Divorce Guide

Divorce Guide


Arkansas Divorce Laws



Residency Requirements for Divorce in Arkansas
A spouse must reside in the state for 60 days to file for divorce and for 3 months before a divorce will be finalized. The divorce should be filed in the county of the plaintiff. However, if the plaintiff is a non-resident of Arkansas, the divorce may be filed in the county where the defendant resides. The venue requirements may be waived in Arkansas.
[Arkansas Code of 1987 Annotated; Title 9, Chapters 12-301 and 12-303].

Legal Grounds for Divorce in Arkansas

  1. No Fault Divorce: Voluntarily living separately without cohabitation for 18 months.
    [Arkansas Code of 1987 Annotated; Title 9, Chapter 12-301].
  2. General Divorce:
    1. Impotence
    2. Adultery
    3. Confinement for incurable insanity or separation caused by mental illness for a period of 3 years
    4. Conviction of a felony
    5. Cruel and inhuman treatment which endangers the life of the spouse
    6. Personal indignities
    7. Habitual intemperance (drunkenness) for 1 year
    8. Commission and/or conviction of an infamous crime
    9. Nonsupport whereby the spouse is able to provide support but willfully fails to provide suitable maintenance for the complaining spouse.
    [Arkansas Code of 1987 Annotated; Title 9, Chapter 12-301].

Legal Separation in Arkansas
Legal separation may be granted for the following reasons:

  1. Impotence
  2. Adultery
  3. Confinement for incurable insanity or separation caused by mental illness for a period of 3 years
  4. Conviction of a felony
  5. Willful desertion for 1 year
  6. Cruel and inhuman treatment which endangers the life of the spouse
  7. Personal indignities
  8. Habitual intemperance (drunkenness) for 1 year
  9. Commission and/or conviction of an infamous crime
  10. Voluntary separation for 18 months
  11. Nonsupport whereby the spouse is able to provide support but willfully fails to provide suitable maintenance for the complaining spouse.
[Arkansas Code of 1987 Annotated; Title 9, Chapter 12-301].

Simplified/Special Divorce Procedures in Arkansas
In an uncontested divorce, proof of a spouse's residency, proof of separation, and proof of no cohabitation may be provided by a signed affidavit from a third party. In addition, in an uncontested divorce, proof of the grounds for divorce need not be corroborated by a third party.
[Arkansas Code of 1987 Annotated; Title 9, Chapters 12-306, 12-313, and 12-316].

Divorce Mediation or Counseling Requirements
There is no legal provision in Arkansas for mediation.

Divorce Property Distribution
Arkansas is an "equitable distribution" state. All of the marital property acquired during the marriage is divided equally between the spouses. However, if the court finds the division to be unfair, it may redistribute the property, after consideration of the following factors:

  1. The contribution of each spouse to the preservation, appreciation, or acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of each spouse as homemaker
  2. The length of the marriage
  3. The age, health, and station in life of the spouses
  4. The occupation of the spouses
  5. The amount and sources of income of the spouses
  6. The vocational skills of the spouses
  7. The employability of the spouses
  8. The estate, liabilities, and needs of each spouse and the opportunity of each for further acquisition of capital assets and income
  9. The federal income tax consequences of the court's division of the property
The separate property of each spouse, consisting of property acquired prior to the marriage, and any gifts or inheritances, is retained by the spouse owning it, unless the court finds it necessary to divide the separate property in order to achieve an equitable distribution.
[Arkansas Code of 1987 Annotated; Title 9, Chapter 12-315].

Alimony and Spousal Support
Alimony may be granted to either spouse in fixed installments for a specific period of time and subject to automatic termination upon the death of either spouse, remarriage of the receiving spouse, or the establishment by the receiving spouse of a relationship that produces a child or children. Where the grounds for divorce are voluntary separation for 3 years, fault may be considered in dividing the property. The factors for consideration specified in the statute are that the amount be reasonable based on the circumstances of the parties and the nature of the case. Alimony payments may be ordered to be paid through the registry of the court.
[Arkansas Code of 1987 Annotated; Title 9, Chapter 12-312].

Spouse's Name After Divorce
The court may restore the wife's pre-marriage name.
[Arkansas Code of 1987 Annotated; Title 9, Chapter 12-318].

Child Custody After Divorce
Child custody is awarded based on the welfare and best interests of the child, after a consideration of the following factors:

  1. The circumstances of the parents and child
  2. The nature of the case
  3. Which parent is most likely to allow frequent and continuing contact with the other parent
  4. Any acts of domestic violence
Joint or shared custody may been awarded if it is found to be in the best interests of the child. The sex of the parent is not a factor for decisions relating to child custody. A grandparent of a child may petition the court to request continuing contact with the child.
[Arkansas Code of 1987 Annotated; Title 9, Chapter 13-101 and Arkansas Case Law].

Child Support After Divorce
In awarding a reasonable amount of child support, the court is to consider the following factors:

  1. The circumstances of the parents and child
  2. The nature of the case
Child support payments may be ordered to be paid through the registry of the court and the court may require that a bond securing payment be required. There is an official Arkansas Family Support guidelines chart which is presumed to be correct, unless the court finds that the amount would be inappropriate or unjust, considering the following factors:
  1. Any necessary medical, dental, or psychological care or insurance
  2. The creation or maintenance of trust fund for the child
  3. Daycare expenses
  4. Extraordinary time spent with the non-custodial parent
  5. Any additional support provided by the parent obligated to pay support
This chart should be available from the Clerk of any Chancery Court. In addition, an official Affidavit of Financial Means must be filed with divorce cases which involve issues relating to child support.
[Arkansas Code of 1987 Annotated; Title 9, Chapters 12-312 and 14-105 and Addendum to 1997 Arkansas Code Supplement].


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