Channel 5 News recently aired a story about an Arkansas father that overcame drug addiction and was able to regain custody of his son after a nearly three-year battle. In November 2017, under Garrett’s Law, his son was removed from his mother right after he was born due to the mother’s untreated mental health diagnosis and substance issues. Garrett’s Law was passed in 2005 after a baby named Garrett was born with methamphetamine in his system. Under this law, mothers of newborn infants testing positive for illegal drugs are presumed guilty of parental neglect under the state’s civil code. This law expanded the Child Maltreatment Act allowing medical personnel to report the mothers to police and child protective service workers. He was subsequently placed into foster care and reunification services began with the mother. At the time the reunification services began, a man came forward to the Department of Child and Family Services stating he was the infant’s father. After paternity was confirmed via DNA testing, he began regular weekly visits in January 2018. During that time, he also established a stable home for himself and his son. Unfortunately, the father’s drug use prevented him from gaining custody. DCFS provided drug treatment for the father and mother. The father continued with the necessary steps required by the department, however, the mother remained unstable leaving in-patient treatment and missing visits with the child. For approximately two years, the father continued to prove his devotion and ability to care for his son while the mother continued to display instability and drug abuse. Ultimately, as of September 2020, the father was granted custody, and just before the Thanksgiving holiday, the child will finally be placed at home with him.
This case had the best outcome for the father and the child. It also proves that fathers wanting to gain sole custody of their children can do it. It can be accomplished through perseverance and hard work no matter what the obstacles. All parents, regardless of gender, have the right to a relationship with their child. Although courts have traditionally sided with the mother in child custody cases, the father’s rights cannot be overlooked.
To pursue custody of your child, you must petition the circuit court in the county where the child lives. The court will then determine if you are fit to raise the child if you have cared responsibility for the child (supervised, protected, and financially supported), and, finally, if granting you custody is in the best interest of the child.
Fathers play an important role in a child’s life from the early years of development, social skills, cognitive development, and building confidence. The child’s best interest (meaning both physically and emotionally) is always at the forefront of the courts and DCFS. It is the position of the State of Arkansas that a child benefits from regular contact with both parents if possible, however, in situations such as the case referenced in this blog, the best interest was for the father to have sole custody of the child. If you are seeking custody of your child, even if a case seems impossible, Kevin Hickey Law Partners can help you determine the necessary steps to achieve your goal. We will be here every step of the way. Once full custody is granted, we can help obtain child custody support payments. Call today to schedule an appointment, 479.802.6560, or chat online with one of our team members. To see the entire story of this case, check it out here.