Uncontested Divorce in Arkansas
Generally, there are two kinds of divorces: contested and uncontested divorce.
- A contested divorce occurs when the spouses do not agree to the terms of their divorce, including property division, child custody, child support, spousal support, etc. Thus, a contested divorce case can involve a series of court hearings so that the judge can deal with these disputes and make a final decision.
- In an uncontested divorce, the spouses do not have to go to court and argue. Instead, they resolve all their disputes by drafting a Settlement Agreement. This contract must be submitted to the court to communicate the couple's decisions for child-related issues, spousal support, and equitable distribution of marital property.
An uncontested divorce process tends to move faster and be more affordable than a contested divorce.
In particular, if the spouses are ready to negotiate, they can save money on legal fees by using alternative dispute resolution methods, online divorce services, etc., instead of seeking the help of a law firm to handle their divorce.
Get Your Divorce Forms Completed Online
Each divorce case starts with filing all the divorce forms with the Circuit Court Clerk, and each state (and, sometimes even county court) has its unique divorce papers. The spouses should approach this preparation stage of the divorce process responsibly. The thing is that completing legal forms can be highly complicated for a person without relevant experience, and any mistake may lead to court rejection and cause delays.
To avoid such risks, you can take advantage of DivorceOnline services. DivorceOnline.com is a leading online divorce website, providing a quick and cheap way to prepare divorce forms from the comfort of your home. For just $139, you can receive your completed divorce papers along with detailed written instructions on how to file them with your local court.
All you have to do is complete our simple online questionnaire and follow the step-by-step process. Based on your answers, we'll select all the documents you need and help to fill them out correctly according to Arkansas law. The ready-to-file divorce forms will be available within two business days once you’ve finished with the questionnaire.
Steps for Filing a Divorce in Arkansas
Divorce in Arkansas commonly includes several consecutive steps.
To be eligible to get a divorce in Arkansas, either the plaintiff (spouse filing the case) or the defendant (the plaintiff's spouse) must reside in Arkansas for at least sixty days before filing initial divorce documents with the court and three months before the final judgment granting the divorce. The divorce petition is typically filed in the county where the filing spouse lives.
Arkansas divorce laws recognize both no-fault and fault-based grounds for divorce. No-fault divorce means that neither spouse needs to prove marital misconduct for the court to grant the divorce. In an Arkansas divorce, the only no-fault ground is living separately for a continuous period of 18 months or more.
To file for divorce based on fault grounds, the plaintiff must prove to the court that the other spouse committed misconduct that led to the breakdown of the marital relationship. Arkansas divorce procedure provides for the following fault grounds:
- Conviction of a felony or other "infamous crime";
- Habitual drunkenness for at least one year;
- Cruel and barbarous treatment;
- Humiliation, making the other spouse's condition intolerable;
- The spouse's incurable insanity (either spouse has been committed to a mental health facility for at least three years before filing for divorce);
- Willful neglect to provide support for the other spouse while legally obligated to do so.
To start a divorce in Arkansas, the plaintiff must file the Complaint for divorce and other necessary Arkansas divorce papers with the Circuit Court.
Divorce papers in Arkansas
Some of the most common Arkansas divorce forms include:
- Complaint for Divorce
- Entry of Appearance and Waiver of Service of Summons
- Divorce Decree
Other forms that the spouses may need vary depending on the circumstances of their particular case.
If the plaintiff has any complications with their divorce paperwork, they may use online divorce services. With extensive experience in document preparation, DivorceOnline.com can help you deal with paperwork issues quickly and easily.
The plaintiff must pay a mandatory court filing fee when filing Arkansas divorce papers. The fee is about $165, but it can vary slightly from county to county. The exact amount is available at the Arkansas Courts website. However, if the plaintiff is in financial difficulty and cannot pay the filing fee, they can ask the court to waive it.
Divorce in Arkansas implies a mandatory waiting period of at least 30 days between filing a divorce complaint and the date the final judgment of divorce is entered.
The plaintiff must notify the defendant about the divorce by delivering copies of the Complaint for Divorce and Summons. The plaintiff can serve divorce papers in two ways:
- by using a process server or deputy sheriff;
- by sending the paperwork by certified mail (in this case, the Affidavit of Service by Mail with attached postal receipt card must be filed as an acknowledgment of service).
Once the defendant is served, they have 30 days to file an answer to the divorce complaint.
Even in an uncontested divorce in Arkansas, the spouses still may be required to attend a final hearing unless they have been legally separated for 18 months and the judge approved their Affidavit of Deposition. An uncontested court hearing is typically brief. The spouses need a witness who can testify that the couple meets Arkansas residency requirements. Also, the spouses need to submit their proposed Divorce Decree for court approval. The judge shall review all the paperwork to ensure everything is completed correctly and the couple's Settlement Agreement is fair. If so, the judge signs the Decree of Divorce, which must be filed with the Court Clerk.
Getting a Divorce With Children
There are two primary forms of child custody: legal and physical custody.
- Physical custody describes where the child lives and who takes care of the child on a regular basis.
- Legal custody describes who has the right and responsibility for major decisions concerning the child's upbringing (like the issues of education, religion, health care, etc.).
Both these forms of care can either be sole or joint in Arkansas. For example, the court may appoint legal custody to both parents (joint custody), along with sole physical custody granted to one parent.
However, Arkansas law assumes that the parents should have joint custody of minor children unless otherwise ordered by the court as in a child's best interests.
If the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan and custody arrangement on their own, the custody determination is at the judge's discretion. The court typically considers numerous factors and circumstances of a particular case, including:
- each parent's stability;
- each parent's physical and mental health;
- the child's physical and mental health;
- child's preferences (given the fact that the child is of sufficient capacity to express a reasonable opinion);
- the child's relationships with siblings and other family members;
- any substance abuse issues,
- and other factors that could affect the well-being of the child.
Besides, Arkansas Courts may require divorcing parents to complete specially-designed parenting classes or mediation sessions to address custody and visitation issues.
In the context of child support, the divorcing parents shall be ordered to pay child support based on the Arkansas Family Support Chart, which applies in most cases. Typically, basic child support is calculated as a percentage of the net income of the non-custodial parent (i.e., who doesn't have primary physical custody) after certain allowable deductions. Besides, the number of children and child-related expenses are taken into account. The obligation to support a child usually ends when the child turns 18 years of age or graduates from high school.
Filing for Divorce in Arkansas Without a Lawyer
Although a lawyer's assistance is necessary in complicated contested cases, an uncontested no-fault divorce can often be handled with limited legal advice or without an attorney at all. For example, even if the spouses have some disputed issues, they can resolve them through mediation rather than traditional litigation. This voluntary settlement process can save the divorcing spouses considerable stress, time, and money.
Representing yourself in a divorce case rather than hiring a lawyer is called Pro Se, or "DIY divorce." In a do-it-yourself divorce, the spouses themselves are responsible for completing the relevant Arkansas divorce papers and filing them with the court according to all the state's and county's requirements.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in Arkansas
The spouses attempting a DIY divorce can get Arkansas uncontested divorce forms from the Circuit Clerk's office or download blank forms from the Arkansas Judiciary website. However, the provided primary divorce forms can be insufficient. Depending on the circumstances of the case, additional documents may be needed. Moreover, each county can provide for its unique court forms. To avoid paperwork hassles, you can use DivorceOnline.com. This website offers a fast and straightforward online process of document preparation. We consider each couple's particular legal rights and obligations and provide all the relevant documents and filing instructions. Although DivorceOnline does not provide legal advice, we strive to provide comprehensive assistance with paperwork, not just sell blank forms.
Frequently Asked Questions:
The divorce timeline in Arkansas is mainly determined by the state's residency requirements and mandatory 30-day waiting period. However, the length of the divorce process also depends on whether the spouses contest the case and whether they have minor children.
On average, the cost of divorce in Arkansas is about $8,000. However, the total amount depends on whether the case is contested or not and whether you retain a lawyer. In Arkansas, flat-fee uncontested divorce representation typically varies between $1,000-$2,000. The spouses can file for divorce without a lawyer or use online divorce services to lower divorce costs.
The court filing fee is mandatory for all plaintiffs except those eligible for a fee waiver due to low income. If the plaintiff cannot afford to pay the filing fee, they may request a fee waiver (In Forma Pauperis) from the court. In any other case, divorce is not free in Arkansas, though there are ways to make it more affordable. For example, if the spouses do not contest the claim, they may use alternative dispute resolution methods or online divorce services instead of hiring high-priced attorneys.
Legal forms provided for divorce cases include but are not limited to Complaint for Divorce, Summons, Verification, Entry of Appearance and Waiver of Service of Summons, Affidavit of Service by Mail, Acknowledgment, Divorce Decree, Confidential Information Sheet, Affidavit in Support of Request to Proceed In Forma Pauperis, Restraining Order.