Fayetteville Child Custody Lawyer
A divorce brings many changes to your family’s daily lives. For divorcing spouses who are also parents, the biggest and most important change is the alteration in your family’s custody arrangements. Where will your child live? How often will you get to see them? And how will those decisions be made?
No parent wants to be separated from their precious son or daughter, and as a result, custody matters often give rise to heated and contentious disagreements. Custody disputes can be challenging to resolve, but you don’t have to go through the process alone. The skilled Fayetteville custody attorneys of Gunn Kieklak Dennis will fight hard to keep you and your child together.
Family Law Lawyers Handling Child Custody Disputes in Fayetteville
The family law attorneys of Gunn Kieklak Dennis have over 20 years of legal experience handling custody disputes in communities throughout Northwestern Arkansas, including but not limited to Bentonville, Rogers, Fayetteville, Bella Vista, Fort Smith, and Springdale. Whether you need help modifying an existing custody order, are being denied visitation by the custodial parent, are concerned that your former spouse is an unfit parent, or simply have questions about how custody determinations work in Arkansas, you can turn to our knowledgeable legal team to answer your questions, handle your paperwork, and provide you with aggressive legal representation.
While each case is unique, our goal never changes: guarding your parental rights. We are tough and innovative courtroom opponents who will do everything in our power to preserve and protect your relationship with your daughter or son. Call our law offices at 479-439-9840 to schedule a completely confidential legal consultation today.
What Are the Different Types of Child Custody for Parents?
Many people think of custody as a synonym for their child’s living arrangements. However, physical custody is only one half of a family’s overall custody plan. There are actually two forms of custody which must be considered, with several custodial arrangements possible within each. Types of custody in Arkansas include:
- Physical Custody – Physical custody refers to where the child will reside the majority of his or her time.
- Legal Custody – Legal custody refers to parental authority when making important life decisions on a minor child’s behalf. Education, healthcare, religion, marriage, and military service are a few examples of matters which can fall under the category of legal custody.
- Joint Custody – Joint custody means that both parents share responsibilities roughly equally. For example, if the parents have joint legal custody, both mother and father will share in the decision-making process on their child’s behalf.
- Sole Custody – Sole custody means custody that is awarded to one parent. Even if one parent is granted sole physical custody, the non-custodial parent is still generally entitled to limited visitation unless his or her parental rights are terminated due to child abuse or other issues that jeopardize the child’s welfare.
How is Custody Determined in an Arkansas Divorce Case?
You and your spouse will have the opportunity to determine your own custody arrangements. If you are able to create a mutually acceptable plan which complies with state laws and works in your child’s best interests, it is likely to be approved by the courts. However, if you are unable to make a decision or resolve a dispute on your own, it will become necessary for the courts to intervene.
Arkansas’ family courts consider a long list of factors when determining which sort of custody arrangement is most appropriate for a given family, including but not limited to the following:
- The child’s personal preference, provided he or she is capable of making an informed decision.
- Each parent’s income level and ability to provide financially for the child.
- Each parent’s physical and mental health.
- How frequently each parent is away from home due to work.
- Whether either parent has a criminal history, particularly a felony record or prior convictions related to domestic violence, child abuse, child kidnapping, or similar offenses.
- Whether either parent is addicted to drugs or alcohol.
- The relationship between the parents and their ability to work together for the good of the child.
While these and many other variables go into every custody decision, one criteria is more important the rest: protection of the child’s best interests. As provided by Ark. Code Ann. § 9-13-101, “In an action for divorce, the award of custody of a child of the marriage shall be made without regard to the sex of a parent but solely in accordance with the welfare and best interest of the child.”
Family courts may grant joint custody in situations where both parents are willing and able to work amicably together to raise, nurture, and spend time with their child. However, preservation of the child’s health and safety ultimately comes first when making a custody plan. Regardless of the parents’ or even child’s personal preferences, the courts will not grant a custody arrangement that in any way endangers the child or is detrimental to his or her quality of life.
Contact an Experienced Arkansas Family Law Attorney Today
If you need help settling a custody dispute in Fayetteville or the surrounding communities, you can rely on the experienced Arkansas custody attorneys of Gunn Kieklak Dennis for assistance. To start reviewing your case in a confidential legal consultation, call our law offices right away at 479-439-9840.