Arkansas Divorce Laws

Arkansas Divorce

Each state has residency requirements for filing for divorce in that state. Arkansas has these certain residency requirements but they can be different from other states. A court will not accept a divorce case if the needed residency requirements are not met. A case can also be dismissed if the divorce case has been filed in the wrong jurisdiction.

Depending on the place of residency and each specific situation, individuals are to file for divorce in different courts. Arkansas residency requirements state that at least one of the individuals needs to be an Arkansas state resident for a minimum of sixty days before a case can be filed. Arkansas also states that there must be a mandatory waiting period of three months before a divorce case can be finalized.

Divorce cases are to be filed in the resident’s county. When the individual filing for divorce is not a resident of Arkansas but the other spouse is, the case will be filed in the county court of the other spouse. Under these circumstances, the case may be switched to another county due to non-resident proceedings.

Divorce residency requirements for Arkansas

In order to be able to file for divorce in Arkansas, you must ensure that the Chancery Court holds jurisdiction over your case. Usually being able to meet the requirements is only a concern for those who have moved or who are planning to move in the future. The requirements for filing for divorce are as follows:

  • The spouse filing for divorce must be a resident in Arkansas for at least a period of 60 days.
  • There will be a 3-month period of waiting after filing for divorce until the divorce will be finalized.
  • Any divorce proceedings will be held in the county in which the complainant resides.

Filing Grounds in Arkansas

When a divorce is brought to the court, the grounds on which the divorce shall be based are required. The individuals will need to come to an agreement on which grounds their divorce is to be based or those for which the individual filing for divorce will stand to prove to the circuit court. Arkansas has different sections for the grounds that are lawful to be filed under.

The first section of divorcing grounds is called no-fault grounds. Under this section, those involved in the divorce case must have not lived in the same residence or must have been physically separated for a minimum of eighteen months without break. By law, the court has the right to petition divorce of the absolute decree to one or both individuals depending on if the separation was a mutual decision or due to one individual’s fault.

The second grounds section for which divorce is to be filed is called fault grounds. These grounds will name one individual as responsible for the dissolution of the marriage. Fault grounds include addiction to alcohol for a minimum of one year; current and previous impotence of one individual; cruel treatment towards the other individual that may endanger life; convictions of a serious offense or a felony offense; committing adultery while espoused; and specific indignities that name the marriage as intolerable.

Divorce Basics

A certain kind of language is used in court that is not usually used elsewhere. Titles are given and the terms used can be confusing. The individual who is filing for divorce in domestic relations or family law court is called the plaintiff. The individual who did not file for divorce and was later served by the court is called the defendant. The document that is initially filed through the court is called the Complaint about Divorce and the Decree of Divorce. These documents can contain as many as twenty different forms to be processed.

Filing for divorce in Arkansas

In order to apply for a divorce in Arkansas, you will need to file an initial document, which is called the “Complaint for Divorce”. However, there has to be a good reason for requesting a divorce and the marriage can only be terminated under certain conditions, which are as follows and are classed as either no-fault based grounds or fault-based grounds:

No-fault based grounds

  1. If the married couple has been living apart and separate for a period of 18 months
  2. The mutual consent of both partners or a fault of either spouse or both

Fault-based grounds

  1. Impotence
  2. One partner was habitually drunk for 1 year
  3. Conviction of a felony or similar crime
  4. Endangering the life of another by the cruel or barbaric treatment
  5. If one partner suffers indignities that make their life intolerable
  6. Adultery Arkansas Code – Title 9 – Chapters: 12-301

Property division factors when divorcing

Where possible property division should be undertaken by the parties themselves, in which case they must sign a marital settlement agreement. Otherwise, property division is done through the Chancery court within the decree of divorce. As Arkansas is designated as, being an “equitable distribution” state, property division will be as follows:

  1. There will be a discovery process first to determine which property and assets are classed as marital.
  2. A monetary value will have to be assigned to the marital property.
  3. Lastly, the assets will be distributed between the two parties in an equitable fashion which is deemed fair by the Chancery Court.

Usually, the court will give each party one-half unless this does not seem to be a fair solution. If not then factors such as the following may be taken into account:

  1. How long the couple has been married
  2. The age and health of both parties
  3. Their occupations
  4. The amount of income and the sources of income
  5. Vocational skills and employability
  6. The estate, liability, and needs of each of the partners
  7. The contribution of each of the parties, preservation or appreciation of any marital property, which will include the services of the homemaker
  8. The consequences of Federal income tax after property division Arkansas Code – Title 9 – Chapters: 12-315

Child custody factors

The child’s best interests are always taken into account by an Arkansas court. So when making a decision regarding the custody of children both parents will be given equal consideration. If the child is deemed as having the ability and capacity to reason, regardless of their age then their opinion will also be heard by the courts.

Any history of domestic violence according to Arkansas Code – Title 9 – Chapters: 13-101 and the future and past roles of the parents will also be taken into account.

Courts prefer that both parties work out custody issues themselves. However, if this is not possible then the courts will intervene to decide, considering the above factors.