Fayetteville, AR 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? If you are in the midst of a serious child custody matter, you should work with an experienced Fayetteville child custody lawyer as soon as possible.
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. At Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP, we are committed to providing parents with the legal representation they deserve when fighting for custody of their child. Custody disputes can be challenging to resolve, but you don’t have to go through the process alone. The skilled Fayetteville child custody attorneys of Gunn Kieklak Dennis will fight hard to keep you and your child together. Call (479) 439-9840 to schedule your confidential legal consultation today. You may also contact the firm online to schedule your free legal consultation.
Should You Hire a Lawyer for Child Custody Disputes in Fayetteville?
The Fayetteville, AR child custody attorneys of Gunn Kieklak Dennis have over 20 years of legal experience handling custody disputes in communities throughout Fayetteville, AR. 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) 717-9068 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 that must be considered, with several custodial arrangements possible within each. Types of custody you can file as a Fayetteville resident 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 Child Custody Determined in Fayetteville?
You and your spouse will have the opportunity to determine your own custody arrangements. When creating a custody agreement, you should be sure that your custody arrangement has considered all the important details. If you are unfamiliar with drafting a custody agreement, it would be wise to consult an experienced Fayetteville, AR child custody attorney. At Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP, we could help you explore your legal options and determine whether you should bring your child custody matter to court.
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. For example, if one parent decides to voluntarily violate the terms of the custody agreement, this may be a matter that you will need to resolve through the courts.
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 criterion is more important than the rest: protection of the child’s best interests. Decades ago, the State of Arkansas followed the “Tender Years” doctrine to help determine custody matters between parents. The Tender Years doctrine stated that the best interests of a child would be to live with his or her mother until they reach a particular age. However, the state has changed the way they handle child custody matters between parents.
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 children. However, the preservation of the child’s health and safety ultimately comes first when making a custody plan. Regardless of the parents’ or even the 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.
Common Issues in Child Custody Cases in Fayetteville, AR
Child custody cases are a sensitive matter for parents and children involved in the process. Some parents hope to gain sole custody of a child, while others seek to have a relationship with the child’s partner so they could share custody. Whether you wish to file for sole or joint custody, there are certain actions that could hurt the validity of your case.
Failing to Spend Time with Your Child
If you want to ensure that you prevail in your child custody case, you will need valid grounds to support your case. A parent that does not spend time with their children is less likely to be awarded sole or legal custody of a child. For example, if a parent is not involved with caring for their child, feeding their child, or other essential activities, this could affect the court’s decision on whether a person would be a good parent. As a result, you should spend time with your child and consider documenting the number of days you have custody of your child as it could be used as evidence for your case.
Avoid Hostile Communications with Parent of Your Child
As a parent, one of the worst mistakes you could make when fighting for child custody is to engage in petty or hostile disputes with the parent of your child. Every parent should be aware that the following types of communications could be used against them as evidence in a child custody case:
- Threatening phone calls
- Hostile text messages
- Negative voicemails
- Making derogatory social media posts about the other parent, the judge, or the court process
Our firm understands that the child custody process could be extremely stressful, but you should never use this as an excuse to berate the other party or the court process, especially when it could be easy to record these communications.
Additionally, if you vented your frustrations about the child custody process to family or friends, you should also ensure that they do not engage in posting negative social media messages or sending messages directly to the parent of your child.
Alternatively, if you have received threatening messages from the parent of your child during a custody hearing, you should show these communications to an experienced Fayetteville child attorney as soon as possible. Our firm could utilize negative communications from the parent of your child in order to show the court that you would be a better fit to have custody of your children.
Do Not Frustrate Other Parent’s Relationship with the Children
Many parents make the mistake of intentionally trying to frustrate the other parent’s relationship with their child. For example, some parents may try to keep the other parent from visiting the child or may seek to influence the child to believe the other parent is a bad person. Using a child to exact revenge on a parent could reflect negatively on your case if the other party is able to prove their claims. As a result, you should avoid criticizing the parent of your child in the presence of your child.
Losing Your Temper in Court
Once you are at a hearing for custody of your child, you should ensure that you listen to the instructions of your attorney and remain in control of your emotions. If you openly display rage in front of the court and your child, the court may use this as a factor when considering whether you are fit to retain custody of your children. You should avoid any unwarranted outbursts and calmly answer questions asked by the court.
Additionally, you should also be sure to avoid losing your temper in front of others that have a relationship with your child. For instance, if a teacher believes that you harshly disciplined your child, this incident may come up while you are trying to seek custody of the child.
Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP, is here to help you fight for custody of your child.
Contact an Experienced Fayetteville, AR Child Custody Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case
If you need help settling a custody dispute in Fayetteville or the surrounding communities, you can rely on the experienced Fayetteville, AR child 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. You could also schedule a free case review with one of our skilled Fayetteville, AR family law attorneys today.