What You Need To Know About Divorce In Arkansas
Katie Freeman and Charlie Cunningham
Navigating a divorce and everything it entails can be a difficult and draining experience. People often find themselves confused about questions that their divorce attorney could answer better and become frustrated about the lack of advice and answers. At ARlaw, we want help put you, your children, and your spouse in the best position to move forward with your personal, mental, emotional, and spiritual healing during and after divorce.
THE FACTS ABOUT FAMILY LAW
In a multi-part blog series, ARlaw Partners will explore several areas of family law, and help answer your questions about divorce, custody, child support, and alimony in Arkansas.
PART 1: DIVORCE
Navigating a divorce and everything it entails can be a difficult and draining experience. People often find themselves confused about questions that their divorce attorney could answer better and become frustrated about the lack of advice and answers.
In today’s blog, we’ve written about Arkansas divorces, and will explain how to begin the stressful process – with less stress. At ARlaw, we want help put you, your children, and your spouse in the best position to move forward with your personal, mental, emotional, and spiritual healing during and after divorce.
DIVORCE IN ARKANSAS 101
Like all other states, Arkansas does its own thing when it comes to family law, so it’s important to understand how Arkansas law is set up for divorces. For example, Arkansas is a “fault state” for divorce. There must be grounds for divorce, or a fault.
Who is at fault? What are the grounds for divorce in Arkansas?
Arkansas, someone must be considered at fault to be granted a divorce. The person who is filing for divorce must show that he or she has a reason for divorce – actions the other person caused. There are nine reasons in Arkansas listed as possible grounds for divorce. The most common reason is called “general indignities,” which means that married life with your spouse has become so insufferable that it is no longer acceptable to continue being married to him/her.
The entire list of reasons for divorce is:
The spouse who is at fault is having a sexual relationship of any kind with someone else who isn’t his or her spouse.
- Habitual drunkenness
The spouse at fault has engaged in regular drunkenness for a period of one (1) year or greater.
The at-fault spouse has been convicted of a felony.
- Continuous Separation
The couple has lived separate and apart for a continuous period of eighteen (18) months.
The couple has lived separate and apart for a period of three (3) years because one of the spouses has been committed to a mental institution for mental illness.
- Cruel and Barbarous Treatment
The spouse who is at fault has been cruel or abusive to the not-at-fault spouse. The cruel treatment must have been treatment that endangers the life or impairs the health of the spouse.
- General indignities
As mentioned, this is the most common ground for divorce in Arkansas. The not-at-fault spouse must show that the at-fault spouse has continuously treated him/her with rudeness, hate, alienation, and estrangement, so much so that the quality of life is not tolerable.
The spouse has experienced impotence at the time of marriage and continuing to the date of filing for divorce.
- Failure to Provide Legally Obligated Support
The at-fault spouse essentially has a legal obligation to support the not-at-fault spouse as well as the ability to but does not.
Each of these grounds must be proven to have taken place in Arkansas and within the last five years of the marriage before filing the official Complaint for Divorce. ARlaw Partners in Little Rock and Northwest Arkansas can answer any more questions you might have about reasons you can file for divorce.
When will I be able to file for divorce in Arkansas?
In Arkansas, either of the two spouses must be a resident of the state for a minimum of sixty (60) days before divorce can be filed.
How long will a divorce take in Arkansas?
This depends on whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. A “contested divorce” is a divorce where you and your partner cannot agree on the terms of the separation, and may take up to a year or longer. An “uncontested divorce” means you and your partner agree on all terms of the separation in advance, and may last only a month or two.
What is the quickest and cheapest way to get a divorce in Arkansas?
There are several things that need to be determined in a divorce, including custody and visitation of minor children, child support, distribution of your assets and property, and spousal support, if applicable.
The quickest way to get a divorce is if you and your spouse agree to the terms, meaning the divorce is “uncontested.” Your attorney should walk you through the process and draft the documents that will be sent, ensuring that all necessary information is included. Next, your spouse will sign off on the agreement. This process can take as little as 30 days from filing your Complaint for Divorce. After that, your until Decree of Divorce will be signed by the Judge. Uncontested divorces are generally much less expensive than contested divorces.
What can I do if my spouse does not want to get divorced?
If you and your spouse are not in agreement about getting a divorce or are not in agreement about the terms of the divorce, you will need to litigate your divorce case i.e. open a court case to make the divorce happen.
This process begins by filing a Complaint for Divorce and having it served (delivered) to your spouse. Your spouse will then have 30 days to respond to the claims alleged in your Complaint for Divorce. At the hearing, you will need to prove the grounds for divorce, as well as your arguments for custody and visitation of minor children, child support, asset distribution, property distribution, and spousal support. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Judge will make a decision about all of these issues.
But note, there is always a possibility you can settle your case before the hearing so you don’t have to go before a judge. This happens is very common in many divorce and custody cases.
Do I have to serve my spouse?
You will have to “serve” your spouse with your Complaint for Divorce after it has been filed unless your spouse does not desire to contest the divorce. This is usually done through a certified process server, who will deliver the documents to your spouse. Your lawyer will set this up. Other methods of service include service through certified mail and through the sheriff’s office. If you are unable to locate your spouse after diligent attempts, the Court may allow you to serve your spouse by publishing a warning in the local newspaper.
When may I remarry or begin a new relationship during a divorce proceeding in Arkansas?
Attempting to remarry or beginning any new relationships before the divorce proceeding is finalized will count as fault and give the other parent grounds for divorce. Only after the court has finalized the divorce can either parent remarry or begin a new relationship without any fault.
How can I begin preparing for a divorce?
Schedule a consultation with a lawyer, and begin gathering your evidence, i.e., take note of phone calls, text messages, and document your interactions with your spouse.
Does Arkansas allow no-fault divorces?
Yes. However, the couple wishing to get divorced must continually live separate and apart for a minimum period of eighteen (18) months.
How are assets and property divided in Arkansas during a divorce?
Arkansas abides by the “equitable distribution” of the estate, which means it shall be divided according to what is fair and equitable as determined by the Court. Spouses may enter into a Marital Separation Agreement or a Property Settlement Agreement where property is personally divided between the two parties, but these agreements must be approved by the judge.
We hope this overview helped answer questions you might have about the basics of Arkansas divorce. ARlaw Partners Family Law attorneys offer free consultations and would be happy to see how we can help. We may be reached at the “Contact Us” button below. But ultimately, we want you to find a reputable Arkansas lawyer who will be the best fit for you – no matter where you go to start your next life chapter.
Stay tuned for our next blog in the Family Law series where we talk about custody in Arkansas.