Uncontested Divorce in Arkansas
Find out more about the uncontested divorce process in Arkansas.
Many people think of divorces as long, drawn-out procedures to end a marriage. While many contested divorces do last a year or longer, uncontested divorces are often finished in a month or two.
Several states allow spouses to get an uncontested divorce when the couple agrees on all the terms of their divorce-related issues, such as custody, child support, alimony and the division of assets.
This article will explain how to get an uncontested divorce in Arkansas. If you have additional questions about uncontested divorce in Arkansas after reading this article, contact your county circuit clerk’s office or speak with a local family law attorney.
Requirements for an Uncontested Divorce in Arkansas
To get an uncontested divorce in Arkansas, at least one spouse must have lived in the state for at least 60 days. The court also requires proof that the spouses have separated and don’t live together. These requirements can be proved by having a third party testify or sign an affidavit (a written declaration) corroborating those facts.
The spouse filing for an uncontested divorce is the “plaintiff,” and the other spouse is called the “defendant.” In an Arkansas uncontested divorce, the plaintiff must provide a reason, or grounds, for divorce.
Arkansas allows no-fault divorce, which is defined as living separately for 18 months voluntarily.
An uncontested divorce may also be based on one of the following fault grounds:
- mental illness for three consecutive years
- felony conviction for one spouse
- cruel treatment
- personal indignities, meaning a spouse has made life intolerable for the other
- habitual drunkenness, or
- refusing to support a dependent spouse.
Most uncontested divorces are filed on no-fault grounds because it means the spouses aren’t blaming each other for the divorce; the plaintiff spouse doesn’t have to prove that the other spouse committed some sort of marital misconduct, and the defendant doesn’t have to admit that he or she did anything wrong.
Also, in most uncontested divorces, spouses must agree on the terms of the divorce in a settlement agreement. The settlement agreement will resolve the following issues: property division, debt division, child custody, child support, visitation and alimony.
How to File for an Uncontested Divorce in Arkansas
Prepare and file your divorce papers
To start the process for an uncontested divorce, you should file a “Complaint for Divorce” in the circuit court clerk’s office of the county where you live. To learn more, follow this link to contact information for all of the Arkansas Circuit Courts.
If you are not a resident of Arkansas, you should file the complaint in the county where your spouse lives. The complaint should state the grounds for divorce, which spouse has resided in Arkansas for at least 60 days, that you and your spouse are separated, and the length of time you and your spouse have lived separately.
Serve your spouse
The circuit court will issue a “Summons” to be delivered to your spouse. Your spouse can accept service of the summons by agreement, or it can be served on your spouse by a sheriff. If your spouse agrees to accept service, your spouse can sign an “Entry of Appearance” and a “Waiver of Service of Summons” - documents that can be found at your county circuit court clerk’s office.
Attend a divorce hearing
Once your spouse has filed the entry of appearance and waiver of service, or the summons has been delivered to your spouse, the court will schedule a hearing for your divorce. The hearing has to be held at least 30 days after the complaint for divorce was filed.
At the divorce hearing, you should be prepared to have a witness testify that you or your spouse lives in the state and that you and your spouse no longer live together.
The court can also accept a signed and notarized affidavit from someone other than you or your spouse, which states that you or your spouse is a resident of Arkansas and that you don’t live with your spouse.
If you have signed a settlement agreement, you will present it to the judge at the hearing. Once the judge is satisfied that you’ve met the requirements for an uncontested divorce, the judge will sign a decree of divorce.
If you have additional questions about uncontested divorce in Arkansas, you should speak with a local family law attorney.
To read the full text of the law on uncontested divorce in Arkansas, read the Arkansas Code Annotated § 9-12-306-307.