Clients ask us a form of this question almost every day. Joint custody has been rare for the majority of the history of family law in Arkansas. However, that trend is changing in many courts throughout the state.
When a Judge is considering custody of children, they always look at what is in “the best interest of the child.” This “best interest” test is an all-encompassing look at the child’s quality of life, rather than just a factor test.
Joint custody is in the best interest of the child when the child will get equally good parenting and support from both parents. Joint custody is in the best interest of the child when the child is not going to be put under lots of stress from having to bounce back and forth from house to house. One of the main sources of this kind of stress is distance between the parent’s homes. It’s less of a strain child if the parents live in the same town or city. Living close allows the child to attend the same school and extracurricular activities regardless of whose house they’re at. So living close to the other parent is normally beneficial when parties are wanting joint custody.
It is always in the best interest of the child for that child to continue to maintain a healthy relationship with both parents. If the court believes one parent is going to intentionally harm the child’s relationship with the other parent, the court will be less likely to grant joint custody.
Overall, there are many factors which come into play when a court is considering if joint custody is in the best interest of a child. We have experience in this area of the law and with the judges in Central Arkansas. If you would like to speak with someone about your specific facts, please give us a call and we will be happy to help.