According to Arkansas law, “…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.” When a judge is considering the best interest of a child, he or she is considering factors such as:
After the judge considers the above factors, he or she will determine the best type of custody for your situation. There are five types of custody.
If parents cannot work together to determine a “liberal” (the parents work together to decide when, where and how long the visitation takes place) custody agreement, then the court will designate a visitation schedule. A standard visitation schedule might be every other weekend, alternating holidays and an extended period during the summer. A visitation start date should be included in the order. Just as the custody is determined by the best interest of the child, so is the visitation schedule.
After the custody, visitation and child support are determined by the courts and a party is not doing what he or she is required to do, the other party can petition the court by filing a contempt action. The party filing must prove the other parent did not follow what the courts set forth. If the judge agrees with the contempt charge, it is up to him or her to make the party obey.
Modifications to a custody agreement can be made if the party asking can prove a substantial and material change in circumstance. What is considered a substantial and material change in circumstance is vague by definition. The individual factors depend on the state and the judge’s discretion. Examples are:
There are many other facts a judge will consider, again, each case is unique.
The key thing to remember about child custody and visitation is that no two cases are exactly alike. While your friends that have previously gone through a similar circumstance are well intentioned, it is best to follow the advice of your attorney. Allow Kevin Hickey Law Partners to use our expertise to help you determine what is best for you and your unique situation.