Child Custody Laws in Arkansas

Child custody laws in many states throughout the country have gone through significant changes within recent decades. Arkansas child custody laws will continue to be changed and updated to find what works best for the growing number of divorced families. It is important to get to know these laws in order to prepare yourself for anything that you might encounter in your child custody case.

Types of custody that Arkansas child custody laws allow

Arkansas child custody laws allow for multiply types of custody that are common with those of most other U.S. states. These include both physical and legal custody. Physical custody refers to the daily care and responsibilities for the child including food, clothing, and shelter. Legal custody refers to the important decision-making responsibilities for the child including decision regarding education, health, and religion. Sole or joint must be applied to both of these types of custody. If sole custody is awarded only one co-parent will have custody and if joint custody is awarded both parents will split these responsibilities. Visitation rights are typically awarded in cases where sole physical custody is awarded to a single co-parent. Most Arkansas family courts and professionals see continuing contact with both co-parents as being in the best interest of the child in most cases.

Arkansas family laws and courts are creating opportunities for co-parents

Arkansas child custody laws allow co-parents to submit and custody plan to the court for review and approval if they are able to reach a shared custody agreement. Arkansas child custody laws require this plan to include details about how custody time will be split, how expenses will be split, and other important factors regarding the shared custody agreement. If co-parents cannot come to an agreement on shared custody, it will be up to the Arkansas child custody laws and courts to determine custody based on the best interest of the child.

How will the Arkansas child custody laws determine your arrangement?

Arkansas child custody laws have changed drastically in recent decades. The courts used to follow the “Tender Years” doctrine, which assumed that the best interest of the child would be to remain in the custody of the mother up until they reach a certain age. Since that time, the Arkansas child custody laws have given equal opportunity to both co-parents regardless of gender. Now, they determine how custody will be awarded based solely on the best interest of the child.

Arkansas child custody laws in the case of unmarried parents

If a child is born to an unmarried woman in Arkansas, legal custody of the child will be given to the mother until the child reaches the age of eighteen. Arkansas child custody laws and courts may award custody to another individual if it is not in the best interest of the child that the mother be awarded custody. If this is the case, the court will typically award custody to the biological father if he can display to the court he is able to care for the child, both physically and financially, and if it is in the child’s best interest that he be awarded custody.

This information is not to be used as legal advice. For additional aide and legal information please consult with an Arkansas family law professional. For a list of resources in Arkansas visit our Helpful Links – Arkansas page. The OurFamilyWizard website® is dedicated to providing co-parents with the tools and resources they need to easily manage their custody agreements.


NOTE: Many state and federal laws use terms like ‘custody’ when referring to arrangements regarding parenting time and decision-making for a child. While this has been the case for many years, these are not the only terms currently used to refer to these topics.

Today, many family law practitioners and even laws within certain states use terms such as ‘parenting arrangements’ or ‘parenting responsibility,’ among others, when referring to matters surrounding legal and physical child custody. You will find these terms as well as custody used on the OurFamilyWizard website.