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Child Custody in Arkansas

Familiarize Yourself with Arkansas Child Custody Laws


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A family court in Arkansas uses several factors to determine child custody. Primarily, the court makes a determination based on the best interests of the child. Parents who wish to file for child custody in Arkansas should first become familiar with the child custody laws in this state.

Related: Help our readers by sharing your experience with child custody in Arkansas.

Best Interests of the Child

An Arkansas court will make a custody decision that will assure continuous contact with both parents, if joint custody serves the best interests of the child. In determining a child's best interests, the court will consider:

  • The child's preference, if the child is of a sufficient age and maturity to make an adequate decision.
  • Which parent is more likely to encourage a relationship between the child and the child's other parent
  • Any history of domestic violence
  • Whether either parent is a registered sex offender

Domestic Violence and Child Custody in Arkansas

If a parent has been accused of domestic violence, a family court in Arkansas will presume that it is not in the best interests of the child for that parent to be awarded custody of a child.

Drug Testing and Child Custody in Arkansas

In a child custody or visitation case in Arkansas, the court may order the parties to be tested for drugs. The court may require the parties to pay for the drug testing or the court may arrange for payment.

Unmarried Parents and Child Custody in Arkansas

In Arkansas, when a child is born to an unmarried woman, legal custody of the child will be assigned to the child's mother until the child reaches age 18, unless an Arkansas court gives another person custody of the child.

The Arkansas court will award child custody to the child's biological father if he can prove:

  • He's an appropriate, fit parent
  • He has taken responsibilities toward the child by providing appropriate care, including financial support
  • It's in the child's best interests to award custody to the biological father

If a biological father is not awarded custody, the court will award reasonable visitation, if it's in the best interests of the child.

Custody Modification

A court in Arkansas will consider a request from either the child's father or mother to change the current custody arrangement. However, the parent requesting a change must prove a change in circumstances. Any parent requesting a custody change should also provide proof that a change of custody will serve the child's best interests.

For more information about child custody in Arkansas, please refer to the Arkansas Family Code or speak with a qualified attorney in Arkansas.

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