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If you and your ex don’t agree on custody, the courts decide

Deciding to end a marriage is never simple, but it becomes much more complicated when there are minor children involved. Chances are good that you and your ex will not agree on how to divide up child custody during your divorce. You may both want to spend as much time with the children as possible. Some people also view custody as a way of “winning” the divorce, because receiving custody means that the other parent has to pay child support.

If you can’t agree on the best way to split up custody, the Arkansas family courts will make the determination for you. Generally speaking, both parents will present their preferences to the courts, who will then review the situation and issue court orders related to custody, visitation and child support. Understanding state laws will help you to predict likely outcomes to this process.

Arkansas courts will also focus on the children’s needs

The courts will carefully consider the family’s circumstances when deciding how to allocate both physical and legal custody of the children from the marriage. Physical custody obviously refers to whom the children stay with, while legal custody refers to decision-making authority on critical matters like schooling and medical needs.

When determining the best way to approach child custody, Arkansas family courts will always focus on the best interests of the children involved. Generally speaking, that means supporting parental relationships with both parents, often through shared custody. While seeking sole custody is still relatively common, the courts often choose to award shared or joint custody to both parents.

Exceptions to this rule may occur in some situations. If there is a history of abuse in the family with documentation, the courts may choose to limit the abusive parent to visitation or, in some cases, not even allow that. Situations involving addiction, including alcoholism and drug abuse, could also impact the outcome of child custody proceedings if the courts believe it will impact the parent’s ability to care for the children or to provide a stable home environment.

Shared custody is common, so you should prepare for it

Focusing on your children during the divorce can help you rise above the powerful emotions that often accompany the formal end of a marriage. Trying to protect your children and minimize the impact of the divorce on them is the best way to handle the situation. Remember that no matter how upset you are with your spouse, he or she is still the parent to your children. Don’t belittle your ex or try to get your children to take sides. Doing so could make the whole process more traumatic for them.

While you may wish to completely end the relationship with your spouse, having children together makes that kind of permanent split unlikely. Chances are good that the courts will expect you to share custody or, at the very least, allow for reasonable amounts of visitation time. You should start preparing now for a positive and healthy co-parenting relationship with your ex.

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