This post is being written to conclude and recap my series on the common question of whether or not an Arkansas child can choose which parent they will live with. I felt it was necessary to address this topic as this is a common question about which there are many misperceptions. Contrary to what many people believe, there is no magic age at which a child can just automatically choose where they will reside. The goal of my last several articles has been to provide information which will help people to better understand their situation. It has also been my goal to provide information which will assist with the selection of a family law lawyer. If you or a loved one are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a Little Rock attorney.
I addressed several topics over my recent articles. The issues which I analyzed include:
- How a child’s wishes impact Arkansas child custody cases
- When courts will grant a teenager discretion over which parent they reside with
- Situations in which the courts may overrule the wishes of a teenager
There are multiple reasons why I chose to address these topics. First, contrary to what many believe, there is no magic age at which a child can “choose” which parent they live with. Instead, the Court will give increasing weight to the wishes of the child as they become older and more mature. The Court’s sole concern, however, will always be for the best interest of the child. This means that the Court will disregard the wishes of a child if those desires are against the youth’s own best interest. Second, Courts will often grant broad discretion to teenagers as to which parent they will spend time with. A child cannot use this discretion, however, to get around the Court’s visitation mandates. This means that if a child is refusing to go through with visitation, with a non-custodial parent, then the Court is likely to revoke their discretion. Finally, the Court’s will disregard the desires of a teenager if they demonstrate short-term thinking. If a youth is making choices, which are not necessarily illegitimate, but run counter to their best interest, then the Court will likely issue its own visitation schedule.
One point I stressed in each of these articles is that you should contact a family law attorney as soon as possible if you or a loved one are involved in a legal dispute. The longer you allow the current situation to remain in place then the more likely the Court is to consider it the “status quo.” This can result in the Court being unwilling to alter the situation. By contacting counsel sooner, rather than later, you help to improve the chances of the Court being receptive to your arguments. I am a Little Rock child custody lawyer who understands the importance of such matters. My office will give your case the attention it deserves and we will make sure you understand what to expect as the matter progresses. Contact us online or by telephone today. We also handle matters in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff, and throughout the remainder of Arkansas.