As a divorcing parent, your split with your spouse will be tough for your children. If you two cannot agree on custody matters, it may become tough for you, too, in ways you did not expect. You may worry that you will receive limited access to your children once your divorce finalizes. Yet, this outcome is rare in Arkansas, save for extraordinary circumstances.
How custody works in Arkansas
In your divorce, Arkansas courts may presume joint legal custody to be in your children’s best interests. Legal custody determines whether you, your spouse or both of you will make decisions regarding your children. Since 2013, the state has considered joint physical custody in the children’s best interest as well. If a judge awards it, your children will live with you at designated times and your spouse at others. Keep in mind that your shares of physical custody may not be equal.
When ruling on custody, a judge will weigh a variety of factors, including:
- You and your spouse’s work obligations
- You and your spouse’s ability to meet your children’s needs
- Whether you and your spouse can cooperate about matters regarding your children
- Whether you or your spouse will best provide a stable home environment for your children
- Whether your children prefer to live with you or your spouse (depending on their maturity)
While Arkansas courts favor joint custody arrangements, you and your spouse must work to uphold your agreement. If either of you disrupt the other’s custodial time, your behavior may count as a material change in circumstances under the state’s laws. In this case, the parent affected by the disruption – whether you or your spouse – may receive primary custody. Furthermore, certain circumstances can warrant the awarding of primary legal or physical custody – or both. If you or your spouse have a history of domestic violence, substance abuse or criminal activity, these could keep you from receiving custody.
By understanding Arkansas’ custody laws, you can take steps to remain an active presence in your children’s lives. An attorney with family law experience can help you stand up for your parental rights.