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Child custody arrangements and visitation plans that meet your needs

At Huffman Butler, PLLC we recognize that children are often the innocent victims of family disputes. In addition to offering our in-depth knowledge of Arkansas family law, we also provide our clients with care and support. Whether you are dealing with a child custody or child visitation problem, you can count on us to explain all of your options and provide sound legal advice.

Types of custody arrangements

The term “legal custody” refers to the responsibility for making important decisions regarding your child’s upbringing, such as what school your child attends or the medical treatment your child receives. Meanwhile, “physical custody” refers to the responsibility for your child’s routine daily care and control. Both physical and legal custody can be shared between the two parents (joint custody) or awarded to one parent (sole custody). As a result, there are a number of possible custody arrangements.

Custody disputes during divorce

Spouses should make every effort to resolve custody disputes informally through negotiation. After all, parents know their children better than the court. However, sometimes court intervention is unavoidable. No matter what the outcome, you and your ex-spouse will have to communicate periodically throughout your child’s life. Therefore it is beneficial to cooperate in crafting a reasonable and mutually-supportive solution to custody and visitation.

In an action for divorce, custody determinations must be made without regard to the sex of a parent but solely in accordance with the welfare and best interests of the child. When considering the best interests of the child, the court takes the child’s preference into account if the child is of a sufficient age and capacity to reason, regardless of chronological age. Other factors the court may consider under Arkansas divorce law include:

  • Which party is more likely to allow the child frequent and continuing contact with the noncustodial parent and grandparents
  • Allegations of domestic violence involving the other parent, child or other family member
  • The presence of a sex offender in the home

Child visitation during divorce

Divorcing or divorced parents should also work to establish their own parenting plan that meets their child’s schedule, lifestyle and needs. As long as your visitation schedule is reasonable, the court will approve the visitation, and it will become an order of the court.

If the court is asked to determine visitation, it will take the child’s best interests into account, including the preferences of the child. A typical visitation order may include time with the noncustodial parents every other weekend, alternating holidays between parents and an extended period of time during school vacations. However, parents may always request more time with the child.

In some cases, a parent may ask the court to restrict visitation to protect the child. Because courts rarely want to cut off all contact between parent and child, they often order supervised visitation. This involves regulated contact between a parent and child in the presence of a third person and may be ordered in cases where there is a history of abuse, alcohol or drug use, or an extended absence by the parent.

Custody of a child born outside of marriage

Child custody disputes also occur outside of divorce proceedings. When a child is born to an unmarried couple, legal custody of the child is awarded to the mother unless a court orders otherwise. However, the biological father, provided he has established paternity, may petition the court for custody of the child. The court may award custody to the biological father upon a showing that:

  • He is a fit parent to raise the child
  • He has assumed his responsibilities toward the child by providing care, supervision, protection and financial support for the child
  • It is in the best interests of the child to award custody to the biological father

Custody and visitation rights for grandparents

Grandparents have a number of important rights under Arkansas law. With regard to custody, grandparents have the right to be heard during child custody proceedings of a child under 12 months of age if:

  • The child has resided with the grandparent for a minimum of six consecutive months
  • The grandparent was the primary caregiver for and financial supporter of the grandchild during the time the grandchild resided with the grandparent
  • The child has resided with the grandparent for six consecutive months within one year before the custody proceeding

For a grandchild who is 12 months of age or older, the residency requirement is increased to one year.

Grandparents and great-grandparents may also petition the court for visitation rights if the parents’ relationship is no longer intact as a result of death, divorce or legal separation — or, if the parents are unmarried, the petitioner is the maternal grandparent or a paternity test has confirmed the petitioner as the paternal grandparent. If the child’s parents deny or limit visitation, the court will consider their decision to be in the best interest of the child unless the grandparents can show an established relationship with the child that is in the child’s best interests to continue.

Experienced attorneys helping resolve custody and visitation disputes

The family lawyers of Huffman Butler, PLLC are deeply committed to every single child custody or visitation case we take on. Our child custody lawyers take the time to listen to your concerns and fully explain all of your legal options. We also protect your rights and the rights of your children, whether it is through negotiation or litigation.

The family lawyers of Huffman Butler, PLLC are deeply committed to every single child custody or visitation case we take on. Our child custody lawyers take the time to listen to your concerns and fully explain all of your legal options. We also protect your rights and the rights of your children, whether it is through negotiation or litigation.

Contact a respected child custody and visitation firm in Benton

At Huffman Butler, PLLC we take a hands-on approach with all of our clients. Our compassionate family lawyers work diligently to resolve your child custody or child visitation conflict. To discuss your case, call 501-315-5297 or book an appointment on our online scheduler. We offer flexible office hours to meet your busy schedule.

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