Fayetteville, AR Family Law Attorney
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. If you require legal assistance to handle a family law matter, you should work with an experienced Fayetteville family law attorney as soon as possible.
Fayetteville Family Law Attorneys Serving Families in Northwest Arkansas
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 Fayetteville and Northwest Arkansas area.
To set up a confidential legal consultation with Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP, call our law offices right away at (479) 439-9840. We are there to help your family around the clock, including evenings and weekends. Your information will be kept confidential. You may also contact the firm online to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys.
Types of Family Law Issues Our Fayetteville, AR Attorneys Handle
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 Fayetteville, AR family law lawyer who will fight aggressively to protect you and your son or daughter’s best interests.
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 family lawyer can help to keep the process as quick, simple, and efficient as possible.
Division of Property
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.
It is also important to note that alimony is intended to be a temporary arrangement with a former spouse until they are financially independent. However, if a former spouse does not take any steps to become self-sufficient within a reasonable amount of time, this may be valid grounds to challenge the alimony court order. For example, if your former partner has not tried to seek employment after the divorce, you could use this as evidence in your case.
To learn more about child custody matters and other family law issues, you should continue reading and consider working with an experienced Fayetteville family law attorney today.
There are various types of child custody that a parent could be awarded in Arkansas. As mentioned, the parents of a child could attempt to create a custody agreement that must be followed by each parent. However, if a parent violates the agreement or the parents cannot agree on terms for child custody, it may be wise to settle this matter in court.
If you decide to bring your child custody case to the court, you could be awarded one of the following types of child custody.
Joint Physical and Legal Custody
Physical custody is when one parent primarily lives with and cares for the child. Legal custody is when a parent is permitted to make decisions for the child that will affect their future, such as education, healthcare, religion, and other related matters. If parents are awarded joint physical and legal custody, each parent is allowed to spend roughly 50% of the year with the child and are able to make important life-changing decisions for the child.
Joint Physical Custody
Joint physical custody provides each parent with equal rights regarding how much time each parent can spend with their children. For instance, if the parents are permitted to spend 15 days a month with the child, neither parent can deny the other the time provided to them by the court.
It is also important to note that joint physical custody does not allow a parent to make legal decisions for the child. It is possible to have joint physical custody but not have legal custody over the child.
Joint Legal Custody
As mentioned, joint legal custody is when each parent has the ability to make important life decisions for the child.
Sole Legal and Physical Custody
Sole legal and physical custody occurs when one parent is awarded the right to live with the child and make legal decisions on behalf of the child. Sole legal and physical custody is typically only awarded when a parent has not played a large role in a child’s life or is not fit to care for the child.
If you are engaged in a child custody matter, and you need assistance, our dedicated Fayetteville, AR family law lawyers are here for you. Our firm could analyze the details of your case in order to build a valid claim to secure custody of your child. There are also other family law issues that our firm could help you resolve, depending on the circumstances of your case. For example, we could help you draft a prenuptial agreement or assist with modifying a child support order.
Fayetteville, AR Family Law Attorneys Fighting for Spouses, Fathers, and Mothers
When the divorcing couple has children together, the marriage dissolution process in Fayetteville, AR 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, family courts in Fayetteville 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
- The education level and earning potential of each parent
- Whether one parent acted as a stay-at-home parent or was not in the workforce for a significant amount of time
- Each parent’s criminal record, if any
- Each parent’s mental and physical health
- Both parents’ willingness and ability to work together to raise a child
- The child’s personal preference if they are old enough to articulate a choice
- Whether one parent was abusive to the other parent or whether either parent engaged in physical or verbal abuse of a child
- Whether a parent abandoned the child for a significant amount of time
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 amount of a child support order will depend on a number of factors. Custody of a child is one of the major factors to consider when the court sets a child support amount. For example, if one spouse has sole custody of a child and is responsible for providing the child’s everyday needs like food or clothing, the other parent will likely have to pay child support.
Another factor when handling a child support order is the income of the parent. Parents with a high income level will typically be required to chip in more money in comparison to their earnings. If a parent neglects to pay child support or intentionally does not pay, this could lead to a number of legal issues. For example, the delinquent parent could have their wages garnished or could even face criminal penalties.
The Fayetteville, AR 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) 717-9068 to arrange a completely confidential legal consultation regarding your divorce, custody dispute, child support dispute, or alimony dispute. You could also contact the firm online to schedule your free consultation.