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Custody

CUSTODY IN A DIVORCE

  • In a custody determination, the award of custody of a child of a marriage shall be made without regard to the sex of a parent. Moms and Dads have equal footing in a custody dispute.
  • The overall issue in a custody determination is what is in the best interests of the child.
  • In making this determination, the Court oftentimes appoints an attorney ad litem, more specifically, attorneys who represent the best interests of a child – not necessarily what the child wants.
  • There is no age, in Arkansas, when a child can pick where they want to live. Courts can listen to a child’s preference and, after taking into consideration the child’s age and maturity level, consider that as a factor in a custody determination. But it is only 1 factor in determining what is in the child’s best interests.
  • In an action for divorce, an award of joint custody is favored in Arkansas.
  • The burden of proof to modify a custody award is much higher. The petitioner must prove that there has been a material change in circumstances and that it is in the best interests of the child for custody to be modified.
Joint custody is becoming more and more common in Arkansas. Our custody statute has been amended to state that Joint Custody is “favored.”

JOINT CUSTODY

Joint Custody, per A.C.A. §9-13-101, means the approximate and reasonable equal division of time with the child by both parents individually as agreed to by the parents or as ordered by the Court.

A common schedule for a joint custody arrangement is a weekly rotation. Sometimes, the parent not having physical custody in a given week can pick the child up from school, or at 3:30 p.m. if the child is not in school and return the child by 8:00 p.m. or return the child to school the following morning, or to the other parent by 8:00 a.m. if the child is not in school.

Co-Parenting sessions can be extremely helpful, in both traditional custody and joint custody scenarios. For a list of counselors who offer these sessions click here.

Most Courts have a “Suggested Visitation Schedule” that is frequently implemented in a traditional primary custody and visitation scenario.

VISITATION

To view the current schedule in Washington and Madison Counties, click here.

To view the Benton County schedule, click here.

Benton County Judge Tom Smith has a Parenting Plan for joint custody. To see same, click here.

Awards
Testimonials
  • "Kimberly made the experience of mediation much more comfortable than I had ever anticipated. I felt complete at ease being honest and speaking freely about all my concerns. She was very hepful in walking me through one of the most stressful parts of my life and I'm very thankful to her for her services." - A mediation client from September 2015

  • "Mediation with Kimberly was smooth. " - A mediation client from September 2015

  • "I recently mediated a domestic relations case with Kimberly Canova and Adell Ralston. I have utilized mediation in several of my cases over the years; however, this was my first experience with co-mediators. I found utilizing co-mediators to be very worthwhile. It saved time, was cost effective, and made my client more at ease. Often times in mediation, as was the case in this matter, the mediator opts to caucus the parties. In doing so, many times my client and I are left waiting on the mediator for hours to come back with information from the other side. With the two mediators, we were able to keep the dialogue going and brainstorm throughout the time we were there, which I felt assisted us in coming to an agreement in a more timely manner. I also believe my client felt “heard” the entire mediation, which made her feel she got more from the experience and her money was well spent. " - M. Kemper, Attorney at Law

Reviews and Ratings
  • lawyers
    5.0/5.0

    Kimberly is very professional and knows what she's doing! Our mediation involved my grand daughter and she was excellent in making sure what was best for her, We highly recommend her to anyone in need of mediation,

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    Client

  • lawyers
    5.0/5.0

    Very helpful and knowledgeable about family law. I would highly recommend her services.

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    Client

  • lawyers
    5.0/5.0

    She is a great lawyer, she takes charge and gets things done. She helped put me at ease with my situation and her confidence helped me have confidence in myself during this time. She listens and is very attentive.

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    Client

  • lawyers
    5.0/5.0

    Ms. Canova was my lawyer through my divorce and child custody battle. She is the main reason I was able to continue to have a relationship with my children and received joint custody. I had a very nasty divorce and her insight and legal knowledge h...

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    Client

  • lawyers
    5.0/5.0

    Kim's years of experience shine through. I felt well advocated for. The interests of our child and the family were taken care of with competence and professionalism.

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    Client

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