Most couples, whether or not they have been married, retain custody of their children after separating, but there are certain circumstances under which a grandparent may wish to gain custody. These include situations such as the incarceration of one of the child's parents, or the physical or financial inability of the parents to care for their child. If you live in the state of Arkansas and wish to gain custody of your grandchild, consult with an attorney to gain a greater knowledge of grandparent custody laws and to start legal proceedings.
The Child's Best Interest
As in parental custody cases, Arkansas judges seek to determine whether a relationship between the grandparent and grandchild is a favorable one. The grandchild should already have a significant bond with his or her grandparent(s) and fostering that relationship must prove beneficial to the child, i.e., the child must feel safe around the grandparent. If the child has been living full-time with the grandparent for at least six months, and the child is younger than a year old, Arkansas law allows the grandparent to initiate child custody proceedings.
In some cases, grandparents may assume the role of the parent if there are extreme circumstances that prevent a parent from gaining custody. For example, if a parent is incarcerated or deployed while serving in the military, a grandparent may step in to provide a temporary home for the child. If both parents are unable to care for the child due to a history of abuse, neglect, drug use or alcoholism, Arkansas courts may consider awarding the grandparent permanent custody, especially if the child has lived with his grandmother or grandfather before.
Reputation of Both Parents
If the Arkansas courts have evidence that neither of the child's parents is able to provide her with the daily nourishment, clothing or emotional support that is necessary, a grandparent may be awarded sole custody of the child. If a child has been living with her grandparent for a year or more, and is older than a year old, the judge will be more likely to award the grandparent custody. The grandparent will have to have been the primary caregiver and source of financial support for the child during the time the child was living in the home of the grandparent. The year that the grandchild lives with the grandparent must be consistent, and has to occur within a year of the start of child custody proceedings.