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Divorce in Arkansas

Divorce in Arkansas



Over the past ten years, Arkansas’ divorce laws have undergone significant changes, reflecting the state’s dedication to modernizing its legal framework while addressing the evolving needs and complexities of families experiencing divorce. From child custody to property division, these changes underscore Arkansas’ commitment to promoting fairness, clarity, and the well-being of all parties involved. This article provides an overview of the key updates in Arkansas’ divorce laws and regulations from 2013 to 2023, presented in bullet points:

2013 – Embracing No-Fault Divorce:

   – Adoption of “no-fault” divorce, allowing couples to end their marriage without assigning blame or fault.

2014 – Enhanced Child Custody Guidelines:

   – Introduction of comprehensive child custody guidelines prioritizing the best interests of the child.

   – Ensuring a balanced involvement of both parents in the child’s upbringing.

2015 – Property Division Criteria Enhancement:

   – Strengthened rules for the equitable division of marital property during divorce proceedings.

   – Consideration of factors like financial contribution, length of marriage, and individual needs.

2016 – Alimony Guidelines Implementation:

   – Introduction of guidelines for spousal support (alimony) awards to enhance transparency and consistency.

   – Factors such as duration of marriage, financial disparity, and earning capacity are considered.

2017 – Digital Documentation Acceptance:

   – Implementation of provisions allowing the use of digital documentation and electronic signatures in divorce proceedings.

2018 – Parenting Plan Focus:

   – Emphasis on creating detailed parenting plans outlining custody, visitation, and child support arrangements.

   – Ensuring stability and clear expectations for the child’s upbringing.

2019 – Streamlined Divorce Process:

   – Introduction of measures to expedite the divorce process, reducing delays and administrative complexities.

2020 – Child Support Guidelines Review:

   – Regular review and adjustment of child support guidelines to align with economic realities and ensure adequate support.

2021 – Strengthening Domestic Violence Protections:

   – Reinforcement of provisions protecting victims of domestic violence during divorce proceedings.

   – Ensuring the safety and well-being of vulnerable parties.

2022 – Online Filing and Resources:

    – Implementation of online divorce filing options for accessibility and convenience.

    – Enhancement of online resources to assist divorcing couples throughout the process.

2022 – Mediation Promotion:

    – Encouragement of divorce mediation to facilitate amicable resolutions, reducing adversarial litigation.

2023 – Enhanced Spousal Support Guidelines:

    – Consideration of updates to spousal support guidelines to ensure fair and appropriate awards.

2023 – Military Divorce Considerations:

    – Introduction of measures addressing the unique challenges of military divorces, such as deployment and benefits.

2023 – High-Asset Divorce and Financial Complexities:

    – Exploration of specialized guidelines for high-asset divorces, addressing intricate financial matters.

Arkansas’ divorce laws have transformed over the past decade, reflecting the state’s commitment to modernize its legal framework while promoting fairness and the well-being of all parties involved. These changes highlight Arkansas’ proactive approach to addressing the multifaceted aspects of divorce in contemporary society. As the state continues to adapt its laws, it is essential for stakeholders, policymakers, and the public to engage in informed discussions that prioritize the needs of families while upholding the principles of justice and equity.

Divorce in Arkansas : Residency and Filing Needs

First know the requirements for divorce in Alaska, and the rest hopefully will go smoothly. Typically the spouse filing for divorce will be known as the ‘Plaintiff’ while the other will be dubbed the ‘Defendant’ in the matter.

These are the requirements:

Requirement 1: Either spouse must be a resident of Arkansas for at least 60 days prior to filing for divorce and must also reside within the state for 3 months before divorce is finalized.

Requirement 2: Divorce proceeding will reside either in the Plaintiff’s county unless Plaintiff is a non-resident and Defendant is a resident. If Defendant is a resident, proceedings will occur in Defendant’s county.

Requirement 3: In any event, the court may deem it necessary to conduct divorce proceedings in any county of the state.

Reasons for Divorce in Arkansas

There are two categories of divorce regardless of the reasons behind the petition:

• No-Fault Divorce

• Fault Divorce

“No-Fault” generally means one thing –

1) Both Parties Have Lived Separately for at Least 18 Consecutive Months, Either by One Party Voluntarily Choosing to Separate or Both Parties Mutually Agreeing to Separate

“Fault” divorce in Arkansas, however, is an entirely different situation.

Grounds for that divorce can include one or more of these as determined by a court of law:

• Cruelty Inflicted by One Party onto the Other

• Adultery

• Felony Conviction

• Alcohol Abuse for at Least 1 Year

• Drug Abuse for at Least 1 Year

• Impotence on Either Party

Both “No-Fault” and “Fault” divorce have separate stipulations that can affect custody, child support, and spousal support.

Divorce in Arkansas : The Definition of “Legal Separation” Versus “Divorce”

We know what divorce means – but what’s legal separation?

Basically when both parties ‘legally separate,’ they’re doing so without nullifying the marriage. In essence, both parties are still ‘married,’ just not living together. Common reasons for doing this is to retain certain marriage benefits – such as insurance, or even taxes.

More often than not, a legal separation can progress to a divorce petition, in which case all benefits and stipulations of the marriage become null and void.

The Primary Documents For a Divorce in Arkansas

A divorce proceeding can include ten to twenty documents, but here are a few of the more important documents:

• Domestic Relations Case Cover Sheet

• Affidavit of Corroborating Witness

• Marital Settlement Agreement

• Affidavit of Financial Means

• Complaint for Divorce

• And Decree of Divorce

Divorce in Arkansas : Property Distribution

For divorce in Arkansas, “equitable distribution” is the method of property division between parties during a divorce case. When using the term ‘equitable,’ property is divided equally between the Plaintiff and Defendant, but not necessarily monetary. The key word when it comes to “equitable distribution” is fairness. This means that value has no bearing on the situation, and one parent may hold property of more monetary value than the other. But it’s still a fair distribution of assets.

The court may also give a wife her former or maiden name back as a result of the petition of the divorce.

Divorce in Arkansas : On the Subject of Spousal Support

Spousal support – or “alimony” – is basically contingent on any relevant facts that will determine if either spouse indeed requires financial support. Typically it goes by a case-by-case basis, and is generally not a requirement of divorce.

Divorce in Arkansas : Dealing With Child Custody

There are five types of custody to consider:

• Joint Physical Custody

• Sole Physical Custody

• Joint Legal Custody

• Sole Legal Custody

“Joint Physical Custody” means the sharing of the child(ren) in terms of physical placement. The child(ren) will have two addresses: the mother’s residence, and the father’s residence. In addition, both parents will be responsible for the physical well-being of the child(ren): transportation to and from school and to and from the doctor’s office, clothing, food, etc. etc..

“Sole Physical Custody” is the simple removal of those particular rights from one parent. The other then retains those “sole” physical rights of custody of the child(ren). The parent without physical custody, however, will then have “Visitation Rights.”

“Joint Legal Custody” Unlike ‘physical custody,’ legal custody revolves around more of the long-term aspects of parenting: deciding how the child(ren) will grow up, what schools they will go to, what kind of lifestyle they will live, etc. etc.. In addition, if the father so chooses, the child(ren) will retain the father’s last name, and the father or mother will continue to be financially responsible for the child(ren) until the age of 18.

“Sole Legal Custody” Obviously this means the same except one parent will have no rights as already listed above. This may mean that the child(ren) can have their last name changed permanently, and may even mean that Visitation Rights may never be enforced.

Divorce in Arkansas : How to Determine Child Support If Necessary

The Percentage of Income Formula is the way the state of Arkansas handles child support, taking the total amount of income from the non-custodial parent and multiplying the given acceptable percentage to determine the amount of child support that must be paid monthly.

Of course, both parents can actually come to an agreement on the amount of child support. But in the event that they cannot agree, the court will decide based on the Formula.