Arkansas Divorce Laws
Divorce is one of the most stressful events in a person’s life. And the process can become much more difficult when you don’t understand the laws or your legal obligations when filing for or going through a divorce. As with any legal matter, Arkansas divorce laws may change over time, and you may have a hard time feeling confident that you are meeting state requirements and court orders.
The following information provides an overview of Arkansas divorce laws and procedures, but is not intended as legal advice. You should always consider consulting with an experienced attorney when taking legal action.
Filing for Divorce
Arkansas divorce laws specify a few restrictions when filing for divorce. To begin, you must be an Arkansas resident and have lived in the state for at least 60 days before filing. In most cases, the proceedings will take place in the complainant’s county of residence.
You must also have appropriate grounds when filing for divorce. You and your spouse must agree on the grounds of the divorce, or the complainant must be able to prove and provide witnesses substantiating his or her reasons for filing. If you are seeking a divorce but your partner is refusing to cooperate, it is your responsibility as the complainant to show that the marriage should be dissolved. You might show that you and your spouse have been separated for 18 months, for example.
Common grounds for divorce include:
- Conviction for felonies or other major crimes
- Addiction that lasts at least one year
- Abuses that endanger the life of the other spouse
- Indignities and cruel treatment
- Separation lasting 18 months
The Divorce Process
Filing for divorce is only the first step in the divorce process, but you can make this legal event less intimidating by understanding how the process works and what your responsibilities will be.
Arkansas divorce laws require you to notify the defendant about the divorce and give him or her a chance to respond – generally 30 days. The Arkansas Rules of Civil Procedure specify the process for notifying the defendant in extenuating circumstances – if he or she cannot be found or is in prison, for example.
In many cases, the two divorcing parties are able to come to an agreeable settlement, but a divorce case will be decided by a judge if the two cannot come to terms. The following issues – among others – will be decided during the divorce.
- Child custody and whether or not the children will be able to move from the state
- Visitation schedule
- Paying additional expenses like medical bills that extend beyond child support
- Division of property and debts acquired during the marriage
- Child support
Divorce is a complicated, often stressful and sometimes lengthy legal event, taking a minimum of 30 days and potentially much longer if you are unable to agree on multiple issues. Once your divorce is finalized, the terms can only be changed by the judge, and you must be able to show a material change in circumstances since the last decree.
While there are two primary documents often associated with a divorce – the Complaint for Divorce (filing) and the Decree of Divorce (settlement) – you may need to complete 10 or more additional documents during the divorce proceedings. An experienced attorney can help you understand and meet your legal obligations, navigate required paperwork and represent your interests so you can feel less stressed and more secure and confident throughout the divorce process.
If you are filing for divorce or believe you may soon go through a divorce, you may wish to schedule a free consultation with an experienced divorce and family law attorney. Attorney Ben T. Roberds is one of Northwest Arkansas’ premier divorce attorneys, and will help you protect your rights and your family. The Roberds Law Firm is located on the Bentonville Square, overlooking the historic courthouse and the original Wal-Mart 5 and Dime.