Get to know the Arkansas law. Do not rely on your attorney and certainly do not rely on your judge. A link to Arkansas legal code that is relatively easy to navigate can be found here. Specific to our interests, Title 9 covers family law. Even more specifically, Chapter 9 addresses adoption, Chapter 10 addresses paternity, Chapter 13 addresses custody, and Chapter 14 addresses child support.
Although referenced in the Arkansas Code, Administrative Order 10 (Child Support Guidelines) is found on the Arkansas Judiciary website. Get to know this as well. Do not rely on your attorney and certainly do not rely on your judge. The child support charts can be found at the bottom of this page. Take note that Administrative Order 10 states the information that must be included in your child support order, what constitutes income, how to calculate the amount of support, and items that may warrant a deviation from the standard calculation.
Arkansas law requires that a material change of circumstances be proven prior to considering a change of custody. To the detriment of our state, neither the judiciary or legislature have provided even a partial list of items that would qualify as a change of circumstances. Instead, these items are scattered throughout the Arkansas Code and case law dating back over 50 years. Fortunately, an attorney in Bentonville named Patrick Lewis gathered and summarized the information on his website. Although his website is no longer available, the article is now provided here along with any updates for informational purposes.
Co-parenting after divorce or separation can be difficult for many reasons. However, good co-parenting can not only give your children more stability, but it can lead to better relationships with both parents. Since getting along is not a pre-requisite for joint custody, it helps to be able to find ways to work effectively with the other parent. A nice article with suggestions on how to make joint custody work after separation or divorce can be found here.
Americans for Equal Shared Parenting (AFESP) is a national organization led by Mark Ludwig, a father that found out through his own experiences and contact with others that parents are too often alienated or relegated to "visitors." Their organization, which has a similar approach as ours, is making an impact across the country at both state and national levels. They host meetings at least once a year to gather other shared parenting organizations to share ideas and action plans. Their website and facebook page may offer some helpful information and ways you can assist the shared parenting movement.
The National Parents Organization is another shared parenting organization that has been working for years to achieve goals similar to ours. This organization played a significant role in passing the shared parenting bills in Kentucky and Virginia in 2018. In 2014, they published their first Shared Parenting Report Card and graded all 50 states on how much their laws favor shared parenting. They gave Arkansas a “D.” They recently released their 2019 Report Card, in which Arkansas was upgraded to a C+ in light of Act 1156. It shows we still have a long way to go. In addition to the report, their website contains some useful information. Their website is full of information on what they believe, what they are doing, and how you can help.
As a gender neutral organization, we take a slightly different approach from the Fathers' Rights Movement. However, we both support shared parenting and equal parental rights. To be clear, they are not an "anti-mother" organization, having widespread support from men and women across the country. We recognize and appreciate the work they are doing to address some of the injustices in our family legal system. Their website may provide some useful information to both fathers and mothers.