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Child Custody Q & As

If parental rights to a child are terminated, are the rights of the grandparents also terminated?

In most cases, they are. Grandparents derive their rights to their grandchildren from the parent. Therefore, once the rights of the parents are cut off, so go the rights of the grandparents. (Arkansas Code Annotated 9-9-223)

If a non-custodial parent has not paid child support in one year, can I terminate his rights to our child?

If the non-custodial parent has failed to pay child support and/or visit the child for at least one year, the custodial parent may be able to terminate his rights to the child. The custodial parent must notify the non-custodial parent that they intend to terminate parental rights. The non-custodial parent has three months to pay a substantial amount of past due payments owed and to establish a relationship with the child. If they do not do this, the court may terminate if it finds that it is in the best interest of the child. (Arkansas Code Annotated 9-9-220)

Can parents set their own visitation schedule, or is that a matter that the judge decides?

If the parents can agree, the judge will normally allow the agreement. However, if the matter is contested, the judge will review all the evidence and set a schedule which he feels is in the best interest of the minor children.

Can both parents share "joint custody" of the children?

Yes. If both parents agree to joint custody, it is now favored under recent changes in Arkansas law. Joint custody can also now be ordered by the judge in contested cases.

Is the parent who does not receive custody of the childen required to pay child support?

Yes. In those cases where one parent has primary custody, the other parent will be required to pay child support. In joint custodial arrangements, one parent may be required to assist the other if that parent's earnings greatly exceed the other's. Child support is determined by a chart found in the Arkansas Code and is usually followed strictly.

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