Uncontested Divorces in Arkansas – How the Process Works
Do you need help with an uncontested divorce?
Each month we get several calls about uncontested divorces. People use all sorts of phrases: uncontested divorce, agreed divorce, amicable divorce, friendly divorce, etc.
We define an uncontested divorce as the parties having agreed to the following elements:
- Division of Assets
- Division of Debts
- Custody of the Children
- Child Support (who and how much)
- Child Visitation
- Spousal Support
Once the parties have agreed on everything, it is our job to “make it legal”.
Please note that in Arkansas, a single attorney or firm cannot represent both parties. The potential for conflict is too great. For that reason, we will only meet with one of the parties at the initial meeting. The party that comes in for the appointment will be considered our client. If, later, the other party comes into our office (i.e. to sign the documents) we may ask them to sign a document stating that they understand that we are not their attorneys and that we cannot give them legal advice.
These are the steps to an uncontested divorce with our firm:
- Initial Meeting – This is when you explain to us what you and your spouse have agreed to.
- Complaint for Divorce – We prepare a Complaint for Divorce and file it with the Circuit Court. This starts the clock ticking. We must wait 30 days from the date of filing before we can finalize the divorce.
- Property Settlement Agreement – We prepare a Property, Child Custody, and Support Settlement Agreement – this document explains everything you have agreed to.
- Decree of Divorce – We prepare the Decree of Divorce – This document is what the judge will eventually sign to grant the divorce. This document will also state that all the provisions you agreed to in the Agreement will now be the order of the Court and shall be enforced by the Court if necessary. In short, the Judge puts her authority behind your agreement.
- Waiver of Service – We prepare a Waiver of Service and Entry of Appearance for your spouse’s signature – this is the document in which your spouse waives the formal process of service. In short, your spouse is stating that we do not need to hire a process server to find and legally serve them with the Divorce Complaint and Summons.
- Signing Party – Once all the provisions of the divorce have been agreed upon and outlined in the documents mentioned above, both parties sign them. This can be done in our office. Sometimes the opposing party does not want to come in, we are more than happy to send copies via mail or email so that he/she can review them and sign when ready.
- Final Hearing – One of our attorneys will request a hearing date with the Circuit Court. Uncontested divorces are usually held in the morning. We will ask you a few questions in front of the judge. You will need to have one witness to testify that you have lived in the County for more than 60 days prior to filing for divorce and that you remain a resident of the County. This is usually a friend or family member who knows where you live.
- Final Filings – Once the Judge has signed off on the Decree of Divorce, we file everything with the Circuit Court Clerk. Once those documents are filed, you are officially divorced.
One of the questions we always get is if a “soon to be ex-spouse” needs to be at the hearing. That depends.
If there are no child custody issues, or if one of the parties is taking primary custody of the children with the other spouse receiving visitation, only one party needs to appear.
If you are agreeing to joint legal and physical custody of your child(ren), many Judges want both parties at the final hearing. Judges want to verify that both parties can work together in a true Joint Custody scenario. Furthermore, our Judges want to make sure that parents understand what they expect of you in your new relationship as co-parents.
Everyone’s situation is different. Every case is unique. Your case might require additional steps. This information may not be applicable to your scenario.
If you and your spouse have agreed on the items discussed above, an Uncontested Divorce might be possible.