If you have decided to file for divorce and want to know what the legal process involves, this article will give you a guide of how to file for divorce in the State of Arkansas.
Your county may have requirements in addition to what is stated below, so you should always check your county court rules on your county’s local website to find out what other steps you may need to take.
If you have specific questions about your particular case, you should contact an experienced Arkansas family law attorney.
Your first steps in the divorce process involve filling out the appropriate divorce forms and determining where you need to “file” or submit them: you need to make sure you’re filing your forms in the correct county.
You should file for divorce in the county where you live, and you must have been a resident of that county for at least 60 days prior to filing for divorce. If you don’t live in Arkansas, but your spouse does, you may file in the county where your spouse lives.
The first form to complete when filing for divorce is the “Complaint for Divorce.” The spouse filing for divorce is referred to as the “Plaintiff,” and the other spouse is the “Defendant.”
Your complaint should state that at least one spouse has been a resident of Arkansas for at least 60 days, and it must state a legal ground for divorce. In Arkansas, you must file based on one of the following grounds:
Any other issues you want the court to address should also be identified in the complaint, such as property and debt division, child custody, child support and alimony.
If you and your spouse have agreed on all of your divorce issues, you may be able to do an “uncontested divorce,” where you and your spouse agree on everything to be decided, but you would need to prepare and sign a property settlement agreement and state that all issues raised in your complaint have been resolved.
“Filing” for divorce means you have given your divorce complaint to the clerk’s office or the circuit court in the county where you’re filing. You’ll give a copy of your signed complaint to the clerk, and they should give you a copy with a date stamp and notation showing that it has been filed with the court.
The clerk will then issue a “Standard Restraining Order,” which states that neither spouse may dissipate (waste) funds or assets, and that neither spouse should harass the other.
In Arkansas, your divorce cannot be granted until 30 days after you filed your complaint for divorce.
You have to give your spouse a copy of your filed complaint - this is called “serving” your complaint. You can serve your complaint on your spouse in any county of the state of Arkansas. There are several ways to serve your complaint on your spouse.
If your spouse agrees, your spouse or your spouse’s attorney can simply accept service. Your spouse should sign a form you can find at your county clerk’s office called an “Entry of Appearance and Waiver of Service of Summons.” This form must be signed and notarized.
You may also have your complaint served by the sheriff’s office in your county. The sheriff will pick up the complaint from the clerk’s office and deliver it to your spouse. The sheriff will then return to the clerk’s office and make a note in your court docket that your spouse was either served personally, or the complaint was left at the residence, which also qualifies as service.
You may serve your spouse by registered or certified mail. If your spouse accepts the package, the return receipt showing it has been delivered is your proof to the court that you have served your spouse with the complaint. If your spouse refuses service, the court will accept the certification showing it was refused as if the package has been delivered.
If your spouse cannot be found, you can still serve your spouse by having the court issue an order called a “warning order.” The warning order is published in a newspaper or other publication that runs in the county of the court giving the order.
Depending on local rules, your county may require that you make certain financial disclosures when you file for divorce.. Some types of information and documents you will likely need to produce to your spouse include:
You can find detailed information on the divorce process and related issues at our section on Arkansas Divorce and Family Laws.
For the full text of the law governing filing for divorce, custody, child support and alimony in Arkansas, see Arkansas Code, §9-12-1 through §9-14-807. http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/arcode/Default.asp
Information on the circuit courts of Arkansas can be found here: https://courts.arkansas.gov/courts/circuit-courts. This site also includes a link to the Arkansas child support guidelines and other domestic relations forms (see the Forms and Publications tab).
Online Arkansas divorce forms are also available here: http://www.arlegalservices.org/divorcepacket