Who can get custody?
Generally, at least one of the child’s parents is entitled to custody, unless there is strong evidence that both parents are unfit or unless one of the situations described in the following questions apply. A parent who is not granted sole, primary, or joint custody of his or her child is entitled to reasonable parenting time with the child unless the judge determines that parenting time between the parent and the child would seriously endanger the physical, mental, or emotional health of the child.1
If both parents have passed away or they are unfit, the judge can give custody to another person or to an agency, such as the Department of Human Services. What the judge will decide depends on what s/he believes is in the best interest of the child.
Grandparents may also be able to seek custody. See Can the child’s grandparent file for custody?
1 A.C.A. § 9-13-101(a)(1)(A)(vi)(a)