A major part of most Arkansas divorce proceedings is determining what kind of child custody arrangement will best fit the family’s needs. In many cases, the parents will end up with shared custody. However, their parenting time won’t necessarily be equal.

When determining child custody, the court will look at a number of factors designed to determine the best interests of the children. If one parent has been responsible for most of the caregiving, that parent may be granted a greater share of the overall parenting time.

A judge may also award unequal custody when there are “red flags” about one of the parent’s ability to provide a safe and healthy home for the children. Some of these situations include:

  • Allegations or evidence of domestic violence
  • Extreme disagreement between the parents
  • A history of being overly-controlling of the children or the other parent
  • A history of drug or alcohol abuse

There are a number of child custody arrangements available to Arkansas parents who are going through a divorce. Some of the most common arrangements include:

  • 50/50 custody: The child spends a specified, and approximately equal, amount of time with each parent. It could be a week with each parent or two weeks with each parent. This works best if both parents live in the same school district and if the parents can communicate with each other regarding homework and other issues.
  • Weekend Visitation: A common form of visitation is every other weekend and one weeknight, with alternating holidays.
  • 2-2-5 Arrangement: In an arrangement such as this, the child might stay with one parent on Mondays and Tuesdays, then with the other parent on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The parents alternate weekends. The children never go more than five days without seeing both parents. This is also a form of 50/50 visitation.

Parents may have to come up with another form of time-sharing if one of them travels for work or works odd hours. It is important to remember, though, that custody arrangements are designed to benefit the children. For that reason, parents should always try to work out a time-sharing schedule that is fair to everyone and affords the children a chance to maintain meaningful relationships with both parents.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Why Equal Child Custody Should Not Be Presumed,” Henry Gornbein, August 29, 2012.

To learn more about this issue, please visit our child custody page.