The following is a summary of Arkansas child custody laws, and is by no means intended to be an all-inclusive description of what to expect in your particular case. In some cases, the exact text of the statute may have been simplified and/or modified to provide for easier understanding. For a more specific understanding of the laws, you should consult the full Arkansas Code and/or consult with an attorney about how the law might apply to your particular situation.

Jurisdiction of the Arkansas Court.

Unless grounds exist for temporary emergency jurisdiction, Arkansas Courts have jurisdiction to make an initial child-custody determination only if:

  1. This state is the home state of the child on the date of the commencement of the proceeding, or was the home state of the child within six months before the commencement of the proceeding and the child is absent from this state but a parent or person acting as a parent continues to live in this state;
  2. No other state is the home state of the child, or a court of the home state of the child has declined to exercise jurisdiction on the ground that this state is the more appropriate forum under § 9-19-207 or § 9-19-208, and:
    1. The child and the child’s parents, or the child and at least one parent or a person acting as a parent, have a significant connection with this state other than mere physical presence; and
    2. Substantial evidence is available in this state concerning the child’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships.
  3. All courts having jurisdiction have declined to exercise jurisdiction on the ground that a court of this state is the more appropriate forum to determine the custody of the child; or
  4. No court of any other state would have jurisdiction.

Physical presence of, or personal jurisdiction over, a party or a child is not necessary or sufficient to make a child-custody determination.

A court of this state which has made a child-custody determination consistent with § 9-19-201 or § 9-19-203 has exclusive, continuing jurisdiction over the determination until:

  1. A court of this state determines that neither the child, nor the child and one parent, nor the child and a person acting as a parent have a significant connection with this state and that substantial evidence is no longer available in this state concerning the child’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships; or
  2. A court of this state or a court of another state determines that the child, the child’s parents, and any person acting as a parent do not presently reside in this state.

-From 9-19-201 and 9-19-202 of the Arkansas Code

Factors Determining Child Custody in Arkansas.

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 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 capacity to reason, regardless of chronological age.

When in the best interests of a child, custody shall be awarded in such a way so as to assure the frequent and continuing contact of the child with both parents. To this effect, the circuit court may consider awarding joint custody of a child to the parents in making an order for custody. To this effect, in making an order for custody, the court may consider, among other facts, which party is more likely to allow the child or children frequent and continuing contact with the noncustodial parent and the noncustodial grandparent.

There shall be a rebuttable presumption that it is not in the best interest of the child to be placed in the custody of an abusive parent in cases where there is a finding by a preponderance of the evidence that the parent has engaged in a pattern of domestic abuse.

-From 9-13-101 of the Arkansas Code

Transfer of Custody on School Property.

In order to avoid continuing child custody controversies from involving public school personnel and to avoid disruptions to the educational atmosphere in our public schools, the transfer of a child between the child’s custodial parent and noncustodial parent, when both parents are present, is prohibited from taking place on the real property of a public elementary or secondary school on normal school days during normal hours of school operations. The provisions of this section shall not prohibit one parent, custodial or noncustodial, from transporting the child to school and the other parent, custodial or noncustodial, from picking up the child from school at prearranged times on prearranged days if prior approval has been made with the school’s principal.

-From 9-13-104 of the Arkansas Code

Right of Parents to School Records.

Any noncustodial parent who has been awarded visitation rights by the court with respect to a child shall, upon request, be provided a copy of the current scholastic records of such child by the school district or college attended by the child.

-From 9-13-301 of the Arkansas Code

Parenting Course.

When the parties to a divorce action have minor children residing with one or both parents, the court, prior to or after entering a decree of divorce, may require the parties to complete at least two hours of classes concerning parenting issues faced by divorced parents, or submit to mediation in regard to addressing parenting, custody, and visitation issues.

-From 9-12-322 of the Arkansas Code

 

This information has been summarized from the Arkansas statutes. You can find the full-text version of these and other Arkansas divorce statutes online here: Arkansas Divorce Laws.

LEARN MORE ABOUT GENERAL CHILD CUSTODY LAWS.

GO TO ANOTHER DIVORCE ARTICLE.

 

IMPORTANT: Help Yourself Divorce is a paralegal service, not a law firm. Please don’t rely on this information for legal advice. Seek help from an attorney if you need legal advice.

 

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