PATERNITY cases are on the rise in Arkansas. Generation Z members are typically not as bound by the previous social and/or moral mandates that marriage accompany a pregnancy.

For example:

In 2009, 6 paternity cases were filed in Washington County, Arkansas.

In 2019, 23 paternity cases were filed in Washington County, Arkansas. That is a 283% increase over those 10 years.

 

*These numbers are provided by via the Arkansas Judiciary.

CUSTODY ISSUES

The statutes in Arkansas containing the laws regarding paternity can be found at A.C.A. §§9-10-102 to 9-10-121. When a child is born to an unmarried woman, legal custody of said child is in the woman giving birth to the child until the child reaches 18 years of age unless a court of competent jurisdiction enters an order placing the child in the custody of another party. A.C.A. §9-10-113.

The Court may award custody to the biological father upon a showing that:

He is a fit parent to raise the child;

He has assumed his responsibilities toward the child by providing care, supervision, protection, and financial support for the child; and

It is in the best interest of the child to award custody to the biological father.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF PATERNITY

Pursuant to A.C.A. §9-10-120,

A man is the father of a child for all intents and purposes if he and the mother execute an acknowledgment of paternity of the child pursuant to A.C.A. §20-18-408 or A.C.A. §20-18-409, or a similar acknowledgment executed during the child’s minority.

Acknowledgments of paternity shall, by operation of law, constitute a conclusive finding of paternity, subject to the modification of orders or judgments under A.C.A. §9-10-115, and shall be recognized by the circuit courts and juvenile divisions thereof as creating a parent and child relationship between father and child.

Such acknowledgments of paternity shall also be recognized as forming the basis for establishment and enforcement of the child support or visitation or without a further proceeding to establish paternity.