Arkansas has one of the highest divorce rates in the country and politicians have taken aim at trying to fix that problem in the past by making process tougher than many other states. Here is how to file for divorce in Arkansas.
Residency and grounds for divorce
Arkansas will not grant you a divorce unless you have lived in the state for 60 days before filing. You must also have grounds for divorce. The no-fault ground for divorce in Arkansas is being separated for 18 months. That can be a very long time to live separately, maintaining two households, all while still being technically married and sharing each other’s rights and responsibilities financially.
Many couples seek a faster divorce on the grounds that the other spouse has made “such indignities to the person of the other as shall render his or her condition intolerable.” That can be harder to prove, as the other spouse is rarely going to just agree that his or her behavior was “intolerable.” The state also still has other fault grounds, including habitual drunkenness, impotency, committing a felony, and adultery.
It is important to remember that Arkansas recognizes two types of marriages. In 2001, the state created a new type of marriage called the Covenant Marriage. This idea was first passed by Louisiana in 1997, but popular Gov. Mike Huckabee brought it to Arkansas.
A covenant marriage requires premarital counseling and also imposes stricter requirements on getting a divorce.
Divorce from a covenant marriage can only be granted for abuse, abandonment, or adultery.
Even if one of those things occur, the couple cannot be divorced for two years. Very few couples have taken advantage of the covenant marriage law, but if you are considering divorce you should make sure you know what type of marriage you have.
Court process to file a divorce in Arkansas
Filing for divorce looks a lot like any other civil court case. If you are filing for divorce, you must file a complaint seeking a divorce in court. You then have to prove to the court that your spouse received a copy of that complaint and a summons that commands them to participate in the process. Your spouse may simply acknowledge that he or she received them, or you may need a sheriff to personally deliver them. This is called “serving” them with the papers. Your spouse will then have to respond within 30 days. Many divorces are settled at this point, but the court cannot grant a divorce for 30 days.
The case can then move into a process called discovery. Each spouse will be allowed to gather information from the other spouse.
You can usually request bank statements, car titles, and the like.
This can help you understand the value of the property you and your spouse should be splitting. During this process of exchanging information, there will usually be additional attempts to resolve differences.
If the couple cannot agree, then the court will eventually hold a hearing where it will consider and resolve issues like child support, child custody, property division, and spousal support. This may require you to bring paperwork and witnesses to court to show your side of the story.