Custody is already difficult enough, but when you add in new romantic partners, the situation gets more complex. Whether the new partner is new on the scene or was an affair partner, it makes sense why you might not want your child to be spending a lot of time with somebody you hardly know.
Do you want the judge in your custody case to make a decision based on your ex's current live-in partner? You first need to understand Arkansas child custody laws to then understand your own custody situation.
What Does the Judge Consider for Child Custody Decisions?
In Arkansas, the judge considers several factors when making child custody decisions. These factors include the child's preferences, the home environment of each parent, the work schedules of each parent, and even the relationships of each parent.
Ultimately, the judge will consider your ex's new partner in determining which home provides the better environment for a child. In fact, the judge can demand a home study, which may consider the new live-in partner to be a negative factor.
What Is a Home Study?
A home study is an evaluation of a family or home, typically performed by a social worker or therapist who understands the basics of the custody situation. The evaluation may include interviews with people who live in each home, in addition to potential psychological testing. The social worker may also perform background checks on adults in the home.
The results of the home study may reveal that the home is not a safe or healthy place for the child to spend prolonged periods. As a result, the social worker may recommend that the child should not spend overnights with this new partner in the home.
What's the Verdict?
While many judges aren't enthusiastic to give a parent custody of a child when he or she has a new partner in the mix, the judge may not necessarily deny a parent any custody or visitation because they are living with a new partner. This is especially the case if the relationship appears healthy and stable.
If the relationship seems unstable or appears to be detrimental to the child's well-being, the judge may give custody to the other parent. This happened in the Nix v. Nix case in Arkansas. The judge declared that the mother's relationship was immoral and caused harm to the children.
Judges prefer to give parents joint custody when they are equally dedicated to the children. Additionally, keep in mind that you may be able to modify the custody agreement in the future. If you feel more comfortable with your ex's new partner later on, or if they get married, either of you may change the agreement.
What Can You Do?
One of the best things you can do for yourself and your children is to discuss your case with a family law attorney. The attorney will help you determine if you have a case to prevent your ex's new partner from participating in your child's life. If this individual has a criminal background or something else concerning in their history, you may have a better chance.
Remember that you cannot keep your child from attending court-ordered visitation. In fact, doing so can actually result in the judge holding you in contempt of court or taking away some of your rights to your child if he or she believes you will prevent your child from having a relationship with your ex.
The Madden Law Firm Attorneys at Law understand your position, and we want to help you. Call our office today to discuss your case with a compassionate attorney who understands that familial issues can be more complex when more people are involved.