How is custody decided in Arkansas?

It does not get much simpler than this question. That’s right. I said it. The question of how child custody is decided in Arkansas is easy. It’s decided “solely in accordance with the welfare and best interest of the child.” Ark. Code Ann. §9-13-101(a).


That’s all folks. Custody is decided by what is in the best interest of the child. Period.


But wait . . . How do Arkansas courts decide what is in the best interest of the child? Ah ha! There in lies the difficulty of the subject.


Luckily, though the decision of what is in the best interest of the child is a difficult one, the Arkansas Supreme Court has given us factors that the trial court may consider when deciding what custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child.


The trial court may consider all relevant factors in making its determination about what custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child, including:


· Psychological relationships between the parents and the child;

· The need for stability and continuity in child’s relationship with the parents and siblings;

· The past conduct of the parents toward the child; and

· The preference of the child if the child is of a sufficient age and mental capacity to reason.


The truth is, there is a simple, specific phrase that answers the question of how custody is decided in Arkansas. However, the concept is more complex than the simple answer. The types of evidence one could present to support his or her proposed custody arrangement are endless. The goal is to present evidence that gives the trial court a clear understanding of the situation of the child and parents so that he or she may arrive at a clear determination about what is in the best interest of the child.

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