do the divorce there, especially if child custody and property issues still have to be dealt with in Alaska. Child custody jurisdiction generally requires the children to have lived in the new state at least 6 months (there may be an exception if you need an interim custody order quickly to protect against imminent threat of DV-you should check with a lawyer in the new state about that.)
Q. I live in alaska and parental rights where taken from me. Is there any way i can get my rights back.
A: The adoptive parent has exactly the same rights as a parent. As the biological parent, you have no more rights than any unrelated person. Your best bet is to work with the adoptive parent, so that she will voluntarily allow you to have visits. If that's not possible, you may have no recourse, as long as the adoptive parent is providing minimally adequate care.
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. 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. 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.
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Otterson Law & Mediation, P.C.
425 G St
Anchorage, AK 99501
Telephone: (907) 868-5050