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Arkansas Divorce Laws

The state of Arkansas has unique divorce laws for people who wish to terminate their marriage.

We are providing the following Arkansas divorce laws to you as an easy reference guide. Familiarize yourself with the following information before you file for divorce in Arkansas.

Residency Requirements: In order to file for divorce in Arkansas, you or your spouse must meet the strict residency requirements. These requirements permit the court to have jurisdiction of your case, resulting in allowing you to use their judicial system. These requirements are only a concern for spouses who have recently relocated or plan to relocate in the near future. They are as follows:

A spouse must be a resident of the state of Arkansas for at least 60 days prior to filing for the divorce and the divorce will not be finalized until a 3 months waiting period has passed after the initial filing.

The proceedings shall be in the county where the complainant resides unless the complainant is a nonresident of the State of Arkansas and the defendant is a resident of the state, in which case the proceedings shall be in the county where the defendant resides, and, in any event, the process may be directed to any county in the state. (Arkansas Code - Title 9 - Chapters: 12-301 and 12-303)

No-Fault Grounds: Most uncontested divorce cases are filed according to a "no-fault" ground. We are using the term "no-fault" in a generic fashion by labeling all grounds that do not actually declare a "fault" as "no-fault". In the state of Arkansas the "no-fault" grounds are as follows:

The circuit court shall have power to dissolve and set aside a marriage contract, not only from bed and board, but from the bonds of matrimony, for the following causes:

No-Fault:
(1) When husband and wife have lived separate and apart from each other for eighteen (18) continuous months without cohabitation, the court shall grant an absolute decree of divorce at the suit of either party, whether the separation was the voluntary act of one (1) party or by the mutual consent of both parties or due to the fault of either party or both parties. (Arkansas Code - Title 9 - Chapters: 12-301)

Filing Party Name: The Plaintiff. This is the spouse who is recognized as the initiator of the divorce and is the one who actually files the Complaint for Divorce with the county court.

Non-Filing Party Name: The Defendant. This spouse plays a lesser role in an uncontested divorce versus a contested divorce. He or she will be required to sign and/or respond in a timely fashion to the documents filed by his or her spouse.

Family Law or Domestic Relations Court: In the Chancery Court of __________ Arkansas. All divorce cases in the state of Arkansas are facilitated through this court for that particular county.

Clerk's Name: All correspondence with a Arkansas clerk of the court should formally address him or her as follows: County Clerk's Office of the Superior Court.

Property and Debt Division: Arkansas is considered an "equitable distribution" state. If you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on how the marital property will be divided, the court shall use a three step process. First, it will determine what property is marital. Second, it will put a value on the marital property. Third, it will divide the marital property in an equitable fashion, which is not necessarily equal, but rather what is considered to be fair.

If the parties can not come to agreement on the division of the marital property, the court distributed one-half (1/2) to each party unless the court finds such a division to be inequitable. In that event the court shall make some other division that the court deems equitable taking into consideration: (i) The length of the marriage; (ii) Age, health, and station in life of the parties; (iii) Occupation of the parties; (iv) Amount and sources of income; (v) Vocational skills; (vi) Employability; (vii) Estate, liabilities, and needs of each party and opportunity of each for further acquisition of capital assets and income; (viii) Contribution of each party in acquisition, preservation, or appreciation of marital property, including services as a homemaker; and (ix) The federal income tax consequences of the court's division of property. (Arkansas Code - Title 9 - Chapters: 12-315)

Changing Name: In all cases when the court finds that either party is entitled to a divorce, the court may restore the wife to the name which she bore previous to the marriage dissolved. (Arkansas Code - Title 9 - Chapters: 12-318)

Spousal Support, Maintenance, or Alimony: Determining the amount of spousal support, if any, is not as objective as determining child support. Spousal support, whether permanent or temporary, is typically decided on a case-by-case basis, because it is very likely that unique circumstances and factors regarding the marriage and the property award will play a significant role in allowing the court to arrive at the appropriate amount.

When a decree is entered, the court shall make orders concerning the alimony of the wife or the husband and the care of the children, if there are any, as are reasonable from the circumstances of the parties and the nature of the case. Unless otherwise ordered by the court or agreed to by the parties, the liability for alimony shall automatically cease upon the earlier of: (A) The date of the remarriage of the person who was awarded the alimony; or (B) The establishment of a relationship that produces a child or children and results in a court order directing another person to pay support to the recipient of alimony, which circumstances shall be considered the equivalent of remarriage; or (C) The establishment of a relationship that produces a child or children and results in a court order directing the recipient of alimony to provide support of another person who is not a descendant by birth or adoption of the payer of the alimony, which circumstances shall be considered the equivalent of remarriage. (Arkansas Code - Title 9 - Chapters: 12-312)

(2) In determining a reasonable amount of support, initially or upon review to be paid by the noncustodial parent, the court shall refer to the most recent revision of the family support chart. It shall be a rebuttable presumption for the award of child support that the amount contained in the family support chart is the correct amount of child support to be awarded. Only upon a written finding or specific finding on the record that the application of the support chart would be unjust or inappropriate, as determined under established criteria set forth in the family support chart, shall the presumption be rebutted.

Custody and Visitation: Shared or joint child custody has become more and more popular with the Arkansas courts. If you and your spouse request to have joint or shared "legal" custody, it will almost always be granted. As for joint or shared "physical" custody, the court will examine this a bit more closely to determine if it is a realistic choice that would result in an arrangement that is best for the children.

In an action for divorce, the award of custody of a child of the marriage shall be made without regard to the sex of a parent but solely in accordance with the welfare and best interest of the child.

In determining the best interest of the child, the court may consider the preferences of the child if the child is of a sufficient age and capacity to reason, regardless of chronological age; The past and future roles of the parents; and past domestic violence.

A grandparent shall be entitled to notice and shall be granted an opportunity to be heard in any child custody proceeding involving a grandchild who is twelve (12) months of age or younger when: (a) A grandchild resides with this grandparent for at least six (6) continuous months prior to the grandchild's first birthday; (b) The grandparent was the primary caregiver for and financial supporter of the grandchild during the time the grandchild resided with the grandparent; and (c) The continuous custody occurred within one (1) year of the date the child custody proceeding was initiated. (Arkansas Code - Title 9 - Chapters: 13-101)

Determining Child Support: The basis for determining a monthly support amount is best achieved by referring to the Arkansas child support worksheet. The worksheet utilizes the child support guidelines that are defined by state law. The court will use this same worksheet as a building block for determining the support obligation, that is if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement on this issue.

The circuit courts in the several counties in this state shall have exclusive jurisdiction in all civil cases and matters relating to the support of a minor child or support owed to a person eighteen (18) or older which accrued during that person's minority.

The following may file a petition to require the noncustodial parent or parents of a minor child to provide support for the minor child: (1) Any parent having physical custody of a minor child; (2) Any other person or agency to whom physical custody of a minor child has been given or relinquished; (3) A minor child by and through his guardian or next friend; or (4) The Office of Child Support Enforcement of the Revenue Division of the Department of Finance and Administration when the parent or person to whom physical custody has been relinquished or awarded is receiving assistance in the form of Aid to Families with Dependent Children, Medicaid, Title IV-E of the Social Security Act - Foster Care, or has contracted with the department for the collection of support. (Arkansas Code - Title 9 - Chapters: 12-312, 14-105)

Copyright Notice: These Arkansas divorce laws above are copyrighted by 3 Step Solutions, LLC. This abbreviated and revised version of the state laws has been compiled from applicable state laws and unauthorized reproduction in any fashion is prohibited. Violation of this copyright notice may result in immediate legal action.

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