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Legal Information: Arkansas


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January 3, 2024

If a custody order is already in place, how can I get it changed?

Because custody is decided based on what is in the best interest of the child, an order is not usually permanent.  If you have a custody order already in place, you can ask the court to make changes to it (modify it).

Generally, the judge will not change the custody order unless there are new facts that were not available to the judge at the time the last order was made, or there has been a “substantial (material) change in circumstances.”  The law specifically names one possible change in circumstances as follows: If, at any time, the judge finds that one parent has shown a pattern of purposefully creating conflict in an attempt to disrupt a joint-custody arrangement, the judge can consider such behavior as a material change of circumstances and can change a joint custody order to an order of primary custody to the non-disruptive parent.1

To modify a custody order, you usually need to go to the court that issued the order, even if you have moved.  Generally, once a court has jurisdiction (the power to hear the case), that court will keep jurisdiction over all future custody decisions.  In some situations, if you and your child have moved, you can ask the court to change the jurisdiction to the new state, or county, that you are in.  For more information, see our Changing a final custody order section of our general Custody page.  Trying to change the venue (location) of a case can be complicated and if you have moved to a new state, we recommend that you talk to a lawyer for help and advice.  Go to the AR Finding a Lawyer page to find someone who can help you.

1 A.C.A. § 9-13-101(b)(1)(A)(iii)

If I move to a new state, can I transfer my child custody case there?

After a final custody order is issued, there may come a time when you and your children move to a different state. For information about how to request to transfer the custody case to a new state, please go to the Transferring a custody case to a different state section in our general Custody page. However, it’s important to keep in mind that you may likely first need to get permission from the court or from the other parent to move your children out of state. Please talk to a lawyer to make sure your plans to move don’t violate your custody order or your state’s parental kidnapping laws.

Can a parent who does not have custody have access to the child’s records?

Any parent who has been awarded visitation rights by the court can ask for the child’s school records. Public school districts or colleges may be required by law to release those records to a parent with visitation rights. It is common for both parents to be granted equal access to all medical and education records, as well as free access to the medical care providers and educators.1

1 A.C.A. § 9-13-301