Uncontested Divorce in Arkansas

Learn about the uncontested divorce process in Arkansas.

By , Attorney

There are generally two types of divorce available in most states: contested and uncontested. A divorce is "contested" when the spouses don't agree on some or all aspects of the divorce, meaning that a judge will hold a trial, examine the evidence, and call witnesses. The contested divorce process takes quite a while.

In contrast, in an uncontested divorce, the spouses agree on all of the issues required to end their marriage, so there's no need for the judge to hold a trial. An uncontested divorce is much faster and cheaper than traditional divorce—spouses can often use a DIY solution like an online divorce service. They do, though, also have the option of getting professional help.

Requirements for an Uncontested Divorce in Arkansas

To file for an uncontested divorce in Arkansas, at least one spouse must have lived in the state for at least 60 days. (Ark. Code Ann. § 9-12-307(a)(1)(A).) The court also requires proof that the spouses have separated and don't live together. You can prove these requirements can by having a third party testify or sign an affidavit (a written declaration) stating that they are true. (Ark. Code Ann. § 9-12-306(c)(2).)

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 based on the grounds that the spouses have been living separately for 18 months voluntarily. (Ark. Code Ann. § 9-12-301(b)(5).)

Alternatively, you can divorce on one of the following fault-based grounds:

  • impotence
  • adultery by either spouse
  • mental illness for three consecutive years
  • a 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.

(Ark. Code Ann. § 9-12-301.)

Most uncontested divorces are filed on no-fault grounds because it's simpler: the spouses aren't blaming each other for the divorce, and neither spouse has to prove that the other spouse committed some sort of marital misconduct.

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 in Arkansas, you should file a "Complaint for Divorce" in the circuit court clerk's office of the county where you live. To learn more, visit this link to the Arkansas Circuit Courts website. You can also visit the Arkansas Legal Services website for self-help divorce forms.

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," and you must serve it on your spouse. Your spouse can accept service of the summons by agreement, or you can ask the local sheriff to deliver it for you. If your spouse agrees to accept service, your spouse can sign an "Entry of Appearance" and a "Waiver of Service of Summons"—documents that you can find at your county circuit court clerk's office. (Ark. Code Ann. § 16-58-116.)

Attend a divorce hearing

Once your spouse files the entry of appearance and waiver of service, or you've served the paperwork on your spouse, the court will schedule a hearing for your divorce. The court must wait at least 30 days after receiving the complaint for divorce before scheduling a hearing. (Ark. Code Ann. § 9-12-307(1)(B).)

At the divorce hearing, you should be prepared to have a witness testify that you or your spouse live in the state and that you and your spouse no longer live together.

If your witness can't attend the hearing, the court will accept a signed and notarized affidavit from the witness who 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 divorce decree.

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