Arkansas Advocates for Parental Equality stands for and promotes shared parenting and equal rights for parents, regardless of gender or marital status. We recognize the importance of both parents in a child's life and seek to protect our children from the negative effects of parental alienation. Click here to learn more about our organization.
The Arkansas domestic court system is outdated, discriminatory, and failing our children. The "best interest of the child" is meaningful contact with 2 fit and willing parents. Our goal is to bring equality, fairness, and best outcomes to our state through legislative change and family court reform. Click here to learn more about the things we hope to achieve.
May 2019 - Arkansas passed HB1802 during their 2019 legislative session, becoming the 41st state to adopt the Income Shares model for child support. Previously, Arkansas had used an embarrassingly outdated model that assumed one parent had sole custody while the other worked. Income Shares accounts for the income of both parents as well as the amount of time spent with each parent. It also brings uniformity to the state since there had been no guidelines for child support in cases of joint custody. The law stipulates the deadline to implement the new model is March 1, 2020. Hopefully this will address one of the many inequities in our child support system and start to focus on the child. You can read the bill here and a law firm announcement here.
February 2019 - Arkansas has recently filed legislation to give unmarried fathers rights and equal treatment under the law. In one of the worst examples of gender discrimination, the law currently gives sole custody to the mother, regardless of the circumstances. It then requires the father to prove a number of things that the mother did not, such as that he is a fit parent. If passed into law, HB1486 would create a pathway for unmarried fathers to be determined the parent upfront, remove the additional requirements for fathers, and apply the current "favored" status for joint custody. You can read the bill here and a news story here.
July 2018 - Kentucky now has the strongest shared custody laws in the country. The law, House Bill 528, was signed by Governor Matt Bevin in April and went into effect July 1, 2018. The overwhelmingly popular bill passed the house by a vote of 81-2 and the senate unanimously. What makes this law special is that it is the first in the nation to create a "legal presumption" for joint custody and equally shared parenting time. In contrast, Arkansas law simply states that joint custody is "favored" and has little legal weight. The Kentucky law goes on to specify that this presumption also applies if a court modifies a custody decree. You can read more about the custody law here and here.
January 2018 - The Washington Post has written an article on the shared parenting sentiment that is sweeping across the nation. They report that over 20 states considered laws in support of shared parenting in 2017. Hopefully 2018 will be the year that laws are "passed" and not only "considered." While the article is generally positive on the subject, we would like to address the arguments used by critics of these bills that were presented. 1) These laws never apply in cases of abuse or neglect and judges always have the final say. 2) Potentially eliminating child support is not a valid argument against shared parenting - unless you believe money is more important than your child's wellbeing. 3) Saying the laws are unnecessary because most couples already choose shared parenting is like saying laws against homicide are unnecessary because most people choose not to kill others. You can read the entire article here.
July 2017 - A new law took effect in Kentucky making joint custody and equal parenting time a rebuttable presumption in temporary custody orders. Legally, this means that the 2 parent model is the default starting point and the judge must justify in writing an order of unequal custody during the divorce process. The law, HB 492, passed both houses of the legistature unanimously, reflecting the growing awareness that shared parenting is best. Although there is no such law yet regarding permanent custody orders, temporary custody orders often set a precedent that is followed in the permanent custody order. Of note, Arkansas law does not address temporary custody orders, creating an unregulated "free-for-all" during the divorce process with negative ramifications down the line. You can read more information on this topic here and here.