Not every Arkansas child is born to married parents. Many children are the result of long-term unmarried partnerships, while others are born because of a more short-term relationship. All of them are entitled to a child custody arrangement that puts their best interests first.

Of course, the parents are the ones who must carry out the arrangement. If they cannot agree on custody, the court may have to step in and decide where the child will live. Many times, each parent will seek sole custody, which would grant them physical and legal custody over the child. Or maybe the parents both want joint custody, but cannot agree on the terms.

When sole custody is awarded, the other parent may receive visitation rights, so that they can still spend regular time with the child. However, even visitation is not appropriate in every case, such as when the parent has a history of child abuse.

As time goes on, one or both of the parents may come to believe that the custody arrangement is not working, or no longer makes sense at the child’s current age. It is possible to go back to court to modify an existing custody plan.

As anyone with experience in child custody matters knows, all of this is virtually identical to cases where parents get divorced. Children of divorce deserve a custody plan in their best interests, but so do children of unmarried parents.

Most parents agree, but it is very difficult to make the court understand their vision of a fair child custody plan without the assistance of a family law attorney.