Child Custody in Arkansas

fam“Who will get custody? What does a judge look at to decide? What are my chances?”

Parents going through divorce are usually most worried about what will happen to their children. They often have many questions and concerns about what they should and shouldn’t do. This guide may answer a few of those questions. However, if you’re in this situation, you should contact a family law attorney about your particular case.

Best Interests

In Arkansas, the sole consideration of a judge in deciding custody is what is in the best interest of the child. In considering what’s in their best interest, the court can look at a variety of factors. It will often consider the psychological relationship between the parents and the child, and the child’s need for stability and continuity in her relationships with her parents, school or siblings. It will sometimes consider evidence bearing on the parents’ moral character and it will look at the parents’ past conduct towards the child. If the child is of sufficient age and maturity, the court will even consider the child’s own preferences in determining custody. Practically any factor that directly bears on the child’s best interest can be brought in.

Mothers vs. Fathers

What can’t be considered? The gender of the parents. Under Arkansas law, the award of custody of a child is made without regard to the sex of a parent. This means that mothers do not automatically have the favor of the court. To this end, Arkansas has abolished what was called the “tenders years doctrine” which said that a young child is best suited to live with his or her mother during their youngest years. Now, mothers and fathers are treated equally under the law.

Both Parents

In fact, Arkansas law says that absent some other concern like domestic violence, custody should be awarded in such a way so as to assure the frequent and continuing contact of the child with both parents. And fault in a divorce action is not a relevant factor to be considered.

Why You Need a Lawyer

Working with an experienced family law attorney who has seen custody cases play out in court is your best chance at getting custody. These lawyers know what judges are looking for and can help you present your best case.

If you would like to speak to a lawyer about your particular case, contact Leslie Copeland for a free consultation.


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