An Overview of the Divorce Process in Arkansas
The divorce process of Arkansas is similar to the divorce processes of many other states. To complete a divorce, the parties have to follow numerous steps. If these steps are not completed properly, then the divorce cannot be finalized. In this post, we will go over the steps of Arkansas’s divorce procedure, one by one.
Residency Requirements for Filing
The first step in the Arkansas divorce procedure is making sure that you are eligible to file for divorce in our state. To be eligible, either the petitioner or the defendant (i.e. the person who initially files, or the person who responds) must reside in Arkansas for a minimum of 60 days before the initial filing. Furthermore, one of the parties must reside in Arkansas for a full 3 months before a divorce will be granted. In Arkansas, no divorce is completed in fewer than 30 days, and so this second residency requirement will be fulfilled naturally if the first requirement is met.
Citation of Grounds
In order to file for divorce, the petitioner will need to cite “grounds,” which essentially means the reason for the divorce. Arkansas recognizes one type of no-fault grounds, and many types of fault-based grounds. The single no-fault-based grounds which is allowed is separation for 18 continuous months or longer. In other words, if you and your spouse have been living apart for at least 18 months, then you will not need to cite any other grounds. Arkansas recognizes the following fault-based grounds: impotence, conviction of a serious crime, alcoholism/substance addiction, cruel treatment, adultery, incurable insanity, general indignities, and others. Readers should note that some of these grounds have specific definitions, and so you will need to consult with an attorney to determine whether a given situation falls within one of these definitions.
Petition and Delivery of Paperwork to Spouse
The next step is to file the initial petition and then deliver copies of the petition and summons to your spouse. The initial petition will contain basic personal information, information about the marriage, and the grounds which have been cited. When you deliver the paperwork to your spouse, you will need to serve the paperwork in a particular manner, and so you will need to prepare adequately for this requirement.
Response from Spouse
Next, your spouse will review the petition and then file an official response. The response is essentially your spouse telling his or her side of the situation. Your spouse’s response is critical, because this can determine whether you have any issues to resolve, or you can proceed without any unresolved issues.
Contested vs. Uncontested
If your spouse does not object to the grounds, and there is no dispute as to any relevant issues – such as property division, child custody, alimony, etc. – then the divorce will be regarded as “uncontested” and can be finalized quicker than a divorce with disputed issues. If you have children, then you will still need to determine the child support amount, and that requires submitting separate, additional forms to the Court.. However, if your spouse raises objections, or wishes to dispute an issue, then the divorce is “contested,” and you will need to resolve these matters by agreement or at a hearing before the divorce can be finalized.