Many people think of divorces as lengthy, drawn-out procedures to end a marriage. While many contested divorces can last a year or longer, the court may finalize your uncontested divorces 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, spousal 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.
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) corroborating those facts. (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, which courts define as living separately for 18 months voluntarily. (Ark. Code Ann. § 9-12-301 (b)(5).)
The court may base an uncontested divorce on one of the following fault grounds:
Most uncontested divorces are filed on no-fault grounds because it means the spouses aren’t blaming each other for the divorce. Typically, 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 any wrongdoing.
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.
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, 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.
The circuit court will issue a “Summons,” and you must serve it to 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 on your county circuit court clerk’s office. (Ark. Code Ann. § 16-58-116.)
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.
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.