Divorce is always difficult, no matter the circumstances. A divorce proceeding can bring up all sorts of financial and emotional difficulties that make the process feel that much longer. If you are considering filing for divorce in Arkansas, you might have some questions about what to expect.
By Arkansas law, a divorce must take at least a month from filing to resolution, even if the respondent spouse doesn’t contest the action. If the divorce is contested, the court will need to hear from both parties on the subject, which can lengthen the timeline. Further complications that tend to cause longer divorce proceedings include circumstances where there is no agreement on distribution of martial property or if children are involved.
If you are seeking a divorce in Arkansas, you deserve the best representation available to you. The divorce attorneys at Gunn Kieklak Dennis LLP have years of experience representing our clients in Arkansas. We are dedicated to achieving your desired results in the most discrete and swift manner possible. To hear more about our services, call us at (479) 439-9840.
Minimum Time Requirement for Divorce in Arkansas
In order to get a divorce in Arkansas, one of the two spouses must first file a complaint for divorce with the Clerk of the Court in the county where you live, which starts the divorce process. The filing spouse must also serve their partner with a summons. According to Ark. Code § 9-12-310, a judge is unable to render a decision granting a divorce until at least a month has passed since the complaint for divorce was filed. The only exception to this rule is if the two parties have each lived entirely separate from the other for a period of at least a year prior to the filing. In such cases, a judge may waive the thirty-day waiting period but is not necessarily obligated to do so.
Before you file for divorce in Arkansas, you or your spouse must have been a resident of the State of Arkansas for no less than 60 days. Additionally, you will have to remain a resident of Arkansas for at least 30 days after you file the complaint.
Length of Fault vs. No-Fault Divorce in Arkansas
Arkansas typically requires that applicants for divorce state fault, or the grounds for the divorce, when filing. The spouse who responds to the other’s action for divorce (or the “non-filing party”) may either choose to contest or not contest the implications of fault in the complaint for divorce. If the divorce is not contested, the process tends to move more quickly, even if the judge determines that you should come to court to verify your desire for a divorce. However, if the non-filing spouse contests the veracity of the complaint’s claims, the court must hear arguments and testimony from both parties in order to reach a decision.
The following are the acceptable grounds for a fault-based divorce in Arkansas:
- Cruelty or barbarous treatment
- Felony conviction
- Lack of support (requires a legal obligation to provide support)
- Committal to a mental health facility
- Habitual drunkenness or substance abuse
- General indignities
The broadest (and most commonly utilized) of the grounds listed is general indignities. Vaguely, this requires a showing that the non-filing spouse has made the moving spouse’s life sufficiently intolerable to require a divorce.
Despite what you may read elsewhere, Arkansas does recognize no-fault divorce. However, achieving a no-fault divorce requires that the couple have lived separately and had no contact for at least 18 consecutive months prior to the divorce action. Any marital contact that interrupts the 18-month period prior to the filing of the divorce action restarts the clock.
Factors that Can Make Divorce Take Longer in Arkansas
As a general rule, divorce proceedings where the parties are able to find more common ground take less time. Each quarrel that the couple has over aspects of the divorce is another area where the court will require hearing time. Hearings require introduction of evidence such as witness testimony that can take time to prepare and introduce. Further, a court will need to reason out every issue that can’t be determined privately, which requires a complex balancing of legal analyses for the sake of achieving equity. In other words, if you ask the court to make a decision for you, that decision will usually take time.
Once fault is established in a divorce action, the divorce will be granted. The elements of the divorce left to decide are what will determine how long that process will take. These elements include alimony payments, equitable distribution of property, and child support and custody if there are children involved. Spouses can come to an agreement on any of these terms except custody, effectively bypassing the need for a court decision.
An Arkansas court will commonly accept documentation or witness testimony to aid in their consideration of the terms of the divorce. The court may also use any evidence introduced to prove fault in making their determination. However, there is some specific information that the court will require before making any decision, such as the assets and income of both parties, the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage, any medical needs, the duration of the marriage, and future plans. Introduction of this information may take additional time.
Finally, you should be aware that courts in Arkansas that handle divorce can get backed up relatively quickly. Depending on what is on the docket, you may end up waiting a month or longer just to get into the court room. Once you get there, you should have the help of a Fort Smith Arkansas divorce attorney who is familiar with the rules of procedure in court and can help accelerate the process.
Call Gunn Kieklak Dennis LLP to Get Your Divorce Started Today
We know what a long, drawn out divorce can do to a person. You deserve the utmost care and dedication for your divorce process. To speak to one of our Bentonville Arkansas divorce attorneys, call the offices of Gunn Kieklak Dennis LLP at (479) 439-9840.