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Relocations not necessarily grounds for custody order change

On Behalf of | Jan 4, 2020 | Child Custody

The new year may bring changes for Arkansas parents seeking new jobs. Understanding the relocation laws regarding children post-divorce can help you determine if moving is the best for your family. There are some key considerations before making a decision to relocate. 

According to the Arkansas Code 9.13.101, the courts base child custody awards primarily on the best interests of the child. The court wants both parents to stay involved in their children’s life if in the best interests of the child. A child of sufficient age may decide which parent to live with. 

The court will modify a child custody order due to changing parental circumstances. However, the court does not necessarily see relocation as a reason to modify the order. The primary custodial parent does not have to prove a reason for the move. For those fighting a relocation, the court does consider the child’s preference, the availability of education and healthcare in the new location and the reason for relocation. 

In Singletary v Singletary, the Hollandsworth decision set in 2003 did not help Amalie Singletary appeal the decision of the lower courts granting custody to the other parent. Amalie challenged the decision based on her status as the custodial parent in the divorce decree. The decree stated that the couple would share joint custody of their only child with Amalie as the primary custodial parent. 

The Hollandsworth decision could not apply to this decision because the parents shared joint custody. Since the parents no longer could agree, the court determined there was a change in circumstances. The court altered the child custody granting sole custody to the father.