When it comes to determining how to award the custody of a child, Arkansas courts are guided by the best interests of the child. In Arkansas, it is presumed that maintaining contact with both parents (joint custody) is good for the child. When deciding the custody, the court analyzes whether the custodian is ready to encourage the other party's regular parenting time and communication with the child. Under the joint custody arrangement, the spouses share parental rights and liabilities as equally as possible. However, one of the parents is typically designated as the primary residential custodian (he/she provides a home to the child) while the other parent has visitation rights. Meanwhile, the parents' authority in making decisions about the child's life (legal custody) is usually equal if joint custody is awarded, and the parental time of a non-custodial parent may be rather significant.
Sole custody is a limited option. It typically is only awarded if the other spouse is incarcerated, or he/she is unavailable/unwilling or unsuitable to be the custodian for some other justified reason.