Can I get primary custody if my child wants to live with me?
My child says he/she wants to live with me, will the Judge take that into consideration in determining which parent is awarded primary custody of our child?
Attorneys are often asked at what age can the minor child make their own decision about which parent they want to live with, or at what age the minor child can decide whether or not they want to continue visitation with the non-custodial parent.
The short and direct answer is, there is no definitive age at which a minor child may make that type of decision, and the minor child never gets to make the decision all on their own. However, that does not mean that a child’s preference for where they live or how often they visit the non-custodial parent plays no part in decisions by the presiding judge.
In Arkansas, courts must consider the best interest of the minor child when determining where the child will live, and how often (and when) the non-custodial parent may exercise visitation with their child. Many factors are considered by the court to determine what is in the best interest of the child, including the preference of the child if the child is of a sufficient age and can show the required mental capacity to reason. There is not specific age when a judge is required to listen to or defer to the child’s opinion, the judge will make those decisions on a case by case basis. This also applies to visitation with the non-custodial parent. If your child is able to show the mental capacity to reason and articulate their valid preference, the Judge can take that into consideration when making child custody and visitation decisions.
However, the Court is not bound by any desire of the child to live with one parent or the other. Arkansas Courts do not have to follow the child’s preference on custody, even if he or she is mature enough to have a reasonable opinion. Court must consider the child’s preference along with other factors relevant to custody. If the Court decides the child’s preference is not in the child’s best interest, the Court will decide against the child’s preference.
If the Court determines that the child is of sufficient age and can show the required mental capacity to reason, the Court may have the child testify to tell the judge their preference. Alternatively, an attorney ad litem may be appointed to represent the child and report to the Court what the attorney ad litem believes is in the best interest of the child and the child’s preference. The attorney ad litem represents the child and only the child, and can be used as an alternative to having the child testify in Court. If a child is to testify about their preference, the judge will take precautions to make sure the child is not harassed when testifying, as stating a preference in custody matters in front of the parents can be a traumatic experience for children. Alternatively, the judge may also interview the child outside of the courtroom in the judge’s chambers.
In general, Courts will determine the primary custody arrangement whenever the parents are unable to come to an agreement themselves. The Court considers all factors relevant to the well being of the child, including:
If you need assistance in a child custody matter, give us a call. We can help.
What is Title IX?
Title IX is a group of federal statutes which govern the rules of conduct for individuals enrolled in education institutions, among other things. Institutions that fail to comply with federal Title IX provisions may lose federal aid. Title IX provisions require that the campus Title IX office to investigate allegations of sexual harassment, assault, or other forms of sexual misconduct. If that investigation shows that violations of Title IX have occurred, the educational institution will follow their disciplinary procedures.
What is the Process for a Title IX matter?
All reported cases of alleged sexual misconduct will be addressed by the Title IX office of the educational institution where it is reported. If the allegation warrants an investigation, the case will move forward for a full and comprehensive investigation. The Title IX investigator will conduct interviews with all relevant parties, including witnesses, and collect and relevant documentation such as police reports, medical records, text messages, etc. The Title IX investigator will compile all of those records to create an investigative summary of the alleged incident.
Both the complainant, and respondent, will be provided with a copy of the investigative summary. At the conclusion of the investigation, the Title IX coordinator will make a decision, based on that investigative summary, and render a decision. Either party is allowed to appeal that decision within five days of the notification of the outcome. If appealed, the matter goes to a formal hearing.
What rights does the student have in a Title IX matter?
The student has the right to be notified of the allegations.
The right to a prompt, fair, and impartial investigation and resolution.
The right to review available information and a list of witnesses.
The right to propose information and witnesses.
The right to be accompanied by a lawyer.
The right to have to appeal.
What are the potential penalties for sanctions for violating Title IX?
All potential sanctions that an institution may impose on a student are documented within their student handbook, or otherwise accessible to the student. Common sanctions when a violation occurs include a disciplinary probation period, ordered treatment, suspension, or expulsion from the institution. Appealing an adverse decision may be an option, but a student is best served by taking the necessary steps as early as possible to achieve the best possible outcome so that an appeal is not necessary.
Do I need a lawyer for dealing with a Title IX matter?
Students facing allegation of a Title IX violation should consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer will assess the circumstances of the alleged violation and devise a strategy to formulate a defense. It is critical to have a lawyer who understands both criminal law and Title IX.
Obtaining a positive result in a Title IX hearing can mean the difference between achieving academic and professional goals or having those dreams dashed. It is critical to contact an experienced lawyer as soon as the student is made aware of a potential Title IX matter.
If your son or daughter has been arrested or charged with a crime while enrolled as a student at the University of Arkansas, you can expect swift action from the University Office of Student Standards and Conduct.
The Office of Student Standards and Conduct has broad discretion. Although the student is entitled to due process, the University moves on these matters very quickly.
Once the University sets a hearing, and depending on the alleged violation of the code of student conduct, the student can receive a university reprimand (placing the student on warning status for one year), a university censure (similar to reprimand but more serious), conduct probation, suspension (usually with specific conditions set by the University that must be met for re-enrollment), or expulsion (permanent dismissal from the University).
Students are often set for preliminary hearings with the Office of Student Standards and Conduct long before any court appearance on the criminal charge. Many times, the student does not realize the seriousness of the situation or the potential consequences until it is too late. If the student does not have adequate legal representation at the preliminary hearing with the University, it often requires a lengthy appeals process.
If your son or daughter has a hearing set with the Office of Student Standards and Conduct, do not allow them to attend the hearing without adequate legal representation. The outcome can have negative repercussions which can affect the student for years to come, not only at the University, but as the students transition out into the work force. Wh Law has defended young men and women in misdemeanor and felony court on a variety of matters from alcohol related offenses, narcotics cases, crimes of violence, and accusation of sexual assault. Wh Law can ensure that the rights of your son or daughter are protected.