Arkansas Divorce Basics

This article explains the laws and rules about getting a divorce in Arkansas.

Grounds for Divorce

In Arkansas, either spouse may file for divorce if the parties have lived apart from each other for at least 18 months. In this case, you do not need any other grounds. However, if you have not lived apart for 18 months or if the marriage is a covenant marriage, the court must find grounds for divorce including adultery, habitual alcohol abuse, felony conviction, or an agreement between the spouses to dissolve their marriage. Find a complete list of the grounds for divorce in Arkansas in section 9-12-301 of the Arkansas Code. Bottom of Form.

Residency Requirement and Waiting Period

At least one spouse must live in Arkansas for 60 days prior to filing a petition for divorce. You must file the petition in the county where you reside and then wait at least 30 days before a court will grant the divorce.

Property Division in Arkansas

Arkansas is an equitable distribution state. This means the court will distribute one-half of all property acquired during the marriage to each spouse, unless the court finds that the distribution will be inequitable or unfair. In that case, the judge will look at other factors to determine an equitable distribution, including the length of the marriage, debts, and each spouse's income and occupation. "Property" includes personal possessions, real property (home), and income. Also, property acquired before marriage or after separation is considered the separate property of the spouse who acquired it.

Alimony

Arkansas courts may grant "alimony" or "spousal support" to either spouse for a specific period of time. Alimony will end if the receiving spouse remarries, establishes another relationship that produces a child, or if either spouse dies.

Child Support

Arkansas courts use the family support guidelines to determine how much child support will be paid by the non-custodial parent. Payment of child support continues until the child is 18 or finishes high school. The court may make an order for continued support if the child has a disability and cannot live apart from the custodial parent. It may also order the non-custodial parent to provide health insurance for the child. Child support payments will be deducted from the paying parent's paycheck or paid through the Arkansas child support clearinghouse unless the court orders otherwise. To modify a child support order, a parent must show a material change in circumstances such as a significant change in income. Child support orders in Arkansas are enforced by the Office of Child Support Enforcement.

Child Custody

Arkansas courts determine child custody based on the best interest of the child without regard to the sex of the parent. The court will generally order legal and physical custody to one parent (sole custody) with visitation rights to the non-custodial parent unless the parents agree to joint (shared) custody. When making custody orders, the court may take into consideration which parent has more interaction with the child, which parent has been the primary caregiver, and which parent is more likely to allow frequent contact with the non-custodial parent. The court may also consider the preferences of the child. In rare cases, Arkansas courts may find that it is in the child's best interest to award custody to a grandparent. In this case, the parents will not have legal or physical custody of the child, but may have visitation rights.

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