How Long Does a Divorce Take in Arkansas
|Grounds for Divorce||Minimum Timeframe for Divorce|
|No-fault Divorce – Separation||18 months|
|No-fault Divorce – Irreconcilable Differences||18 months|
|General Divorce – Adultery||3 months|
|General Divorce – Felony Conviction||3 months|
|General Divorce – Habitual Drunkenness||1 year|
|General Divorce – Cruelty||18 months|
The length of time it takes to finalize a divorce in Arkansas depends on several variables:
- The complexity of your case
- Whether or not both parties agree on all issues
- The court’s schedule and caseload
In general, uncontested divorces where both parties agree on all issues tend to move more quickly than contested cases that require litigation. However, even an uncontested divorce in Arkansas must follow specific legal procedures before being finalized.
Explanation of Divorce in Arkansas
Arkansas allows both fault and no-fault divorces. In a fault-based divorce, one party alleges that their spouse was responsible for causing the marriage to fail due to actions such as adultery or abuse. In contrast, in a no-fault divorce, neither party needs to prove any wrongdoing on behalf of their partner; they only need to demonstrate that there are irreconcilable differences between them.
- If both parties agree on all issues related to property division and child custody/visitation (if applicable), they can file an uncontested divorce.
- If either party disputes any aspect of the divorce settlement agreement or if there are complex financial issues involved, it may be necessary to go through litigation in court.
Once all paperwork has been filed with your county’s circuit court clerk’s office and served upon your spouse (the defendant), you will need to attend a hearing where you will present evidence supporting your case before receiving approval from a judge. The length of time this process takes varies depending on each situation but typically takes several months or longer.
Grounds for Divorce
Note that while proving fault may impact property division and alimony determinations, it will not affect child custody decisions in Arkansas. However, evidence of abuse or neglect could factor into these decisions if they are relevant.
If you choose to file on no-fault grounds, you only need to demonstrate irreconcilable differences between yourself and your partner. This means that neither party necessarily needs to prove any wrongdoing by the other person.
The most common no-fault grounds for divorce in Arkansas are:
- General indignities: This refers to behavior that makes a person’s life intolerable, such as constant verbal abuse or neglect.
- Living separate and apart without cohabitation for at least eighteen months: This means that you and your spouse have not lived together for over a year and a half.
If you file on no-fault grounds, it may be possible to obtain an uncontested divorce. However, keep in mind that both parties must agree on all issues related to property division, child custody/visitation (if applicable), and alimony before filing. If there are any disputes or disagreements regarding these matters, the case will become contested.
Living Separate and Apart for 18 Months
In Arkansas, a couple must live apart for at least 18 months before they can file for divorce on the grounds of living separate and apart. This means that both parties have been living in separate residences and have not lived together for any period during this time.
It is important to note that the 18-month requirement does not apply if you are filing on fault-based grounds such as adultery or abuse. Additionally, if you resume cohabitation with your spouse after separating but then later decide to end the marriage, the 18-month separation period will start over from scratch.
If you cannot meet the 18-month separation requirement but still want to proceed with a no-fault divorce, it may be possible to file on the basis of “general indignities.” These include behaviors such as verbal abuse or neglect that make it impossible for spouses to continue living together. However, proving general indignities can be more challenging than meeting other no-fault criteria like irreconcilable differences.
If you choose to file for divorce on the basis of incompatibility, you must show that these differences have caused an irremediable breakdown in your marriage. Additionally, both parties must agree to this ground for it to be used.
It’s important to note that choosing a no-fault ground like incompatibility does not necessarily mean that the divorce will proceed more quickly than if fault-based grounds were alleged. The length of time it takes to finalize a divorce depends on many factors and cannot be predicted with certainty.
Note that proving these grounds can be difficult and time-consuming, which is why many people choose to file on no-fault grounds instead. However, if you do have evidence supporting any of these claims and believe it could impact property division or alimony determinations in your case, it may be worth pursuing.
In Arkansas, adultery is considered a fault-based ground for divorce. This means that if you can prove your spouse committed adultery during the marriage, it may impact property division and alimony determinations.
- Adultery is defined as voluntary sexual intercourse between one party and someone who is not their spouse.
- You must have concrete evidence of the affair to use it as grounds for divorce. This could include text messages, emails, photos or videos of the affair.
If you choose to file on grounds of adultery, you will need to present this evidence in court at your hearing. Proving fault does not guarantee that the judge will rule in your favor but it can be taken into account when determining alimony payments or dividing marital assets.
Cruelty or Abuse
If you are filing for divorce on the basis of cruelty or abuse, it’s essential to document any incidents of mistreatment carefully. This could include saving voicemails, text messages, emails and social media posts that demonstrate aggressive behavior. Additionally, taking pictures of injuries inflicted upon you by your partner could be useful as evidence in court hearings.
Alcohol or Drug Addiction
Drug or alcohol addiction can be a factor in Arkansas divorce cases, but it is not typically considered grounds for divorce. However, if the addiction has led to domestic violence, abuse, neglect of children or financial irresponsibility, these issues may be raised as part of a fault-based divorce filing.
- If you are concerned about your spouse’s substance abuse and its impact on your family situation during the divorce process, you can request that they undergo drug testing or evaluation before custody/visitation decisions are made.
- If one parent has a history of drug or alcohol use and/or abuse that could endanger their child’s well-being, this could become an issue in determining custody arrangements after the divorce.
In any case involving substance abuse and custody issues in Arkansas divorces, judges will consider what is in the best interest of the child when making determinations.
Filing for Divorce
You will also need to pay a filing fee when submitting your paperwork. If you cannot afford the fee, you can apply for a waiver based on financial hardship.
If both parties agree on all issues related to property division and child custody/visitation (if applicable), they can file an uncontested divorce together using joint petition forms instead of separate complaints. These forms streamline the process but still require specific legal procedures before being finalized by a judge.
If neither you nor your spouse meet these requirements, it may be necessary to file for divorce in another state where one of you meets residency criteria. However, this can complicate matters significantly and may require additional legal counsel.
In addition to meeting residency requirements, there are other legal considerations when filing for divorce in Arkansas. It is important to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected throughout all stages of your case.
Filing for Divorce
Once these initial steps are complete, there may be additional hearings or negotiations necessary to reach an agreement on property division and child custody/visitation if applicable. An attorney experienced in Arkansas family law can help guide you through this process and protect your interests throughout all proceedings.
Complaint for Divorce
To initiate a divorce in Arkansas, one party (the plaintiff) must file a “Complaint for Divorce” with their county’s circuit court clerk. This document outlines the grounds for the divorce and requests that certain relief be granted by the court.
The Complaint for Divorce typically includes:
- The names and addresses of both parties
- The date of marriage
- A statement as to whether or not there are children involved in the case
- Grounds for divorce, either fault or no-fault based on irreconcilable differences
- A request for specific relief such as alimony, child custody/visitation arrangements, property division etc.
Your attorney can help you draft this document if needed or you can find forms online through your state court system website.
In Arkansas, financial disclosure is a critical part of the divorce process. Both parties are required to provide comprehensive financial disclosures that detail their income, assets, and debts.
- Assets include real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and personal property such as jewelry or collectibles.
- Debts include mortgages or loans on real estate or cars; credit card balances; medical bills; and any other outstanding obligations.
This information will be used to determine how marital property should be divided between both parties. It’s essential that you provide accurate information so that the court can make an informed decision regarding your settlement agreement. If one party fails to disclose all relevant financial information accurately, it may result in legal penalties for them later on.
Serving the Divorce Papers
Once you have filed for divorce, the next step is to serve your spouse with the divorce papers. This involves delivering a copy of all necessary legal documents to your spouse in person or by mail.
- If you and your spouse are on good terms, they may agree to accept service voluntarily, which can help streamline the process.
- If not, you may need to hire a process server or request that the sheriff’s office serve the papers for you. You will need to provide them with an address where your spouse can be found.
Your spouse will then have a specific amount of time (usually around 30 days) to respond after being served with divorce papers. If they fail to respond within this timeframe, it is possible for you to receive a default judgment from the court in your favor. However, keep in mind that it is always preferable for both parties to work together towards reaching an agreement rather than relying on litigation alone.
Serving the Spouse
The method of serving your spouse will depend on the circumstances of your case and what is most practical and efficient. Once served, your spouse has a limited amount of time (typically 30 days) to respond before default judgment may be entered against them. If they contest any aspect of the divorce settlement agreement or fail to respond at all within this timeframe, it may be necessary to go through litigation in court before finalizing the divorce.
Proof of Service
After service has been completed, the person who served the papers must file an Affidavit of Service with the court. This document confirms that your spouse received notice of the divorce proceedings and outlines how they were served. If service was not successful, you may need to attempt again before proceeding further with your case.
In Arkansas, there is a mandatory waiting period that must elapse before your divorce can be finalized. This requirement is intended to give both parties time to consider the decision and potentially reconcile.
Specifically, in Arkansas:
- If you do not have children together, there is a 30-day waiting period from the date of filing before the court will grant your divorce.
- If you do have children together under age 18 or still in high school, then there is a minimum 90-day waiting period. However, if both parties agree on all issues and file an affidavit stating as much along with their other paperwork at the time of filing for divorce, this may be waived by the judge.
Note that these are minimum waiting periods; depending on the complexity of your case and any disputes that arise between you and your partner during proceedings could extend the length of time it takes to finalize a divorce in Arkansas.
30-Day Waiting Period
Arkansas imposes a mandatory 30-day waiting period before any divorce can be finalized. This means that even if you and your spouse agree on all issues, you will need to wait at least 30 days from the date of filing your complaint or petition for divorce before receiving approval from a judge.
This waiting period allows both parties time to change their minds about the divorce and potentially work out their differences or attempt counseling. However, it is important to note that if either party contests the divorce settlement agreement during this time, it could further prolong the process.
Waiver of Waiting Period
In Arkansas, there is a mandatory waiting period of 30 days after filing before a divorce can be finalized. This means that even if both parties agree on all issues and file an uncontested divorce, they must still wait at least 30 days before receiving approval from the court.
However, under certain circumstances, it may be possible to waive this waiting period:
- If both parties have completed a full settlement agreement regarding property division and child custody/visitation (if applicable), they may jointly petition to waive the waiting period.
- If one party can demonstrate extreme hardship or other compelling circumstances that make waiving the waiting period necessary, they can request that the judge grant an exception.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
Uncontested divorces tend to be faster and less expensive than their contested counterparts since there is no need for extensive litigation or discovery. Some couples may choose mediation as a way to resolve disagreements during an uncontested divorce process without involving lawyers or the court system. In contrast, contested divorces can take several months or even years to resolve if they require extensive litigation in front of a judge.
If you are considering filing for divorce in Arkansas but are not sure whether it will be contested or uncontested, it’s best to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation. An attorney can help you understand what options might be available to you and how long each step of the process may take so that you can make informed decisions about your case.
To file for an uncontested divorce in Arkansas:
- You must meet residency requirements by having lived within the state for at least six months prior to filing.
- You must draft a settlement agreement that addresses all relevant issues such as property division, child custody/visitation, alimony/spousal support if applicable, etc.
- If you have children under the age of eighteen (18) years old who are still living at home with you or your spouse during this time period before finalizing this matter then it is important that both parties work together closely on creating a parenting plan. This document should outline how each party will share responsibilities related to raising their children moving forward while also taking into account schedules and other necessary considerations.
- You must submit these documents along with other required forms and fees through your local circuit court clerk’s office and wait for them to be approved by a judge before obtaining official paperwork indicating that your divorce has been granted.
One of the most important aspects of a divorce in Arkansas is reaching a settlement agreement with your spouse. This document outlines how you will divide property, handle debts and assets, and any child custody or visitation agreements if applicable.
- If both parties can agree on all issues related to their divorce, they can file an uncontested divorce and submit their settlement agreement for court approval.
- If either party disputes any aspect of the settlement agreement, it may be necessary to go through litigation in court before receiving final approval from a judge.
It’s essential that all aspects of your divorce are outlined clearly and accurately in your settlement agreement because this legal document will dictate how you navigate life post-divorce. Additionally, an experienced attorney can help ensure that nothing has been overlooked or left open-ended during negotiations.
Once you and your spouse have agreed on all issues or the court has issued a ruling, the final step in an Arkansas divorce is receiving approval from a judge. To do this, both parties must attend a hearing where they will present their case before the judge.
The length of time it takes to receive court approval for your divorce can vary widely depending on several factors, including:
- The complexity of your case
- The court’s schedule and caseload
- Whether or not there are any disputes that need to be resolved through litigation
In most cases, once all paperwork has been filed with the circuit court clerk’s office and served upon your spouse (the defendant), you can expect to wait several months or longer before attending a hearing with a judge. During this period, it is important to work closely with an experienced attorney who can help guide you through each step of the process.
If you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement on all issues related to property division, child custody/visitation, or other matters, then you will need to go through a contested divorce. This means that the court will make decisions on these issues for you based on evidence presented by both parties.
- In a contested divorce in Arkansas, both parties may be required to attend mediation before going to trial.
- If mediation is unsuccessful or not required in your case, each party’s attorney will present evidence supporting their client’s position during trial.
After hearing arguments from both sides and considering relevant factors such as income and parenting ability (if applicable), the judge will issue a final decree of divorce outlining how assets are divided and any orders regarding child custody/visitation or support payments.
If you and your spouse are unable to reach a settlement agreement on the terms of your divorce, then litigation may be necessary. In this case, each party will need to hire an attorney to represent them in court.
- The first step in litigation is typically the discovery process. This involves exchanging information and documents related to finances, property division, and other relevant issues.
- Next, both parties will present evidence before a judge who will make decisions regarding property division and child custody/visitation if applicable.
Litigation can be costly and time-consuming. It’s important to carefully consider whether it’s necessary for your particular situation or whether alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation could help resolve differences more efficiently.
If you and your spouse cannot agree on the terms of your divorce, a trial may be necessary. During the trial, both parties will present their evidence to the judge who will then make decisions regarding property division, alimony, child custody/visitation, and other issues.
- The length of the trial can vary depending on how complex your case is and how much evidence needs to be presented.
- It’s important to note that going through a trial can significantly increase the length of time it takes to finalize your divorce in Arkansas.
After all evidence has been presented at trial, the judge will issue a final order outlining all aspects of your divorce settlement agreement. This order is legally binding for both parties involved in the divorce process.
Division of Property
In Arkansas, separate property (property owned before the marriage) is typically not subject to division in divorce proceedings unless it has been commingled with marital assets. Additionally, gifts or inheritances given directly to one spouse are considered separate property and are not subject to division.
The court takes into consideration several factors when determining what constitutes a fair division of property:
- The length of your marriage
- The age and health status of each spouse
- The earning capacity of each spouse after the divorce is finalized
If you are unable to come to an agreement with your partner regarding asset division, it may be necessary to go through litigation where a judge will make these determinations for you.
Marital Property vs. Separate Property
During a divorce, the division of property is often one of the most contentious issues. Arkansas is an equitable distribution state, meaning that marital assets and debts are divided fairly but not necessarily equally between spouses.
It’s important to distinguish between separate property (belonging to only one spouse) and marital property (acquired during the marriage). In general:
- Separate property includes gifts or inheritances received by one spouse, as well as any assets owned before the marriage
- Marital property typically includes income earned during the marriage, real estate acquired while married, and jointly-owned accounts or investments
If you have concerns about how your individual assets will be treated in a divorce settlement agreement, it’s recommended that you speak with an experienced family law attorney who can advise you on your specific situation.
Definition of Marital Property
If you live in a community property state like California or Texas, all marital assets are split equally between spouses. However, Arkansas follows an “equitable distribution” approach to dividing property.
This means that a judge will look at several factors when deciding how to divide marital property fairly. These factors may include each party’s financial resources and earning potential after the divorce, who contributed more to acquiring certain assets (such as through income earned), and whether one party has custody of any children from the marriage.
Definition of Separate Property
In Arkansas, property is generally divided equitably in a divorce. This means that each spouse will receive a fair share of the marital assets based on factors such as income and contribution to the marriage.
It’s important to note that not all property is subject to division in a divorce. Separate property refers to assets acquired by one spouse before or after the marriage and not commingled with marital funds during the course of the marriage. Examples of separate property include:
- Property owned prior to getting married
- Inheritance received by one spouse alone
- Gifts given specifically to one spouse
If you believe you have separate property that should be excluded from division, it’s essential to provide documentation and evidence proving this at your hearing.
Child Custody and Support
If both parents can come to an agreement on these matters outside of court, they can submit a parenting plan for approval by a judge. However, if either party disputes any aspect related to child custody or support payments (including modifications), it may be necessary for you to go through litigation in court.
- In Arkansas, both parents are required by law to financially support their children until they reach age 18 or graduate from high school (whichever comes later).
- The amount of child support owed is determined based on each parent’s income level and other factors such as health insurance costs and childcare expenses.
When minor children are involved in a divorce, child custody is typically one of the most contentious issues. In Arkansas, there are two types of custody: legal and physical. Legal custody refers to the right to make important decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, such as education and medical care. Physical custody refers to where the child will live.
- If both parties can agree on a joint custody arrangement that works for their family, this option is generally favored by courts in Arkansas.
- If an agreement cannot be reached outside of court, a judge will decide on physical and legal custody based on what they believe is in the best interests of the child or children involved.
In addition to physical and legal custody decisions, a parenting plan must also be established outlining visitation schedules and other details surrounding how each parent will interact with their children after the divorce has been finalized. This plan must be approved by a judge before it becomes legally binding.
Best Interest of the Child
In addition to these factors, courts may also consider any preferences expressed by older children regarding their living arrangements.
If both parents are deemed fit to provide adequate care for their children, joint custody is usually preferred in Arkansas. However, if one parent has demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to provide proper care, sole custody may be awarded instead.
Joint Custody vs. Sole Custody
The court’s top priority when determining a custody arrangement is what is in the best interest of the child involved. Factors that may be considered include each parent’s ability to provide a stable home environment, their willingness to encourage a relationship between the child and other parent, any history of abuse or neglect by either party, and the preferences of older children if they are deemed mature enough to express them. Keep in mind that even if you agree on joint or sole custody with your partner outside of court, it still needs to be approved by a judge before becoming legally binding.
If you and your spouse can agree on an appropriate child support arrangement, this can be included in your settlement agreement. However, if you cannot agree or if you believe that the proposed amount is not fair based on your circumstances, a judge may need to intervene and make a determination.
It’s important to note that in Arkansas, both parents are responsible for supporting their children financially until they reach age 18 or graduate high school (whichever occurs later). Parents may also be required to contribute to college expenses under certain circumstances.
Calculation of Child Support
To calculate the monthly payment amount, you can use Arkansas’s Child Support Guidelines Worksheet. This worksheet takes into account all relevant financial information and provides an estimate of how much money should be paid by one party to the other.
If circumstances change over time – such as if either parent has a significant increase or decrease in income – it may be necessary to modify the child support order. You will need to file a motion with the court outlining why modification is needed before any changes can take effect.
Modifications of Child Support
It’s important to note that modifications can work both ways; while one party may seek an increase in child support payments due to changed circumstances, the other party may seek to lower their payments for similar reasons. It is recommended that you consult with an attorney who specializes in family law if you are considering seeking or opposing a modification of your current child support arrangement.
In conclusion, the length of time it takes to finalize a divorce in Arkansas depends on several factors. An uncontested divorce where both parties agree on all issues tends to move more quickly than contested cases that require litigation. It is important to note that Arkansas allows both fault and no-fault divorces, with irreconcilable differences being sufficient grounds for a no-fault divorce.
If you are considering getting a divorce in Arkansas, it is essential to understand the legal procedures and requirements involved. Seeking guidance from an experienced family law attorney can help ensure that your rights and interests are protected throughout the process.
Remember that each situation is unique, so while this guide provides general information about how long a divorce may take in Arkansas, your specific case may vary based on the circumstances involved. However, understanding the basics of how divorces work in Arkansas can help you feel more prepared as you begin navigating this challenging process.
Recap of the Divorce Process in Arkansas
The timeline for each step varies depending on the complexity of your case and how quickly you and your spouse can come to agreements. It is recommended that both parties hire attorneys to help guide them through this process if they have any questions about their legal rights or obligations. Ultimately, the length of time it takes to finalize a divorce in Arkansas depends on many factors but typically ranges from several months up to one year or longer for more complex cases that require extensive litigation.
FAQ on ‘How Long Does a Divorce Take in Arkansas’
Q: Can I speed up the divorce process?
A: While there is no guaranteed way to speed up the divorce process in Arkansas, working with an experienced attorney and being cooperative during negotiations can help expedite the process.
Q: What factors can affect how long a divorce takes in Arkansas?
A: The complexity of assets and property division, child custody arrangements, and any disputes or disagreements between parties can all impact how long a divorce takes to finalize in Arkansas.
Q: Do both parties need to agree on terms for a quick divorce?
A: Ideally, both parties should come to an agreement on terms such as child custody and property division. However, if one party is uncooperative or there are disputes, this can significantly prolong the divorce process.
Q: Is it possible to get a quick divorce in Arkansas without hiring an attorney?
A: It is possible for couples who have few assets and no children to file for a simple, uncontested divorce without an attorney. However, it is still recommended to seek legal advice before proceeding.