Arkansas Child Custody Laws & Visitation

Child Custody Arrangements

Joint custody allows both parents to continue supporting and caring for their children. Parents have the option of entering into a joint legal custodial agreement, a joint physical custodial agreement, or an agreement wherein the parents share joint legal and physical custody of their children. A well thought out joint custody agreement can make the best of a bad situation by limiting the amount of disruption the children must suffer in a divorce.

Altering Custody and Visitation
Custody and visitation arrangements are never considered permanent. If the situation has changed for one of the parents or for the child since the original arrangements were agreed or ruled upon, then changes can be made. If parents want to change custody through the court, they usually must show there has been a material change in circumstances since the last custody order. The parent must also show that altering the arrangements would be better for the child. The most amicable manner in which to have custody changed is to have an agreement to modify custody approved by the court. No matter what the parents’ opinions may be, all custody decisions and changes are ultimately the responsibility of the court.

Child / Parent Search / Child’s Change in Residence
A major concern of family law courts is the welfare of children. Many parents and care givers don’t realize how stressful it is for children to change residences even under the best of circumstances. If the change in a child’s residence takes him or her from their friends, family or community ties it can trigger an even more stressful custody battle. While a fit parent remaining behind who wants the child to stay may be able to change the custody arrangements, a move across town would probably not be enough to challenge custody. If the child wishes to stay with the other parent instead of moving, the court may examine the child’s request. All aspects of each location and environment may be examined.

Parental Visitation
Visitation is often a tough element to negotiate in a divorce. Sometimes both parents feel they are the better parent and deserve to be with their children more than the other. Whether these feelings are true or not, the key thing each parent must keep in mind is that the children usually expect to see both parents. If if there is a disagreement the court may decide the fate of the child. The judge will take into account the age of the child, the child’s preference, the continuity in the environment, the ability of each parent to provide for the physical and emotional needs of the child, and the physical and mental conditions of the parents themselves. As circumstances change, either parent can ask that visitation provisions be changed.

Visitation Rights for Grandparents
Many grandparents are worried about the welfare of their grandchildren. They may see their own children as lacking in parenting skills and find it impossible to watch their grandchildren suffer abuse and neglect. Nowadays grandparents are demanding the right to see their grandchildren after a divorce and under some limited circumstances they are being given visitation rights. The scope of these rights depends on Arkansas Law as well as state and federal constitutional provisions.

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