Arkansas parents who choose to separate must grapple with child custody issues on top of the division of marital property and other divorce-related matters. Shared custody is typically the most desired because it allows children to maintain relationships with both parents. Child psychologists consistently report that children of divorce benefit from shared custody arrangements. Getting to a place where you and an ex-spouse can communicate constructively and offer your children the stability that they need takes work but is possible.

The age of your children may influence the custody plan

While traditionally mothers were awarded the majority of parenting time with young children, today’s courts recognize the benefits of more equally shared custody with toddlers, preschoolers and more. Younger children generally do best when they frequently switch back and forth between parents. A custody schedule of two days with one parent, two days with the other and then three-day weekends alternating between parents is a common arrangement that succeeds with young children. As children enter their tweens and teens, however, the family might find that alternating weeks works best.

Approach schedules realistically

When co-parents need to shift children back and forth between households, a schedule that accommodates everyone’s needs as much as possible reduces stress. Demanding more custody time than you can reasonably manage on top of work commitments sets the stage for conflict. Custody schedules that seek balance between the parents’ work schedules and the children’s school and extracurricular activities have a greater ability to create stable routines for everyone.

The role of a legal professional

Knowledge of family law and parental rights may aid you as you consider your options for child custody. Before making any commitments with a co-parent, an attorney might offer suggestions about how to resolve disputes and arrive at an acceptable schedule that maintains your rights and represents your family’s needs. Legal guidance aimed at addressing your specific problems may introduce you to workable ideas as you navigate new situations and strive to guide your children forward after divorce.