Fayetteville Family Law Attorneys
Family law is a broad legal field encompassing divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, property division, and other matters related to marriage, separation, prenuptial agreements, and estate planning. Whether you need help filing for divorce, fighting for child custody, or modifying an existing alimony order, you can rely on the dedicated family law attorneys of Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP for affordable, high-quality legal representation, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Fayetteville Family Law Attorneys Serving Northwest Arkansas
The legal decisions made in family court will dramatically affect you and your child’s daily lives for many years to come. When your financial obligations, property ownership rights, and most importantly, relationship with your children all hang in the balance, you need skilled representation by an experienced and knowledgeable family law lawyer who will fight aggressively to protect you and your son or daughter’s best interests.
The attorneys of Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP have more than 20 years of experience representing mothers, fathers, grandparents, children, and teenagers in a wide variety of family court matters. We handle divorce and child custody cases throughout the Northwest Arkansas area, including Fayetteville, Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale, Bella Vista, Fort Smith, and other local communities.
To set up a confidential legal consultation with Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP call our law offices right away at (479) 717-9068. We are there to help your family around the clock, including evenings and weekends. Your information will be kept confidential.
Requirements for Filing for Divorce in Arkansas
To file for divorce in Arkansas, you must first meet Arkansas’ residency requirements. State law requires either you or your spouse to have been an Arkansas resident for at least 60 days prior to filing the divorce petition, which is also referred to as the complaint for divorce.
You must also identify your reason for dissolving the marriage, which is called the grounds for divorce. A period of 18 consecutive months of physical separation is grounds for a no-fault divorce in Arkansas. By comparison, fault divorces cite specific grounds such as adultery, habitual drunkenness, or conviction of a felony offense, some of which are subject to waiting periods.
The person who files the divorce petition is known as the petitioner, while the spouse upon whom the petition and accompanying divorce papers are served is called the respondent. The divorce process begins when the respondent is served and ends when the court grants the final decree of divorce, which may occur no earlier than 30 days following the date on which the divorce petition is filed.
If the divorce is contested, meaning the respondent and petitioner are in dispute regarding child custody or other matters, the process can take much longer to resolve fully, sometimes up to several years. Skilled representation by a Fayetteville divorce lawyer can help to keep the process as quick, simple, and efficient as possible.
Division of Property After a Divorce
If you are considering petitioning for a divorce, you should know about how property is distributed when two spouses divorce. When dividing property among divorced spouses, Arkansas follows an equitable division system. This means that instead of simply splitting property in half, the court will look at a variety of factors to determine how the property should be distributed:
- The age of each spouse
- The employment history and earning capacity of each spouse
- The level of education for each spouse
- Whether either spouse has a disability
- The contributions to the marriage made by each spouse like being a stay at home parent
It is important to note that property that is owned before the marriage will typically not be included in the division of property. It is also worth mentioning that depending on the various factors listed above, one spouse may have to pay alimony to the other. Alimony is money paid to a spouse, so they can continue to live in the manner they were accustomed to while they were married.
If the court determines that alimony must be paid to a spouse, they will also decide the amount of spousal maintenance necessary for a spouse to retain their previous lifestyle. If your former spouse also retains custody of any children born during the marriage, this may affect the amount of spousal support that must be paid.
Bentonville Custody Lawyers Fighting for Parental Rights of Fathers and Mothers
When the divorcing couple has children together, the marriage dissolution process can become substantially more complicated as heated disputes over child custody arise. If you and your spouse are unable to work out your own custody plan, it will eventually become necessary for the court to step in and impose a decision based on the evidence presented by your attorney as to why you, and not your spouse, should be granted custody.
If you and your spouse are willing and able to work cooperatively toward the common goal of raising your child, the court may grant joint custody in which your living arrangements and decision-making authority will be divided equally. Otherwise, you will want to fight for sole custody, in which your child will spend most of his or her time living in your household instead of your spouse’s.
It’s a common misconception that mothers “always win” custody over fathers. In reality, Arkansas family courts base their custody determinations not upon the parents’ genders, but upon which type of custody arrangement will give the child the safest, healthiest home environment. Toward that end, courts weigh variables such as:
- Each parent’s income level.
- Each parent’s criminal record, if any.
- Each parent’s health.
- Both parents’ willingness and ability to work together to raise a child
- The child’s personal preference.
Depending on the parent that has custody of the children, the court may determine it is appropriate for the other spouse to pay child support. An order for child support can last until the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school. However, other circumstances can increase the length of a child support order. For example, if a child has a disability and continues to live with a parent after they turn 18, child support may not be terminated.
The Fayetteville, Arkansas Family Law Attorneys at Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP are Here to Help
We understand how stressful it can be when you are going through a difficult divorce or custody dispute. Our goal is to reduce your stress and make a difficult time as easy and as simple as possible for you and your child. We will answer all of your questions, help you understand and exercise your rights, and handle all of the legal work on your behalf.
Don’t worry if you aren’t quite sure where to start, or aren’t certain which are the “right” questions to ask. That is exactly what the Fayetteville family law attorneys of Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP are here to assist you with, no matter how late at night or how early in the morning. Please don’t hesitate to call our law offices any time, including weekends, at (479) 439-1843 to arrange a completely confidential legal consultation regarding your divorce, custody dispute, child support dispute, or alimony dispute.