When a person decides one's marriage is over, ending the marriage quickly is usually at the top of the wish list. Residents of Arkansas might be surprised to know that getting a divorce isn't anywhere near quick unless certain conditions are met. Those conditions are acts that one spouse must do in order for there to be legal grounds for the divorce. Without a legal ground for the divorce, the process takes much longer.
The residency requirement for a divorce in Arkansas is only 60 days. Only one spouse has to meet that requirement. Those 60 days must be the 60 days preceding the divorce petition filing date. The divorce must be filed in the county of residence of the petitioning spouse.
A person can only file for divorce if the marriage is over because of one of the legal grounds recognized by the state or if the couple has lived apart for at least 18 months. The legal grounds for divorce include conviction of a felony, habitual alcohol abuse, adultery, or an agreement between both spouses that the marriage is over. If the marriage is a covenant marriage, the court must find that there are grounds for the divorce.
Once the divorce petition is filed, there is a 30 day waiting period before it can be finalized. Divorces that require a trial can take much longer than 30 days, depending on the number of cases being heard in the county of filing.
Arkansas isn't a “down the middle” state when it comes to dividing marital property; however, the courts might trend toward an even distribution unless there are extenuating circumstances. Instead of a down the middle split, the basis of property division is the equitable distribution concept. This means that barring an agreement between the spouses or a premarital agreement, the assets of the couple will be divided according to what is fair and equitable. The property that is acquired before the marriage or after the separation is considered separate property that belongs to the acquiring spouse.
Spousal support is allowed in Arkansas if it is ordered by the court. These payments are sometimes referred to as alimony. The court takes the financial status of the spouses into account to determine if alimony should be awarded. If alimony is awarded, it is effective until a spouse dies, the receiving spouse remarries, or the receiving spouse has another child.
Couples that have children have to deal with child custody and child support. Child custody in the state is based on the best interest of the child. The gender of the parent who gets custody of the child isn't a consideration for the court. The wishes of the child might be considered in some cases.
Child support payments are determined by the court based on the state's guidelines. The child support continues until the child finishes high school or turns 18. It is paid through the state's clearinghouse system or paycheck deductions unless the court orders another method.
The laws governing divorce matters in Arkansas can be complex. Seeking help from a divorce attorney can help to ensure your rights are protected through the proceedings. This can also help you to ensure you get the best settlement possible so you can start your new life off on the right foot.
While divorce may be common, when you go through it yourself, you still deserve dedicated, personal focus on your rights and unique situation. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you figure out the best way forward, explain the law, and represent you in court if it is ever necessary. Take the first step now and contact a local divorce attorney to discuss your divorce.