Skilled Child Custody Representation
Navigating a divorce, particularly when children are involved, can be incredibly difficult. You may be feeling overwhelmed, emotionally drained and concerned about what life will be like for your children now that you and your spouse are no longer together. Establishing a comprehensive child custody arrangement can help ease some of those concerns and ensure that your child’s best interests are accounted for.
If you need to establish custody or modify a custody agreement, get the help of a skilled family law attorney who will advocate for you and your child. I am attorney Scott A. Scholl, and I have been providing compassionate legal counsel to individuals and families throughout Arkansas for over two decades. At the Scholl Law Firm, PLLC, I help clients in the Little Rock area and throughout the state.
Adapting To New Laws
In April of 2021, lawmakers in Arkansas passed legislation that they believe “levels the playing field” for parents in child custody matters. This new law makes it easier for parents to seek joint custody. The law dictates that a judge must grant joint custody to each parent unless there is explicit evidence that it would not be in the child’s best interests to do so.
This new law means that any parent seeking sole custody needs to prove that it is not beneficial for the child for both parents to share custody. I assist both moms and dads through the most complex custody cases, and I am ready to help you through these legal updates as well.
Establishing A Child Custody Arrangement
In the state of Arkansas, child custody arrangements are determined based on the welfare and best interests of the children involved. Typically, there are two options when it comes to establishing a custody arrangement:
- If you and the other parent are able to come to an agreement, you can draw up the terms and present them to the court for approval. Having an attorney by your side can help facilitate a productive conversation and make this process as painless as possible.
- If you and the other parent can’t come to an agreement, you will take the case to family court. A judge will then establish a custody arrangement using their best judgment. If it becomes necessary for a judge to make the call, working with an attorney is integral to ensuring that your voice is heard.
Once the method of establishing custody has been agreed upon, it is necessary to determine who will be awarded legal and physical custody of the child.
Legal Custody Versus Physical Custody
There are two types of custody that can be awarded in Arkansas: legal custody and physical custody.
Legal custody grants a parent the right to make important decisions on behalf of the child and about the child’s upbringing. For example, a parent with legal custody would be responsible for making decisions about the child’s education, religion and health.
Physical custody refers to the daily care of the child. Typically, the child lives with the parent who has physical custody. That parent is then responsible for providing clothing, food and a safe environment.
One parent may have sole legal and/or physical custody, while the other parent has visitation rights, or both parents may share custody, including shared decision-making responsibilities. The court will take into account a variety of factors when determining a custody arrangement.
Factors To Consider When Determining Custody
The goal of the court is to make an informed decision about the custody arrangement that will best serve the needs of the child. To do this, the court will consider many factors, including:
- The mental, physical and financial well-being of both parents
- The relationship between each parent and the child
- The child’s preferences, depending on their age and maturity level
These are just a few of the important factors that the court will use when deciding how to divide parenting time between the two parties. When a custody arrangement has been established, it is not meant to be modified. However, circumstances can change, and sometimes, it is necessary to update a custody arrangement.
Modifying An Existing Custody Arrangement
A child custody arrangement may be modified due to a major life event or material change of circumstances, but only if the proposed modification is in the best interests of the child. If, for example, you lose your job, you may no longer be able to provide for the child’s financial needs. If you have experienced a significant change of circumstances, seek legal guidance today to determine whether you are eligible for a child custody modification.
When a father is seeking custody or other paternal privileges, he may need to prove parentage. This is especially true for unwed couples with children or if the father’s name is not on the birth certificate. Whether you are a father looking to secure your rights or you are someone trying to hold a father to his legal obligations, I can help you establish paternity, visitation and child support.
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From establishing custody arrangements to filing for divorce, I provide exceptional guidance on a variety of family law issues.