In Arkansas, divorces can either be contested or uncontested. If the parties agree on the divorce and how assets will be divided and custody will be shared, it is considered an uncontested divorce. This process is relatively quick and inexpensive and might require the assistance of an experienced Arkansas divorce attorney to ensure that the papers are filed appropriately.
If the parties disagree about any aspect of the divorce, however, then the divorce will be considered contested. In Arkansas, there are both “fault” and “no fault” divorce options. A “no fault” divorce is granted whenever a husband and wife have lived separately from each other without cohabitation for at least 18 months. For a “fault” divorce, one spouse must allege that the other spouse did something to cause the divorce. The grounds for a divorce in Arkansas include the following:
- Cruel and barbarous treatment
- Habitual drunkenness for at least one year
- Behavior that causes humiliation, shame or embarrassment to the other spouse
- Willful failure to support the other spouse.
In order to be granted a divorce, the party alleging fault must be able to prove that at least one of these grounds for divorce exists. A seasoned Arkansas family law attorney can work with a party to a “fault” divorce to help them either prove or disprove these grounds.
Once either a fault or no fault divorce has been proven, then the next step is to divide up marital property. Arkansas is an equitable division state, which means that a judge will divide up the property in a way that is fair, but not necessarily equally. A court will consider a wide range of assets as part of its property division, including real estate, retirement accounts, business interests, property such as cars and furniture and other property that the couple may have accrued during their marriage. A judge may also order spousal maintenance or alimony upon request of one of the parties; it is typically awarded whenever one spouse has a much higher salary and the other spouse requires support to maintain the standard of living that he or she had during the marriage.
If the marriage produced children, then child support, custody and visitation will also be determined by the court. This is a vital aspect of any divorce proceeding and it is often hotly contested by both parents. If child support is ordered, then it will be based on a calculation that includes factors such as the number of children and the income of the non-custodial parent.
Both fault and no-fault divorces can be incredibly complex legal proceedings in Arkansas, requiring a strong understanding of both the law and how the law is applied to particular situations. At Vernetti Law, we work with our clients to help them protect their financial and familial interests, using our skill and experience to achieve the best possible outcome.