HELPING MOTHERS, FATHERS, & GRANDPARENTS TOO
Joint custody by both parents was not historically favored in Arkansas until a recent change in the law made it so that joint custody must be ordered in every new family law case unless there is “clear and convincing” evidence that it is not in the best interests of the child. Protecting the rights of children is legally paramount in Arkansas, and the truth is that sometimes a child should primarily be with one parent over the other. All things considered, both mothers and fathers rights should be considered and protected in matters of custody and support of their children.
The law states that in a divorce, the award of custody of a child of a marriage shall be made without regard to the sex of a parent and solely in accordance with the welfare and best interest of the child. A.C.A. § 9-13-101(a)(1)(A)(i).
In determining the best interest of the child, the court may consider the preferences of the child if the child is of a sufficient age and mental capacity to reason, regardless of chronological age. A.C.A. § 9-13-101(a)(1)(A)(ii).
Other factors to be considered may include the parent's behavior at home, financial wellbeing, history of physical or sexual abuse, and drug or alcohol problems.
Yes. Joint custody is now defined as "the approximate and reasonable equal division of time with the child by both parents individually as agreed to by the parents or as ordered by the court." A.C.A. 9-13-101(a)(5). In a divorce case that concerns an original child custody determination, there is a presumption that joint custody is in the best interest of the child. A.C.A. § 9-13-101(a)(1)(A)(iv)(a). This presumption may be rebutted in one or more of five ways:
Typically, you can only file for custody in Arkansas if Arkansas is the state where the child has lived with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least six months in a row before the start of your child-custody case. If the child is younger than six months old, then you can file for custody if Arkansas is the state where the child has lived since birth with a parent or a person acting as a parent. A.C.A. § 9-19-102(7).
Also, if the child is currently absent from Arkansas but Arkansas is the last state in which the child lived for six months in a row, and the parent(s) or the person(s) acting as a parent(s) continues to live in Arkansas during the child's absence, then you may still file for custody.
Yes, a grandparent may be granted custody, depending on the circumstances. According to A.C.A. § 9-13-101(a)(2)(B), a grandparent may petition for custody of a grandchild who is twelve months of age or younger when:
For custody involving a grandchild who is older than twelve months of age, the requirements are the same except that the grandchild must have continuously resided with the grandparent for at least one year, regardless of the child's age.