EQUAL RIGHTS FOR UNMARRIED FATHERS
According to Arkansas Code 9-10-113, sole custody of children born outside of marriage is automatically awarded to the mother, no matter the circumstances. The father is required to hire an attorney, petition the court, and prove a number of items - none of which were required by the mother - to attain any rights. In the months to years it takes for the case to get to court, a status quo of the child living solely with the mother has been established and creates an additional burden to overcome. This is gender discrimination and has no place in our law.
According to the CDC, 40.6% of all US births and 44.6% of Arkansas births are to unmarried parents. The numbers are close to 70% for minorities. No matter how anybody feels about children born outside of marriage, it is a fact of life. Our legal system must accept it and stop discriminating against unmarried fathers while rewarding unmarried mothers. The “best interest of the child” is being ignored and creating situations where good, willing fathers are being alienated from their children. The statistics on outcomes of children raised without fathers are harrowing, and our laws are at least partly to blame.
Arkansas Advocates for Parental Equality supports:
Unmarried fathers receive the same rights and treatment under the law as divorced parents
New determinations of paternity be considered a "material change of circumstances" to allow for modification of custody
Punitive actions be taken against those who deceive the court regarding matters of paternity