Who Picks Up & Drops Off a Child in a Divorce?

By Beverly Bird

Courts really don't want to take control of every minute aspect of your life, even when you divorce and have kids. Judges prefer that you come up with your own parenting plan, which might include what parent will drop off the children and who will pick them up for visitation. Sometimes, however, parents just can't agree, so the court will get involved, making a ruling based on your family's unique circumstances and the best interests of the children.

Common Sense Measures

If you and your spouse plan to live some distance apart, consider setting up a halfway point where you can meet and exchange the kids. This will cut down on either parent taking the brunt of gas and other transportation expenses as well. Otherwise, it may make sense for the parent who is relinquishing the child at the end of parenting time to drop him off at the other parent's home. This avoids putting the child in a position where he feels like one parent is taking him away from the other, and it also ensures that the relinquishing parent – and the child – are ready for the transition.

Issues of Domestic Violence

If you and your spouse have a history of domestic violence, the court will almost certainly order a detailed parenting plan, including pick-up and drop-off rules, to minimize contact between you. This might involve a neutral third party handling the exchanges, picking up the children from one household and taking them to the other. A judge may order a meeting point for the exchange, even if you don't live far apart. This might be the parking lot at a police station, or another highly-trafficked and safe location.

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Arkansas Child Custody Laws & Visitation

Like most states, the Arkansas family law statutes instruct judges to base custody decisions on the best interests of the children. However, what defines “best interests” can vary a great deal from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Arkansas law does not assume that joint parenting post-divorce is always in the best interests of a child, and courts lean toward one parent having physical custody and the other having visitation.

Factors Used in Determining Child Custody

If you can't reach a custody agreement with your spouse, divorce means putting your family in the hands of a trial court judge. The court has no intimate knowledge of your family to guide a custody decision, so it must fall back on a statutory standard provided by law. This is called the "best interests of the child," and the different states have different lists of factors that a judge must consider in deciding just what the best interests of your child are.

Splitting Up Kids During a Divorce

Courts have not embraced split custody as a viable option when parents divorce. This arrangement separates siblings, placing one or more with one parent, and the others with their other parent. Judges tend to take the view that it is in the best interest of children for siblings to remain together.

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