Child custody can be a tough issue to deal with, especially when two parents have opposing viewpoints on what is best for a child. Fortunately, Arkansas has a comprehensive set of laws that could help parents and the court determine how child custody should be handled between two parents. If you are in a custody battle for your child, you should speak with an experienced Fayetteville child custody lawyer. At Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP, we understand the stress that comes with handling a sensitive topic like child custody, and we are here to help you find a desirable solution to your child custody problem. Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP is here to explain how child custody laws operate in Arkansas.
Arkansas Child Custody Laws
Child custody is an aspect of family law that often becomes an issue when two parents decide to divorce or if a couple had a child or multiple children while they were unmarried. In years past, Arkansas would tailor child custody laws in favor of a child’s mother instead of their father. In recent years, Arkansas has stepped away from this line of reasoning and has decided to consider the best interests of the child.
The best interests standard looks at various factors that are used to resolve child custody disputes. For example, if one parent typically cared for the child during a marriage, the court will likely lean towards awarding custody to that parent. Other factors that may be considered include:
- Whether a parent will attempt to estrange the child from the other parent or promote a healthy parenting partnership
- Whether one partner had difficulty holding down a job during the marriage
- The character of each parent
The court may also speak with a child to learn the wishes of the child. However, the court does not have to act based on the specific wishes of the child.
Forms of Child Custody
Generally, there are two forms of child custody that are routinely awarded by Arkansas courts: joint custody and primary physical custody. Joint custody gives each parent an equal amount of time with their children and permits each parent to have rights to make important decisions for their children regarding topics like healthcare and education. Joint custody will not be forced upon two parents but will be considered if the parents wish to have joint custody.
Primary physical custody is when a child lives with one parent while the other parent is given rights of visitation. A schedule for visitation rights can vary depending on each case. For example, if the parents cannot decide on a schedule for one parent to visit the child, the court may intervene and propose a schedule.
In Arkansas, when a child is born to a woman that is not married, the mother of the child will have legal custody of the child until the child reaches the age of 18. In some cases, the court may decide that the mother is not fit to have custody of the child. When this happens, the court may award custody to the father of the child or another close family member.
Relocation of a Child
When a parent that has custody of a child decides to relocate, there are several factors the court must consider to determine whether the child should be relocated as well. The court will look at the following factors when examining a parent relocation:
- The parent’s reason for relocating
- The noncustodial parent’s ability to see the child if they have visitation rights
- Whether the child will have access to adequate education and healthcare institutions, the child may need
- Whether the child has a preference regarding the location
- How the relocation will affect the child’s connection to family
If a parent has sole legal custody of a child, they may be entitled to receive child support. Child support is a monthly payment used to pay for various needs of the child. The amount and duration of child support will depend on the income of the other parent and the age of the child.
Our Arkansas Child Custody + Support Attorneys are Ready to Work with You
If you require legal assistance for your custody battle, contact an experienced Arkansas family law attorney. The family law attorneys at Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP have a wealth of experience dealing with a wide range of family law issues, and we are prepared to use this knowledge to represent you. Our firm is dedicated to ensuring that your child is placed in the best environment where they will thrive. To schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your case, contact Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP at (479) 717-9068, or contact us online.