Jonesboro Attorneys

How is Child Custody Determined in Arkansas?

When a married couple wishes to separate or divorce, their possessions will be split during the divorce process. However, one of the most precious possessions in nearly any divorce is custody of any children that have been involved in that divorce. Child custody is often one of the most hotly contested aspects of any separation, and one of the most difficult decisions a family court must give.

“Best Interests”

The ultimate deciding factor in any child custody case can be boiled down to one determination: the “best interests” of the child. The best interests of the child involve a number of different aspects of their livelihood, such as education, medical care, living conditions, parent character and more. The relationship between the parents themselves can even be a factor in which parent is ultimately given child custody.

The courts can consider a number of factors, including:

  • Which parent will provide the most continued contact with the other regarding the child?
  • Which parent is more likely to foster a caring environment of love and affection?
  • Does either spouse have any history of domestic abuse?
  • What is the character of the spouse requesting custody like? Do they have a history of alcohol abuse? Do they have a stable job? Do they have any criminal history?
  • What will the home environment be for the requesting parent?
  • Which parent can provide a more stable economic environment?
  • Which parent does the child prefer to live with?
  • In instance of multiple children, is it better to have them stay together or split them up?

Joint Custody

When parents can work together and cooperate on the growth and development of their children, they may be able to request joint custody from their judge. If granted, this essentially gives an equal share of parenting decisions on important issues such as education, healthcare and more to both parents, and creates provisions for allowing as close to equal visitation time for both parents.

Of course, this must also be in the best interests of the children. Just because two parents may agree to stay friendly after their divorce is not always in the best interests of their children, particularly when one parent relocates over a significant distance or has a major change in lifestyle that will have a substantial negative impact on their ability to perform their parental duties.

Contested Custody

When parents cannot come to an agreement as to who will get custody of their children in a divorce, their custody becomes contested and the court will make the final decision. Once again, this too is based on the best interests of the children. The court will use the factors listed earlier to determine ultimately which parent shall be given custody, and then assign a parenting plan, granting visitation to the non-custodial parent.

A final custody order is not necessarily final. Either party may request a change in their original decree by filing a petition with the court and paying a $50 fee to re-open their case.

When you are facing a divorce with children involved, it is extremely important that you retain the services of an experienced Jonesboro family attorney that can help you through the divorce process and fight on your behalf for the best interest of you and your children. A skilled legal representative will be familiar with the laws and codes surrounding child custody and can stand up for your desires and needs in divorce negotiations.

If you need assistance with child custody negotiations or representation in any form of family law matters, the experienced attorneys at The Law Office of Paul Ford may be able to help you. Our team has served the Jonesboro community for 30 years, and we work hard to protect the community by representing clients when they need assistance with the laws of our society. We place the health, safety, and well-being of your loved ones at the forefront of any legal case we take, and we work hard to ensure the best interests of all parties involved are looked after.

Call The Law Office of Paul Ford at (870) 853-3621 to request an initial consultation with our skilled Jonesboro family lawyers today.