Online Divorce In Arkansas
Grounds for Divorce in Arkansas
In Arkansas, as in many states, divorces may be sought on no-fault or fault-based grounds. Understanding the distinctions between these two types of grounds is essential, as they can significantly impact the divorce process and potentially affect the outcome.
A. No-fault grounds
According to Arkansas Code Annotated § 9-12-301, one of the grounds for divorce in the state is no-fault, which is based on a general separation. To qualify for a no-fault divorce, the parties must demonstrate that they have lived separate and apart from one another, without cohabitation, for at least 18 months. Notably, the separation must be voluntary, with both parties acknowledging the marital relationship is irretrievably broken and that there is no reasonable likelihood of reconciliation.
B. Fault grounds
In addition to no-fault divorces, Arkansas law provides fault-based grounds for divorce. These grounds require the petitioner to establish that the other party engaged in specific misconduct that led to the marriage breakdown. Fault-based divorces can have a bearing on issues such as the division of marital assets, spousal support, and child custody, depending on the nature and severity of the misconduct.
Examples of fault grounds
Arkansas Code Annotated § 9-12-301 outlines several fault-based grounds for divorce, including but not limited to:
When one spouse is incapable of engaging in sexual intercourse, and the condition existed at the time of marriage.
2. Conviction of a felony or infamous crime:
If one spouse is convicted of a felony or an infamous crime during the marriage, it can serve as grounds for a fault-based divorce.
3. Habitual drunkenness:
If one spouse is habitually intoxicated with alcohol for at least one year, it can be grounds for a fault-based divorce.
4. Cruel and inhuman treatment:
When one spouse subjects the other to cruel and barbarous treatment that endangers the other spouse’s life, it may serve as a fault-based ground for divorce.
If one spouse engages in extramarital sexual relations during the marriage, it can be grounds for a fault-based divorce.
6. Incurable insanity:
In cases where one spouse has been afflicted with incurable insanity for at least three years, it can be considered grounds for a fault-based divorce.
7. Willful failure to support:
If one spouse willfully neglects or refuses to provide necessary support and maintenance to the other spouse, despite having the means to do so, it can serve as a fault-based ground for divorce. This ground typically applies when neglect is persistent and without justifiable cause.
Before filing for divorce in Arkansas, it is important to understand the residency requirements that must be met to ensure the court has jurisdiction to hear the case.
A. Minimum residency period
Under Arkansas Code Annotated § 9-12-307, at least one spouse must have been a state resident for a minimum of 60 days immediately before filing the divorce petition. The residency requirement must be met to establish jurisdiction with the court.
B. Filing for divorce in the appropriate county
In addition to the state residency requirement, the petitioner must file for divorce in the county where either the petitioner or respondent resides. If the respondent is a non-resident of Arkansas, the petitioner can file the divorce petition in the county where the petitioner resides.
Adherence to these residency requirements is crucial to ensure that the divorce proceedings are properly initiated and can proceed without jurisdictional issues. Failure to meet these requirements may result in the dismissal of the case or the need to refile in the appropriate jurisdiction.
Filing for Divorce: The Process(Complete Steps)
Navigating the divorce process in Arkansas involves several steps, from preparing the necessary documents to finalizing the divorce with the court. The following is an overview of the key steps in the process:
Step 1. Preparing the necessary documents
- Complaint for Divorce: The petitioner, or the spouse initiating the divorce, must prepare a document called the Complaint for Divorce. This document outlines the grounds for divorce, the parties involved, and any specific requests pertaining to property division, spousal support, child custody, and other relevant issues.
- Financial affidavits and supporting documents: Both spouses may be required to complete financial affidavits, providing information on their income, assets, debts, and expenses. These documents and any supporting documentation are important for determining the equitable distribution of property and potentially spousal support.
Step 2. Filing the documents with the court
The petitioner must file the completed Complaint for Divorce and other required documents with the appropriate county circuit court clerk’s office. A filing fee will be charged, which may vary by county.
Step 3. Serving the documents to the other party
Once the divorce petition is filed, the respondent, or the spouse receiving the divorce papers, must be adequately served with the Complaint for Divorce and a summons. This can be accomplished through a process server, sheriff’s office, or by certified mail with a return receipt requested. The respondent will have a specified time frame, usually 30 days, to respond to the Complaint.
Step 4. Responding to the Complaint
The respondent must file a written response, known as an Answer, with the court within the specified time frame (usually 30 days). In the Answer, the respondent can agree or disagree with the claims made in the Complaint for Divorce and can make counterclaims if necessary. If the respondent fails to respond within the allotted time, the court may enter a default judgment in favor of the petitioner.
Step 5. Temporary orders and hearings
In some cases, it may be necessary to request temporary orders from the court to address urgent issues such as child custody, child support, spousal support, or use of the marital home while the divorce is pending. The court may schedule a hearing to resolve these temporary matters until a final divorce decree is issued.
Step 6. Discovery process and negotiations
During the discovery phase, both parties exchange information and documents related to their finances, assets, and other relevant issues. This process allows each spouse to understand the marital estate clearly and can help facilitate negotiations for a potential settlement.
Step 7. Mediation or collaborative divorce options
If the parties cannot agree, they may choose to participate in mediation or pursue a collaborative divorce. Both options involve working with neutral professionals to facilitate negotiations and reach a mutually agreeable settlement.
Step 8. Preparing for trial (if necessary)
The case may proceed to trial if the parties cannot reach a settlement through negotiations or alternative dispute resolution methods. Both spouses and their attorneys will prepare and present their cases before the judge, ultimately deciding on property division, spousal support, child custody, and other contested issues.
Step 9. Finalizing the divorce
Once the court issues a final divorce decree, which addresses all matters related to property division, spousal support, child custody, and other pertinent issues, the divorce process is considered complete. Both parties must adhere to the terms outlined in the decree.
It is important to note that either spouse can appeal the court’s decision within a specific time frame if they believe a legal error was made during the trial. Suppose there are any substantial changes in circumstances after the divorce is finalized, such as changes in income or the needs of the children. In that case, either party can petition the court to modify the existing orders.
Finally, understanding the various steps involved in the divorce process in Arkansas can help individuals better prepare for the challenges ahead and make informed decisions to protect their interests. By carefully navigating the process, from filing the initial documents to finalizing the divorce, individuals can work towards a more efficient and amicable dissolution of their marriage.
Division of Assets and Debts in Arkansas
One of the critical aspects of a divorce is the division of marital assets and debts. In Arkansas, the courts follow the principle of equitable distribution, which means that assets and debts are divided fairly, but not necessarily equally, between spouses.
A. Equitable distribution in Arkansas
Pursuant to Arkansas Code Annotated § 9-12-315, the courts are tasked with dividing marital property just and equitably under the circumstances. It is important to note that equitable distribution does not automatically result in a 50-50 split of assets and debts; instead, the court will consider various factors to determine what constitutes a fair division.
B. Factors considered by the court
The court will take into account several factors when determining the equitable distribution of assets and debts, including but not limited to the following:
- The length of the marriage;
- The age, health, and occupation of each spouse;
- The amount and sources of income for each spouse;
- The employability and earning capacity of each spouse;
- The contribution of each spouse to the acquisition, preservation, or appreciation of marital property;
- The value of each spouse’s separate property;
- The debts and liabilities of each spouse;
- The needs of each spouse, including their future financial circumstances;
- The standard of living established during the marriage;
- The tax consequences of the property division;
- The custodial arrangements for any minor children; and
- Any other factors the court deems relevant in achieving an equitable distribution.
C. Marital and separate property
In Arkansas, property acquired during the marriage is generally considered marital property, subject to division in the divorce. However, certain assets may be classified as separate property, not subject to division. Separate property may include:
- Property owned by either spouse before the marriage;
- Inheritances or gifts received by either spouse during the marriage, if kept separate;
- Property acquired during the marriage in exchange for separate property, if kept separate; and
- Any increase in value or income derived from the separate property if kept separate.
It is important to correctly identify and classify marital and separate property to ensure a fair and accurate division of assets.
D. Division of debts
Similar to assets, marital debts must also be equitably divided between spouses. These debts typically include any financial obligations incurred during the marriage, such as mortgages, credit card debts, and loans. The court will consider the same factors as the division of assets when determining how to allocate debts between spouses.
Understanding the principles of equitable distribution in Arkansas and the factors the court considers is crucial for parties going through a divorce. By familiarizing themselves with these principles, individuals can better protect their financial interests and work towards a fair and equitable division of assets and debts.
Spousal Support in Arkansas
Spousal support, also known as alimony, is a payment made by one spouse to the other to provide financial assistance after a divorce. In Arkansas, spousal support is not automatically granted and must be requested by the spouse seeking support.
A. Determining the need for spousal support
According to Arkansas Code Annotated § 9-12-312, the court may grant spousal support if it deems that one spouse has a demonstrated need for financial assistance and the other can pay. Spousal support aims to help the recipient spouse maintain a reasonable standard of living, similar to what was established during the marriage, and to allow for a transition to financial independence, if possible.
B. Factors considered by the court
When determining the amount and duration of spousal support, the court will consider various factors, including but not limited to the following:
- The financial resources of the spouse seeking support, including their earning capacity and separate property;
- The time necessary for the spouse seeking support to acquire sufficient education or training to enable them to find appropriate employment;
- The standard of living established during the marriage;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The age, physical, and emotional condition of both spouses;
- The ability of the paying spouse to meet their own financial needs while providing support to the other spouse; and
- Any other factors the court deems relevant.
C. Types of spousal support
Several types of spousal support may be awarded in Arkansas, depending on the specific circumstances of the case:
- Temporary support: This type of support may be granted during the divorce proceedings to help the spouse in need meet their financial obligations until the final divorce decree is issued.
- Rehabilitative support: Rehabilitative support is designed to provide the recipient spouse with financial assistance for a limited period, allowing them to obtain the education or training necessary to become self-sufficient.
- Permanent support: Permanent support may be awarded in cases where the recipient spouse cannot become financially independent due to age, disability, or the length of the marriage. This support typically continues until the recipient spouse remarries, cohabitates with a new partner, or either party dies.
- Lump-sum support: The court may sometimes order a lump-sum payment instead of ongoing monthly support. This can be particularly useful when there are concerns about the paying spouse’s ability to make payments consistently over time.
D. Modification of spousal support
Spousal support orders may be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances for either party, such as a significant increase or decrease in income or a change in the recipient spouse’s financial needs. To request a modification, the party seeking the change must petition the court and provide evidence of the changed circumstances.
Understanding the factors and types of spousal support in Arkansas can help to divorce parties navigate the financial aspects of their separation more effectively. Individuals can seek appropriate support arrangements that best address their needs and circumstances by considering the relevant factors and working with legal counsel.
Child Custody and Visitation
In Arkansas, the courts make decisions regarding child custody and visitation based on the child’s best interests. The primary goal is to ensure that the child’s needs are met and that they have a stable and nurturing environment.
A. Determining the best interests of the child
Arkansas Code Annotated § 9-13-101 outlines the factors that the court must consider when determining the best interests of the child, including but not limited to:
- The child’s preferences, if they are of sufficient age and maturity to express a reasonable preference;
- The parents’ wishes regarding custody;
- The child’s relationship with each parent, siblings, and other significant individuals;
- The child’s adjustment to their home, school, and community;
- The mental and physical health of all parties involved;
- The willingness of each parent to encourage a close relationship between the child and the other parent;
- The stability of each parent’s home environment; and
- Any history of domestic violence or child abuse.
B. Types of custody
There are two main types of custody in Arkansas: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to where the child resides, while legal custody is the right and responsibility to make decisions about the child’s upbringing, education, healthcare, and religious upbringing.
Joint custody: Joint custody can be awarded to both parents, allowing them to share the child’s physical and/or legal custody. This arrangement promotes ongoing involvement and cooperation between parents in raising their children.
Sole custody: In some cases, the court may determine that it is in the best interest of the child for one parent to have sole physical and/or legal custody. This may occur when there are concerns about the other parent’s ability to provide the child a safe and stable environment.
When one parent has primary physical custody, the other is typically granted visitation rights. A visitation schedule can be established by the court or agreed upon by the parents. Factors such as the child’s age, the parent’s work schedules, and the distance between the parents’ residences may be considered when determining visitation arrangements.
D. Modification of custody and visitation orders
Custody and visitation orders may be modified if a significant change in circumstances affects the child’s best interests. To request a modification, the party seeking the change must petition the court and provide evidence of the changed circumstances.
Understanding the factors and procedures related to child custody and visitation in Arkansas can help parents navigate the complex process of determining the best arrangements for their children. By focusing on the best interests of the child and working collaboratively with the other parent, it is possible to create a supportive and nurturing environment for the child during and after the divorce process.
Child Support in Arkansas
Child support is a financial obligation paid by one parent to the other to help cover the costs associated with raising a child. In Arkansas, child support is determined using the state’s child support guidelines, which consider both parents’ income and the child’s needs.
A. Calculation of child support
Arkansas uses the Income Shares Model to calculate child support, as outlined in the Arkansas Administrative Order No. 10. The model estimates the total amount of support that would have been available to the child if the parents were living together and then divides this amount proportionately between the parents based on their respective incomes.
Factors that are considered in the Calculation of child support include:
- The gross income of both parents;
- Any pre-existing child support or spousal support obligations;
- The cost of health insurance premiums for the child;
- Work-related childcare expenses; and
- Any extraordinary medical, educational, or other expenses for the child.
B. Modification of child support orders
Child support orders can be modified if there is a substantial change in circumstances, such as a significant increase or decrease in either parent’s income, a change in the child’s needs, or a change in the custody arrangement. To request a modification, the party seeking the change must file a petition with the court and provide evidence of the changed circumstances.
C. Enforcement of child support orders
If a parent fails to pay child support as ordered, there are several enforcement mechanisms available, including but not limited to the following:
- Income withholding: The court can order the non-paying parent’s employer to withhold a portion of their wages to cover the child support obligation.
- Contempt of court: If a parent willfully fails to pay child support, the court may find them in contempt, which can result in fines or even jail time.
- Tax refund interception: The state can intercept the non-paying parent’s federal and state tax refunds to cover the child support arrears.
- Liens on property: Liens can be placed on the non-paying parent’s real or personal property to secure the child support debt.
- License suspension: The non-paying parent’s driver’s or professional license may be suspended if they are significantly behind on child support payments.
Calculating, modifying, and enforcing child support in Arkansas can help parents ensure that their children receive the financial support they need. By complying with child support orders and working with the court and the other parent to address any changes in circumstances, parents can help create a stable and secure environment for their children.
Forms Needed To File Divorce In Arkansas
Forms For Uncontested Divorce Without Children & Property(Free Download)
Here are the forms needed to file:
Complaint for Divorce:
This is the form that starts the divorce process. You can find a template for this form on the Arkansas Judiciary website.
Civil Cover Sheet:
This form is used to identify the parties involved in the case and the type of case being filed. You can also find a template for this form on the Arkansas Judiciary website.
Entry of Appearance and Waiver of Service:
If you and your spouse agree to the divorce, your spouse can sign this form to acknowledge receipt of the Complaint for Divorce and waive formal service of process.
Affidavit of Service by Mail
An Affidavit of Service by Mail form is a legal document used to prove that a document or notice was sent to a person by mail. The person who mails the document, such as a summons or a complaint, fills out the affidavit to attest that the document was sent by mail to the person or entity named in the document.
Decree of Divorce:
The final document formally ends the marriage. You can find a template for this form on the Arkansas Judiciary website.
Although you don’t have a property to divide, Arkansas requires both parties to file a financial affidavit. This form provides information about your income, expenses, and debts. You can find a template for this form on the Arkansas Judiciary website.
Marital Settlement Agreement:
A Marital Settlement Agreement form is a legally binding agreement between two parties in the process of getting divorced. This agreement is used to resolve any issues related to property division, debt, spousal support, child custody, and child support.
Forms For Uncontested Divorce With Children & Property(Free Download)
Complaint for Divorce:
This form initiates the divorce proceedings and includes information about the parties involved, such as names, addresses, and dates of birth.
Civil Cover Sheet:
This form is used to identify the parties involved in the case and the type of case being filed.
This form provides detailed information about the parties’ income, assets, and debts.
Affidavit of Indigency:
This form requests a waiver of filing fees and other costs associated with the divorce process.
Affidavit of Service:
This form documents the service of process on the other spouse.
Decree of Divorce:
This document is the final order that formally ends the marriage.
Marital Settlement Agreement:
This document outlines the terms of the property division, including who gets what assets and debts.
Child Support Worksheet:
This form calculates the amount of child support paid by one spouse to the other.
This document outlines the custody and visitation arrangements for children involved in the divorce.
Child Support Order:
This document is the court order that establishes the amount of child support to be paid.
Order of Equitable Division:
This document is the court order that divides property and assets between the parties.
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