One of the big decisions involved in the divorce process is which parent gets custody of the kids. Arkansas, like other states, conforms to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act when it comes to child custody orders. When deciding who should have custodial rights, the judge takes a number of factors into consideration.
According to FindLaw, there are different custody types available. There is legal custody, which refers to who makes decisions about the child’s medical care, education, religion and other important determinations. Physical custody refers to who the child lives with. A judge may grant sole custody to one parent on either or both types, or the judge will grant joint custody to both parents. There is also third-party custody, in which the state makes the decisions about the child.
Unlike in some states, an Arkansas judge can consider the preferences of the child when making a custody decision. The judge also looks at other factors that are in the best interests of the child.
According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, the judge considers the child’s circumstances and the abilities of each parent to provide a loving and safe home. Along with the general safety and health of the child, other factors the judge may look at include:
- The current relationship the child has with each parent
- The physical and mental health of the parents
- The child’s schedule and activities
- The ability of each parent to provide the child his or her own living space
- The work schedules of the parents
- Violence or abuse in the home
A judge can change an original custody order if the needs of the child change or a parent’s circumstances change.