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One of the reasons there is little to no accountability in family court is because things occur behind closed doors. Hearings and motions occur with only one party present that result in the loss of one's parental rights. Personal recording devices are not allowed in the courtroom. There is a recording and transcript, but you must pay the court to obtain it. In some cases, the recording is "lost" or something is missing on the transcript. All of this exists to benefit the judiciary, not the people.

Arkansas Advocates for Parental Equality believes:

  • Personal recording devices in court should be the norm, not the exception.

  • Court transcripts and recordings should be free to all involved parties

  • Any communications made with the court in an ex parte proceeding must be recorded and available to the accused party


Benchbooks are written by the Administrative Office of the Courts for use by judges and attorneys as a quick reference to the Arkansas Code and case law. It was pointed out during the legislative hearings for Act 604 of 2021 that the Domestic Relations benchbook suggested it was acceptable to disregard the existing law on joint custody. Since that time, a disclaimer has been added to the court website and the benchbooks were taken offline for an extended period. Keeping these references only in the hands of attorneys and judges puts the public and pro se litigants at a disadvantage and allows the judiciary to continue avoiding transparency and accountability. In the event the benchbooks are taken offline again, the Arkansas Domestic Relations Benchbook is available below.

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