Child custody determinations are the hardest part of any divorce.
When deciding which parent should have primary custody of a child, an Arkansas judge will evaluate both parents’ ability to raise the child and determine a child custody arrangement that is in the child’s best interest.
This can be an emotionally trying experience for the parents, especially when both want custody or when one harbors distrust against the other. A Little Rock child custody attorney can help ensure the process is as fair as possible.
Whatever the outcome, parents are required to abide by the judge’s orders. Child custody orders are legally binding, and failing to adhere to their provisions can have serious legal consequences, including jail time.
Ten Year Dispute Ends in Jail, Lost Relationships
A decade-long saga involving one Arkansas family shows just how complicated child custody proceedings can be.
The couple in question divorced in 1999. At that time, the judge granted temporary child custody to the father, reasoning that the mother had not been able to “maintain stable employment and a stable residence since the parties were divorced.”
In 2001, the mother took the children and fled to Alabama. She claimed they were being abused by their father. Arkansas issued a warrant for the mother’s arrest, but an Alabama judge took emergency jurisdiction over the case and prohibited law enforcement from arresting the mother.
A later investigation by the Houston County Department of Human Resources revealed no abuse by the father. However, a forensic investigation conducted in Alabama contradicted the findings of the Arkansas department.
What followed was a years-long battle between the Arkansas and Alabama judges, each of whom believed they had jurisdiction over the child custody dispute.
Finally, in 2011, the case was reassigned to a new judge, who renewed the extradition order.
The mother was arrested in January 2012. She is being held in Sebastian County jail until she returns her children to the state of Arkansas for a final resolution of the custody dispute. The father has not been able to see or speak with his children – now age 14 and 17 – in 11 years.
If you are engaged in a child custody dispute, it is important not to take matters into your own hands. Contact a Little Rock child custody attorney who can help you resolve the issue in the best interests of your child.
Source: The Times Record, “Mom Jailed Until Children Appear in Sebastian County Court,” Jeff Arnold, Jan. 18, 2012.