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Arkansas Family Law: An Overview

It’s easy to get swept up in the happy chaos of planning a marriage and starting a new family. You and your spouse are probably busy making wedding arrangements, planning your honeymoon and buying a new home. However, at some point, you’re both going to have to address a few legal matters, like getting a marriage license, making a prenuptial agreement, applying for adoption, etc.

If you have a family law case in Little Rock, Fayetteville, Fort Smith or elsewhere in Arkansas, LawInfo is your source for information and legal help. LawInfo’s Arkansas Family Law section includes legal overviews, summaries of state laws and other resources to help you make the right decisions for you and your family.

If you need help navigating the complex laws governing your case, an Arkansas family law attorney can help and treat your case with the sensitivity it deserves.

Arkansas Marriage Requirements

Arkansas’ family laws protect the health and best interests of both parties to a marriage and those of the community by placing restrictions and requirements on marriage. These requirements also seek to ensure that both parties are entering the marriage at their own consent. (See Arkansas Code § 9-11-101 et. al.) These statutory requirements include:

  • Males age 17 and older and females age 16 and older may marry.
  • Any party under age 18 must provide written consent from their parents or guardians prior to attaining a marriage license.
  • Siblings, parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, aunts/uncles and nephews/nieces, and first cousins are not permitted to marry.
  • Same-sex marriages are currently prohibited.

Arkansas Marriage Licenses

An Arkansas marriage license is required to legally validate your marriage. If you marry without a license, your marriage will be deemed void within the state, barring you from claiming marriage-specific benefits.

To qualify for a license, you first must meet Arkansas’ statutory marriage requirements. Both parties must then appear in person before an Arkansas county clerk with photo identifications (and written notices of parental consent, if required by law) to apply for and receive a license.

Once you receive a license, you must perform the marriage ceremony within 60 days before the license expires. There is no required waiting period and the license can be used anywhere within the state. You don’t have to submit to medical or blood tests and you don’t need to prove your residency in the state to qualify for a license.

Arkansas Child Support Laws

A divorced parent without primary custody of the children from their former marriage may be ordered by an Arkansas court to pay child support. (Arkansas Code Title 9, Chapter 14.) The court will determine how much child support you will pay using a chart and exceptions in Arkansas Administrative Order 10.

Child support must be paid until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school. If the child turns 18 while in high school, support must be paid until they graduate or turn 19, whichever comes first. Child support is carefully calculated based on the noncustodial parent’s available net income and the child’s needs.

Arkansas Child Visitation Laws

Divorce can be difficult for children and parents since they won’t be able to see or visit each other as often as before. In a visitation rights hearing, a court doesn’t only consider the custodial parent’s wishes for the noncustodial parent’s visitation rights. The child’s wishes are also taken into consideration.

If both parents cannot agree to a visitation schedule, the court may make the decision for them. Siblings and grandparents must also negotiate visitation rights with the custodial parent or the court.

The custodial parent is not allowed to deny the other their visitation rights if the noncustodial parent is late on or refusing to make support payments. Likewise, the noncustodial parent cannot withhold support if the custodial parent denies them their visitation rights.

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