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Arkansas Child Custody
Child Custody in Arkansas

According to Arkansas law, "In an action for divorce, the award of custody of a child of the marriage shall be made without regard to the sex of a parent but solely in accordance with the welfare and best interest of the child."

In Arkansas the child custody decision is based on the welfare and best interests of the child. The courts consider heavily the parent who provided the majority of care for the child, but also weigh whether this parent will encourage the other parent to enjoy regular parenting time with the child.

Mandatory Parenting Class

Arkansas courts have the right to require divorcing parents with minor children to complete a parenting class before granting a divorce. It is the Judge's discretion, so he or she may require you to take a parenting class. Whether or not you are required to do so, we highly recommend taking the Children In Between parenting class for the benefit of your child(ren).

Joint Custody Preference

Arkansas law expresses a preference for parents to share as equally as possible in the custody of a child in a divorce case. Joint custody is the preferred arrangement, according to Arkansas law. Under this arrangement, both parents share custody of the child, with one parent designated as the primary residential custodian of the minor, and the non-custodial parent enjoys visitation. Arkansas law limits the use of sole custody. Courts award sole custody when one parent is unavailable, unwilling or unsuitable to participate in the custody of a child, for example, if a parent is incarcerated.

Parental Conduct

The Arkansas courts consider the conduct of both parents during the course of the marriage and the impact of parental behavior on the child. The court works with the presumption that a parent who engaged in a "pattern of domestic abuse" should not have custody. The presumption is based on an application of Arkansas law pertaining to what is, and is not, in the best interests of the child.

Preference of the Child

According to Arkansas law, a judge may consider the custody preference of the child if the minor is of "sufficient capacity to reason, regardless of chronological age [but] the preference of the child in regard to custody issues does not govern the final decision under Arkansas law." The determination of a child's capacity is made on a case-by-case basis.

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