Fayetteville, AR Divorce Lawyer
Ending a marriage brings both emotional and legal challenges, particularly when young children are involved in the divorce process. At the law firm of Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP, our goal is to help you successfully navigate and overcome those challenges by providing personalized, around-the-clock legal support. Divorce is often difficult, but you can depend on our experienced and knowledgeable Fayetteville divorce attorneys to answer your questions, handle your paperwork, guide you through the legal process, and protect the best interests of you and your children.
The Grounds for Divorce and Residency Requirements in Fayetteville, AR
The person who files for divorce is known as the petitioner, while the person being served with divorce papers is known as the respondent. However, before you can file for divorce in Fayetteville, you must:
- Make sure you meet the Arkansas residency requirements for divorce.
- Determine the grounds for the divorce.
Under Ark. Code Ann. § 9-12-307, which establishes the state’s divorce residency requirements, either you or your spouse must be able to prove that at least one of you was an Arkansas resident:
- For at least 60 days prior to filing for divorce
- For at least three months before the final divorce decree is granted
The basis you cite for your divorce is known as the grounds for divorce. Depending on the grounds cited, a divorce can be described as either fault or no-fault. A no-fault divorce is a divorce based on a minimum 18-month period of physical separation, whereas a fault divorce points to a specific reason for the dissolution of the marriage. The state recognizes eight distinct fault grounds for divorce under Ark. Code Ann. § 9-12-301:
- Felony criminal conviction
- Habitual drunkenness (alcoholism) lasting at least one year
- “Cruel and barbarous treatment” that endangers the life of the other spouse or children shared with the spouse
- Engaging in behavior that makes the other spouse’s living conditions “intolerable”
- Being committed to a mental health institution for at least three years
- Willful failure to provide support for the other spouse
It is also important to note that the grounds for divorce may be different depending on the type of marriage you had. For example, if you and your spouse are filing for dissolution of a covenant marriage, both spouses must engage in authorized counseling before they can proceed with the divorce. However, after receiving counseling, many of the grounds for divorce will remain the same.
Additionally, after a decree of divorce, if a spouse changed their last name, the court may permit them to restore the name they had prior to the marriage.
How Long Does It Take to File for Divorce in Fayetteville, AR?
The answer to this question is different for every family. The amount of time it will take for your case to resolve depends largely on the extent to which there are disputes, if any, over matters such as alimony and the division of property. If there are minor children, child support, and child custody disputes may also arise. Depending on your family’s unique circumstances, your case may take anywhere from several months to several years to conclude.
Generally, Arkansas courts encourage divorcing spouses to work out their own mutually acceptable plans for child custody, property division, and other legal matters related to the dissolution of the marriage. However, if you and your spouse are unable to agree, and any aspects of your divorce are contested, the court may be forced to intervene and impose a decision based on the evidence which is presented.
At the bare minimum, you can expect that the divorce process will take at least 30 days to resolve. This is due to the waiting period established by Ark. Code Ann. § 9-12-307, which provides that “no decree of divorce… shall be granted until at least 30 days have elapsed from the date of the filing of the complaint [for divorce].”
Under certain circumstances, two individuals may be engaged in a voidable marriage. For example, if two people were too young to consent to a marriage, their marriage may be voidable. To learn more about filing for divorce in Fayetteville, you should consult with an experienced Fayetteville family law attorney.
Determining Child Custody During a Divorce
If you and your former spouse share minor children, determining who has child custody is another important issue. Previously, Arkansas courts would take the approach that a mother would have preference over a father when it comes to child custody. While it was customary for one parent to have custody of the children while the other would have visitation rights, courts have evolved and realized the importance of both parents in a child’s life.
When determining child custody, we has the best interests of the child in mind. This means that preferential treatment will not be given to a certain parent due to their sex or any other factor. Additionally, if the child is old enough to make certain decisions, the court will consider the preferences of the child. The following is a list of common factors that a court may consider when deciding a child custody matter:
- The financial stability of each parent
- The living situation of each parent, such as the number of bedrooms in their home and whether resides with relatives that could be harmful to the child
- The location of the parent’s home in comparison to the child’s school
- Whether the parents abandoned the child in the past
- The amount of time the parent spends with the child or caring for the child
This is not an exhaustive list. There could be other factors that the court may consider when determining a custody matter. If you wish to know more about the types of custody a parent could be awarded in a divorce, you should continue reading and speak with an experienced Fayetteville divorce attorney as soon as possible.
Types of Child Custody Available After a Divorce in Fayetteville, AR
There are multiple types of child custody that parents could be awarded in the event of a divorce. The following is a list of types of child custody that is available to parents in Fayetteville, AR.
Joint Physical and Legal Custody
Joint custody is when the parents of a child possess equal rights to live with the child. For instance, joint custody could mean that each parent has the right to spend 15 days a month with their child. Legal custody is the right of a parent to make important or life-changing decisions on behalf of a child. For example, legal custody would allow a parent to determine the child’s religion, education, important health decisions, and many other matters.
If the parents of a child share joint physical and legal custody, it means that they each possess the right to spend time with the child and to must come to an agreement regarding important decisions on behalf of the child.
Joint Physical Custody
As mentioned, joint physical custody means that each parent has the right to spend an equal amount of time with the child. This often means that parents will have to coordinate what days each parent will spend with the child. For example, one parent may want certain holidays or weekends. Our experienced Fayetteville divorce lawyers could help you seek a favorable joint physical custody order.
Joint Legal Custody
Joint legal custody gives each parent equal rights to make important decisions on behalf of the child.
Sole Legal and Physical Custody
Sole legal and physical custody is when only one parent is awarded the right to live with the child and make vital decisions for the child. The court will typically only award sole legal and physical custody when the other parent is unfit to care for the child. For example, if a parent rarely spends time with the child or is incapable of caring for the child, they are unlikely to be awarded custody rights.
After being awarded custody rights in a divorce, it is important for the parents to adhere to the court’s custody order. If a parent attempts to interfere with the other parent’s rights to see the child or make decisions for the child, this could lead to a number of legal issues. For example, a parent could be held in contempt of court and could be ordered to spend time in jail due to violating a custody order.
When handling child custody, it is almost guaranteed that alimony will have to be considered. Alimony is money paid to a former spouse in order to maintain the lifestyle they were accustomed to and to provide for children. If one spouse has custody over the children, the other spouse will likely be ordered to pay alimony. The number of alimony payments will depend on various circumstances like the cost of education or healthcare for a child.
It is important to note that alimony payments are intended to be a temporary measure. If a former spouse does not take steps to become financially dependent, it would be wise to consider steps on how to modify or eliminate the amount of alimony paid to the other parent.
Property Division in a Divorce in Fayetteville, AR
Property division is another essential part of completing a divorce. If you do not possess a prenuptial agreement or you and your former spouse cannot mutually agree on the distribution of property, the court may have to handle the matter.
When distributing property between parties in a divorce, the court would look at the following factors:
- The income level of each spouse
- The education level of each spouse
- The physical and mental health of each spouse
- Either spouse’s ability to obtain employment after the divorce
- Whether the couple had children during the marriage
- Whether one spouse supported the other as a stay-at-home parent
This is not a comprehensive list. A court may consider a number of other factors when it comes to dividing property between spouses. If you are worried about the property division process during divorce, you should contact one of our committed Fayetteville divorce attorneys as soon as possible. Gunn Kiekak Dennis, LLP, is here to help you get through a difficult divorce.
How an Experienced Fayetteville Divorce Attorneys Can Help
The Fayetteville, AR divorce lawyers of Gunn Kieklak Dennis have over 20 years of legal experience assisting the men and women of Northwestern Arkansas with divorce proceedings, child custody disputes, child support disputes, and alimony disputes. We are proud to serve the families of Fayetteville, AR during divorce.
If you are thinking about filing for divorce in Fayetteville, or if you have already been served with divorce papers and aren’t sure what to do next, turn to the skilled attorneys of Gunn Kieklak Dennis for assistance. We will help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities while walking you through the next steps.
To arrange for a confidential legal consultation, call our law offices today at (479) 717-9068. Please don’t hesitate to contact us late at night or early in the morning – we are here to serve you and your family 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our goal is to lighten your burden and simplify the legal process for you while aggressively defending your custody, alimony, and property rights. You could also use our online submission form to schedule your confidential consultation.
Trust Our Experienced Fayetteville Divorce Attorneys
If you are considering getting divorced in Fayetteville, or if you need help responding to a divorce petition, you can rely on the dedicated Fayetteville, AR divorce attorneys of Gunn Kieklak Dennis, LLP, for affordable quality legal representation. Call our law offices right away at (479) 717-9068 to schedule a completely confidential legal consultation. Don’t worry about having “too many questions” or not knowing where to start – that is exactly what we are here to assist you with. You may also use our online submission form to schedule your consultation with an experienced Fayetteville family law attorney.