Figuring out child custody can be a sensitive part of the divorce process. Even well-meaning Little Rock parents cannot always negotiate a custody arrangement, whether because their relationship has deteriorated so much or the parties have very different goals.
When divorcing parents cannot work out a reasonable child custody plan themselves, it becomes their divorce judge’s job. They must consider several factors before ruling on whether the parents will share custody. The most important factor is always the child’s best interests — not the parents’ preferences or their genders. To determine what those best interests are, the judge will examine evidence of:
- The home environment each parent would provide for the child
- Whether either or both parents have a history of drug or alcohol abuse
- The parents’ work schedules
- The child’s preference, if they are old enough to form and express an opinion
These decisions are based on the particular facts in each case. If the judge determines that both parents can provide a safe, nurturing home for the child and that moving between their parents’ homes is practical for the child (I.e., the parents live fairly close together), they will likely order shared child custody. Otherwise, the judge probably will grant sole custody to one parent and reserve visitation time for the other.
The divorce lawyer’s role
Most of the time, parents work with their divorce attorneys to negotiate a settlement on child custody. When that is not possible, their lawyers will present their case to the judge using the best available evidence. Your attorney will do everything they can to make sure your parental rights are respected.