Arkansas Divorce Laws

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At least one party must reside in the state for 60 days to file for divorce and for 3 months before a divorce will become finalized. The proceedings shall be in the county where the complainant resides. If the complainant is not a resident of Arkansas, then the proceedings shall be in the county where the defendant resides. [ Based on Arkansas Code 9-12-301 and 9-12-307]

Legal Grounds for Divorce

When husband and wife have lived separate and apart from each other for eighteen (18) continuous months without cohabitation, the court shall grant an absolute decree of divorce at the suit of either party, whether the separation was the voluntary act of one party or by the mutual consent of both parties or due to the fault of either party or both parties. General grounds for divorce include:

  • impotence
  • conviction of a felony
  • habitual drunkenness for 1 year
  • abuse which endangers the life of a spouse
  • adultery
  • incurable insanity causing a separation of 3 or more years

A plaintiff who seeks to dissolve and set aside a covenant marriage shall state in his or her petition for divorce that he or she is seeking to dissolve a covenant marriage as authorized under the Covenant Marriage Act of 2001.

Legal Separation

The courts may enforce the performance of written agreements between husband and wife made and entered into in contemplation of either separation or divorce (and decrees or orders for alimony and maintenance by sequestration of the property of either party). [Based on Arkansas Code 9-12-313]

Simplified or Special Divorce Procedures

In uncontested cases, proof as to residence and proof of separation and continuity of separation without cohabitation may be corroborated by either oral testimony or verified affidavit of persons other than the parties. [Based on Arkansas Code 9-12-306]

Mediation or Counseling Requirements

Divorcing parents are required to complete at least 2 hours of parenting classes or submit to mediation in regard to addressing parenting, custody, and visitation issues. [Based on Arkansas Code 9-12-322]

Property Distribution

Arkansas is an equitable distribution state. Marital property is property acquired during the marriage by either spouse. All marital property shall be distributed one-half to each party unless the court finds such a division to be inequitable, in which case the following factors shall be taken into consideration:

  • The length of the marriage
  • Age, health, and station in life of each party
  • Employability, vocational skills, occupation, and amounts and sources of income of each spouse
  • The contribution of each spouse to the marital estate, including the services as a homemaker
  • The property, debt, and needs of each spouse and the opportunity of each for further acquisition of capital assets and income
  • The federal income tax consequences of the court's division of property

All other property shall be returned to the party who owned it prior to the marriage unless the court shall make some other division that the court deems equitable taking into consideration the above factors. Separate property includes property owned prior to the marriage, gifts, inheritances, and benefits received or to be received from a workers' compensation claim, personal injury claim, or social security claim when those benefits are for any degree of permanent disability or future medical expenses. [Based on Arkansas Code 9-12-315]

Alimony/Maintenance/Spousal Support

Alimony may be awarded to either spouse by fixed installments for a specific period, ending upon the death of either party, remarriage of the receiving spouse, the establishment by the receiving spouse of a relationship that produces a child or children, or the contingencies outlined in the award.

Spouse's Name

When the court finds that either party is entitled to a divorce, the court may restore the wife to the name which she bore previously to the marriage. [Based on Arkansas Code 9-12-318]

Child Custody

The award of custody of a child of the marriage shall be made without regard to the sex of a parent but solely in accordance with the welfare and best interest of the child, including:

  • The preferences of the child, if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to reason.
  • Which party is more likely to allow frequent and continuing contact with the non-custodial parent.
  • Domestic abuse by either party.

When a court order holds that it is in the best interest of a child to award custody to a grandparent, the award of custody shall be made without regard to the sex of the grandparent. [Based on Arkansas Code 9-13-101]

Child Support

In determining a reasonable amount of support, the court shall refer to the most recent revision of the family support chart. Child support is to be paid through the Arkansas child support clearinghouse. If the paying parent is not self-employed, payment is paid by a wage assignment. Child support continues until age 18, unless the child has not yet graduated from high school, or has a disability that will prevent independent living. [Based on Arkansas Code 9-12-312, 9-14-102, 9-14-106]

Premarital Agreement

A premarital agreement is not enforceable if the party against whom enforcement is sought proves that:

  • that party did not execute the agreement voluntarily; or
  • that party did not waive the right to or receive a full disclosure or property or financial obligations.

If a provision of a premarital agreement modifies or eliminates spousal support and that modification or elimination causes one (1) party to the agreement to be eligible for support under a program of public assistance at the time of separation or marital dissolution, a court, notwithstanding the terms of the agreement, may require the other party to provide support to the extent necessary to avoid that eligibility. [Based on Arkansas Code 9-11-406]