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ARKANSAS LEGISLATION

Our elected representatives are the ones with the greatest ability to bring equality to our family legal system. The Arkansas Senate and House of Representatives websites include the contact information of the legislators. Know who your representatives are and how they stand on issues of parental equality. You can also see current bills being discussed and which members are on committees of interest.

As issues come before our legislature, we will keep you informed on how they they vote on children's and parents rights. We would also like to recognize those who are sponsoring these bills and taking the lead. If you don't like how your legislator is representing your interests, we encourage you to open a civilized dialogue with him or her. It is better to bring them into our movement than to fight through them.

Below are bills pertaining to joint custody, parental rights, and child support since 2013. Titles in blue passed whereas titles in grey did not.

 

ACT 604 (2021)

Title: To amend the law concerning child custody and visitation.

Summary: To create a presumption of joint custody in cases of divorce and paternity, rebuttable by clear and convincing evidence.

Sponsors: Alan Clark (Lonsdale), Jimmy Gazaway (Paragould)

Co-Sponsors: Lowery, Brown, Cloud, C. Cooper, Cozart, Crawford, M. Gray, Haak, Hollowell, Magie, McNair, S. Berry, Christiansen, M. Davis, J. English, M. Johnson, Rapert, B. Ballinger, D. Sullivan, Irvin

Outcome: Passed the Senate 33-2 and House 71-16 (with 13 non-voting or present).

ACT 906 (2019)

Title: To amend the law concerning joint custody and the modification of a child custody decree.

Summary: To protect the custody rights of miliary personel by making any changes that occur due to deployment temporary.

Sponsor: Spencer Hawks (Conway)

Co-Sponsor: Jimmy Gazaway (Paragould)

Outcome: Passed unanimously through the House and Senate.

ACT 907 (2019)

Title: To revise the Family Support Chart to reflect payor and recipient income. 

Summary: To require the Arkansas Child Support Committee to adopt the Income Shares Model by March 1, 2020.

Sponsor: Mark Lowery (Maumelle)

Outcome: Passed unanimously through the House and Senate.

HB1114 (2019)

Title: To create the parent-child intrastate relocation act; to provide factors for a court to consider when determining whether or not a change of a child's principal place of residence is in the child's best interest.

Summary: To require the custodial parent to notify the court and noncustodial parent of a move over a specified distance within the state and, if contested, show why the change of residence is in the child's best interest.

Sponsor: Mark Lowery (Maumelle)

Outcome: Passed committee, voted down in House floor after strong opposing statement from Rep. Sarah Capp (Ozark).

HB1325 (2019)

Title: To amend the law concerning custody of a child.

Summary: To create a presumption of joint custody in cases of divorce and when a modification of custody is ordered.

Sponsor: Mark Lowery (Maumelle)

Outcome: Voted down in committee.

Notes: Attorneys Lauren Hoover and Glen Hoggard spoke against the bill, along with Reps Sarah Capp (Ozark) and Douglas House (N. Little Rock). Reps Jimmy Gazaway (Paragould) and Cindy Crawford (Ft. Smith) spoke in favor of the bill.

HB1486 (2019)

Title: To amend the law concerning custody of a child born outside of marriage.

Summary: To treat custody to unmarried parents the same as in cases of divorce when paternity is known; to remove the additional factors that unmarried fathers must prove prior to seeking custody.

Sponsor: Jimmy Gazaway (Paragould)

Co-Sponsor: Steve Magie (Conway)

Outcome: Died in committee. The bill initially passed committee with 2 "no votes" from Reps. Sarah Capp (Ozark) and Jamie Scott (N. Little Rock). After being revised, committee chair Rep. Carol Dalby (Texarkana) chose not to rehear the bill.

HB1445 (2017)

Title: To create the parent-child relationship protection act; and to provide factors and procedures for determining whether or not a change of a child's principal place of residence is in the best interest of the child.

Summary: To require the custodial parent to notify the court and noncustodial parent of a move over a specified distance and, if contested, show why the change of residence is in the child's best interest.

Sponsor: Mark Lowery (Maumelle)

Outcome: Died in committee

HB1115 (2015)

Title: To create the parent-child relationship protection act; to provide factors for a court to consider when determining whether or not a change of a child's principal place of residence is in the child's best interest.

Summary: To require the custodial parent to notify the court and noncustodial parent of a move over a specified distance and, if contested, show why the change of residence is in the child's best interest.

Sponsor: Mark Lowery (Maumelle)

Co-Sponsors: Mary Hickerson (Texarkana), Rebecca Petty (Rogers)

Outcome: Withdrawn by author; recommended for study

HB1414 (2015)

Title: To revise the family support chart to reflect payor and recipient income. 

Summary: To require Arkansas Child Support Committee to adopt an income shares model, which takes into account both the payor and recipient's income, by 2017.

Sponsor: Mark Lowery (Maumelle)

Outcome: Withdrawn by author; in its place, HR1033 was passed, which was a resolution stating the House of Representatives supports the revision of the child support guidelines as noted above.

HB1670 (2015)

Title: To protect the parental rights of a putative father; and to vacate an adoption within six (6) months from the final adoption order upon evidence of fraud or lack of knowledge of the child's existence.

Summary: To amend rules for adoption in cases of unmarried parents so that the child father's is given preference over the presumptive adoptive parents.

Sponsor: Mark Lowery (Maumelle)

Outcome: Withdrawn by author; recommended for study

ACT 1156 (2013)

Title: An act concerning child custody presumptions in divorce cases; and for other purposes

Summary: To establish joint custody as the "favored" outcome in cases of divorce.

Sponsors: Mark Lowery (Maumelle), Jon Woods (Springdale)

Co-Sponsors: R. Alexander (Fayetteville), J. Baine (El Dorado), B. Ballinger (Hindsville), E. Armstrong (N. Little Rock), J. English (N. Little Rock), M. Neal (Springdale)

Outcome: Passed 113-9 with 12 non-voting

Voted Against: D. Burnett (Osceola), J. Dismang (Beebe), J. Files (Ft. Smith), M. Lamoureux (Russellville), L. Teague (Nashville), D. Kizzia (Malvern), N. Steel (Nashville), J. Vines (Hot Springs), M. Wright (Forrest City)

Notes: 6 of the 9 "Nay" votes were by lawyers - Burnett, Lamoureux, Kizzia, Steel, Vines, and Wright. 9 of the 113 "Yea" votes were lawyers.