There are two main types of divorce in Arkansas: contested and uncontested, and if you want to end your marriage, you have to choose one. In this article, we will tell you about the differences between each of them and give some tips on how you can end your marriage faster and easier.
What is a Contested Divorce in Arkansas?
A contested divorce means that there are disagreements between the spouses regarding their separation, which they cannot resolve on their own. The case will, therefore, be considered by the court. The parties may have disagreements about the division of joint property, custody of the children, grounds for divorce, or other issues related to marriage dissolution.
A contested divorce implies that both parties use the services of a lawyer, which can make the process costly. All disagreements will be considered by a judge, whose decision may not always satisfy the parties. The final decision will only be made after the court has dealt with all the disputes. Therefore, it can drag on and take up to a year.
What is an Uncontested Divorce in Arkansas?
This is the exact opposite of a contested divorce. Its essence is that spouses resolve all their controversial issues before going to court. It implies signing a Settlement Agreement
, which covers the division of property and custody over minor children, distribution of alimony, and other controversial issues that may arise during the divorce process.
In addition, in an uncontested divorce, spouses do not need to hire lawyers since they can prepare all the documents on their own and file them with a court. This is also known as a do-it-yourself divorce and can significantly reduce the cost of a divorce. An uncontested divorce usually ends much faster since the judge does not have to sort out the couple's disagreements. They simply make the final decision based on the existing agreement between them.
Grounds for Divorce in Arkansas
To initiate the divorce process, the spouses must demonstrate statutory grounds. These include:
• One of the spouses was convicted of a felony;
• Habitual drunkenness;
• Cruel and abusive treatment;
• General indignities;
• Lack of support;
• Living separate and apart for eighteen 18 continuous months (it best suits uncontested divorce);
• The spouse’s incurable insanity, resulting in being committed to a mental health facility for three years.
How to Divide Property in Arkansas?
Regardless of the type of divorce, spouses will have to divide marital property. In case of an uncontested divorce, they determine who will own which property. And if the judge finds this decision honest and fair, they will approve it.
In a contested divorce, if the spouses cannot agree, the division of property is up to the judge. Arkansas is an equitable distribution state. Thus, the judge will consider each spouse's contribution to the acquisition of property, the running of the household, and the perceived wealth of each partner after the divorce, to make a final decision.
When divorcing, it is also worth considering that only common property is subject to division, namely, what was acquired in marriage (including loans). Gifts or property acquired before the wedding are considered separate and can not be divided in most cases.
How to Share Custody Over Minor Children Arkansas?
If the couple has common minor children
, the spouses will also have to determine who will be the main custodian and appoint visiting hours for the other parent. Arkansas law considers both parents equally when deciding who will get the main rights. Besides, custody is assigned based on the best interests of the child.
In Arkansas, Joint Custody is preferred if the parents are willing to work with each other to ensure the best conditions for the child to grow up. With this type of guardianship, both parents have the same rights in making important decisions in the child's life.
If the divorce is contested and the spouses cannot compromise regarding the separation of custody, the court will make this decision based on the child’s needs. The judge can make one of the parents the primary caregiver (if this is in the child’s best interests), while the other parent will have the right to spend time with the child during certain hours.
Alimony in Arkansas Divorce
When filing for divorce, you can also ask the court to order spousal support. This is a certain amount of money paid from one spouse to the other during or after a divorce to maintain a certain financial situation. In Arkansas, there are no exact rules for awarding alimony. Much depends on the characteristics of the couple. However, if the marriage has common minor children, the chance of getting spousal support increases.
How to File for Divorce in Arkansas?
Before filing for divorce, either spouse must have lived in the state for at least 60 days. In the case of a contested divorce, a lawyer handles all the paperwork. If the spouses claim an uncontested case and want a DIY marriage dissolution, they will have to fill out the Complaint for Divorce and submit it to the local court.
Additional forms may also need to be completed, depending on the circumstances of the couple. The spouse who files papers is called the petitioner, and the other party is called the respondent. After the petitioner submits the documents to the court, they must send copies to the respondent, also known as serving the spouse.
From the moment the documents are filed, it must take at least 30 days before the court orders a hearing. Usually, the judge grants a divorce there, and the spouses are not always required to be present.
What is an Online Divorce?
When they say online divorce, they mean a special service for preparing forms. Please do not be confused; it is not possible to get a divorce over the internet. But it is possible to prepare quality forms online without an attorney, even if you do not have a legal background.
Online divorce is a term that refers to online services aimed at preparing the necessary package of documents. Spouses are asked to answer a series of questions about their marriage and dissolution. The system will select the appropriate forms and fill them out according to the requirements of the law and the circumstances of the couple. On average, it takes up to 2 business days.
is an inexpensive and affordable alternative to lawyers if your case is uncontested since the cost of web divorce services is significantly lower. Unfortunately, this option is not suitable for contested cases.
Along with the ready-made forms, spouses will also receive instructions on how to file the papers themselves. Thus, you will know exactly what steps to take and can be organized through the whole process.