1

Ask for an attorney ad litem in your custody proceeding.

An attorney ad litem is appointed by the court to determine the best interests of your children. This is usually done at the request of your attorney or ordered by the judge. In Arkansas, an attorney ad litem must be a licensed attorney and must have completed specialized training in the area of child custody. The ad litem will investigate the issues in your case with regard to the children and will make a recommendation to the court at the final hearing. Your child's preference will be included in the attorney ad litem's report to the court. The ad litem's recommendation is not binding on the court. An attorney ad litem, if properly certified, is usually compensated by the Administrative Office of the Courts, however the court may require the parties to share the costs of an ad litem if funding is unavailable. Attorneys ad litem are governed by Administrative Order 15 of the Arkansas Supreme Court.

2

Do not pressure your child to make a decision about custody arrangements.

A judge or an attorney ad litem can usually determine when a parent has attempted to sway a child's preference for one parent over another. The complications of a divorce are often hard on children and the pressure to decide whether to live with one parent or another can be traumatic. Most children do not want to choose one parent over the other. Attempts to disparage your child's other parent can lead to an unpleasant result in your custody dispute. As much as possible, children should be left completely out of the divorce and custody proceedings.