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Arkansas Divorce Law

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Divorce laws in Arkansas cover aspects of divorce such as alimony, property distribution, child support and custody. Many of these laws are complicated, so speak to a local Arkansas divorce lawyer to get legal advice on how to handle your divorce.

For your convenience, the chart below summarizes a few of the key concepts of Arkansas's divorce laws:

Arkansas State Laws

  • Fault/No-Fault: Fault
  • Property Distribution: Equitable
  • ADR Available: Yes
  • Parenting Plan Required: No

Arkansas Grounds for Divorce

Under Arkansas divorce law, a couple may file under no fault or fault grounds for divorce.

The Arkansas divorce courts will grant a no fault divorce if the husband and wife have lived separate and apart for 18 continuous months without cohabitation. A no fault divorce will be granted whether the separation was voluntary by one spouse or mutual consent by both spouses.

During the no fault divorce process, the couple may need to recognize Arkansas divorce waiting periods.

One spouse may also file for fault divorce under the grounds such as:

  • Impotency at the time of marriage
  • Conviction of a felony or other infamous crime
  • Habitual drunkenness for one year
  • Cruel treatment that endangers the other spouse's life
  • Offer indignities to the other spouse that makes the living condition intolerable
  • Adultery

When filing for divorce, the couple will need to meet the Arkansas residency requirement before the divorce court will accept the divorce petition.

Arkansas divorce law and state requirements can make the divorce process more complicated, and there may be exceptions to the rules.

Arkansas Residency Requirements

Arkansas divorce law has state residency requirements for divorce that the petitioner must meet to file for divorce.

For the Arkansas divorce court to accept a divorce petition, the petitioner needs to live in Arkansas for 60 days before filing for divorce and be a resident of the state for three months before the final divorce decree is entered.

The divorce proceedings will take place in the county where the petitioner lives unless the petition isn't a resident of the state but the respondent is a resident.

If this is the case, the divorce proceedings will be in the county where the respondent lives; however, in any divorce, it is possible the Arkansas divorce court can direct the divorce proceedings to another county in particular situations.

Establishing residency in a state varies, depending on divorce laws. A local divorce lawyer can explain the different requirements you will need to meet to be a resident of the state.

Arkansas Divorce Waiting Period

Before filing for divorce in Arkansas, there is a waiting period of 18 months. The petitioner also needs to meet the Arkansas residency requirement.

Once the divorce petition has been filed, Arkansas divorce law requires the couple wait 30 days to 3 months before the divorce is finalized. The divorce waiting periods ranges, depending on the circumstances of your divorce.

After the divorce petition has been finalized, Arkansas divorce law doesn't require either spouse to recognize a waiting period before remarrying.

Arkansas divorce waiting periods can vary, depending on particular situations during the divorce process.

Arkansas Alternatives to Divorce

Annulment

With an annulment, it's as if the marriage never existed because it wasn't legal by state law. The Arkansas divorce court will declare the marriage void and making it possible to get an annulment if one spouse was:

  • Incapable of consenting to marriage because of age or an incapacity
  • Unable to consummate the marriage because of impotency
  • Made to give consent to the marriage through force or fraud

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative dispute resolution includes ways for a couple to work through the divorce process without having decisions Arkansas divorce court. Through different forms of alternative dispute resolutions, such as divorce mediation, divorce arbitration or collaborative divorce, couples can decide issues during divorce.

State divorce laws may require divorcing parents to attend parenting classes or attempt divorce mediation to work out parenting, Arkansas child custody and child visitation rights.

Arkansas Property Division

Arkansas divorce law makes the state an equitable distribution state when it comes to property distribution. Property is divided in a manner that is considered fair by the Arkansas court when filing divorce.

Under Arkansas divorce law, couples have the right to divide the property amongst themselves; however, if the parties can't reach an agreement about property distribution, the Arkansas divorce court will give each spouse half of the marital property, unless the divorce court finds the division inequitable.

If splitting marital property in half isn't considered fair, the Arkansas divorce court will consider the following factors when making property divisions:

  • Length of marriage
  • Age, health and station of each spouse
  • Each spouse's occupation, vocational skills and employability
  • Amount and sources of income for each spouse
  • Estate, liabilities and needs of each party and the opportunity of each spouse for future acquisition of income
  • Contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, preservation or appreciation of marital property, including contributions as a homemaker
  • Federal income tax consequences of the property division

Find out how the circumstances of your divorce may affect property division in your case by working with a local divorce lawyer.

Arkansas Alimony

Arkansas divorce courts can award alimony to either spouse for support and maintenance when filing divorce. Alimony can also be referred to as maintenance or spousal support.

When making an Arkansas alimony award, the divorce court will consider the financial circumstances of the couple and determine the award on a case-by-case basis. A local Arkansas divorce lawyer can go over your divorce and discuss how issues like Arkansas child custody, Arkansas child support and other relevant factors may affect the alimony award.

Alimony will automatically cease if the spouse awarded alimony:

  • Remarries
  • Establishes a relationship that leads to a child
  • Has a relationship equivalent to remarriage

Arkansas Child Custody

Typically, divorce courts like to assign joint child custody to parents filing divorce to help ensure a child has the chance to have a lasting relationship with both parents; however, this is not always possible because of some circumstances of the divorce.

State divorce laws require the divorce court act in the best interest of the child when determining child custody.

The divorce court may consider the wishes and preferences of the child, if the child is a mature age to to make a decision. There are many other considerations the Arkansas divorce court may take into account when deciding child custody.

Arkansas Grandparent Visitation

Visitation rights for grandparents aren't automatically granted in most divorce courts; however, most states have adopted divorce laws that allow grandparents petition for child visitation rights.

In Arkansas grandparents may petition for child visitation even if Arkansas child custody is assigned to someone other than one or both of the child's biological or adoptive parents. The Arkansas divorce court will award custody or child visitation to the grandparents if it's considered to be in the best interest of the child.

Arkansas divorce laws allow a grandparent to be heard in any child custody proceedings for a grandchild one year old or younger when the grandchild has lived with the grandparent for six months before his or her first birthday.

During that time, the grandparent should have been the primary caregiver for and financial supporter of the grandchild. The custody needs to have been  continuous and within one year of the start of the child custody proceedings.

If the child is one year old or older, a grandparent can be heard in a child custody hearing if the grandchild lives with the grandparent for at least one year - regardless of age and during the time the grandchild lived with the grandparent, the grandparent was the primary caregiver for and financial supporter of the grandchild.

The year that the grandchild lived with the grandparent needs to be continuous and have happened within a year from the start of custody proceedings.

Arkansas Child Support

Arkansas divorce courts may order either parent to pay child support.

To decide a child support order when couples are filing divorce, the Arkansas divorce court uses the percentage of income formula to determine the amount of child support as a percentage of the income of the parent ordered to pay. The number of children requiring support is used to figure out the percentage of income the parent will be ordered to pay.

Under state divorce laws, the divorce court must make sure the child support order is reasonable by considering the circumstances of the parent and child, as well as the nature of the divorce. The Arkansas divorce court may find that the child support guidelines are inappropriate for the circumstances.

If this is the case, the court will use the following factors to consider deviating from the guidelines:

  • Any necessary medical, dental or psychological care or insurance
  • The creation or maintenance of a trust fund for the child
  • Daycare expenses
  • Extraordinary time spent with the noncustodial parent
  • Any additional support provided by the parent obligate to pay support

An official Affidavit of Financial Means must be filed with divorce cases that involve issues relating to child support.

Arkansas Child Support Enforcement

Divorce courts order Arkansas child support when couples are filing for divorce to help protect the child's financial future and provide a standard of the living the child would have enjoyed if the family had stayed together.

When parents don't pay child support, the state uses penalties to help with child support enforcement. Many states face the problem of collecting unpaid child support, so to help, states have established child support enforcement agencies.

A parent that skips paying Arkansas child support may face:

  • Wage withholding, including military wages
  • Liens on real and personal property and financial accounts
  • Interception of Federal and State income tax refunds
  • Interception of unemployment, retirement and worker's compensation
  • Reporting past due child support to credit bureaus
  • Suspension of business, professional, regular and commercial driver's licenses and recreational licenses

Please understand that this information is provided for illustration purposes only and is not legal advice. An Arkansas divorce lawyer can further explain Arkansas divorce law and how to handle your divorce. Connect today by calling 877-349-1310 or filling out an Arkansas divorce case review form.

The above synopsis of Arkansas divorce laws is by no means all-inclusive and has been adapted from applicable state laws. These laws may have changed since our last update and there may be additional laws that apply in your situation. For the latest information on these divorce laws, please contact a local Arkansas divorce lawyer in your area.

This "Arkansas Divorce Laws" page was last updated May 2009.

Note: Keep in mind that all divorce laws are complex. If you need legal divorce advice or want to fully understand how these laws affect you, please speak with a local divorce attorney.