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Divorce is a difficult process that can take a toll emotionally and financially. If you are considering a divorce in Arkansas, it’s important to understand the steps involved, including residency requirements, grounds for divorce, and property division. In this article, I will walk you through the basic steps of getting a divorce in Arkansas.

To file for divorce in Arkansas, you or your spouse must be a resident of the state for at least 60 days. You will need to file a complaint for divorce with the circuit clerk in the county where you or your spouse lives. The complaint must include information about you, your spouse, your marriage, and the reason for the divorce. Arkansas is a no-fault divorce state, which means you do not need to prove fault to obtain a divorce. Irreconcilable differences, meaning that you and your spouse can no longer get along, is a valid reason for divorce in Arkansas.

Residency Requirements For Divorce In Arkansas

Getting a divorce in Arkansas begins with meeting the state’s residency requirements. Before filing for divorce, at least one spouse must have resided in Arkansas for a minimum of 60 days. Additionally, the divorce must be filed in the county where either spouse has lived for at least 60 days immediately preceding the divorce filing.

It’s important to note that residency requirements differ from the amount of time required for a divorce to be finalized. While meeting the residency requirement is necessary to initiate a divorce, the overall process can take much longer depending on various factors, including whether the divorce is contested or uncontested.

If a spouse does not meet the residency requirements, they may want to consider waiting until they do or filing for legal separation instead of a divorce. Legal separation can provide some of the same protections and orders as a divorce, without meeting the strict residency requirements.

In sum, the residency requirements for a divorce in Arkansas are as follows:

  • At least one spouse must have lived in Arkansas for at least 60 days before filing for divorce
  • The divorce must be filed in the county where either spouse has lived for at least 60 days immediately preceding the divorce filing

Meeting these requirements is necessary for filing a divorce in Arkansas.

Grounds for Divorce

In Arkansas, there are several grounds for divorce that must be cited in the dissolution of any marriage. As a resident of Arkansas, and as an expert blogger on family law, I can provide you with a comprehensive guide to the most common grounds for divorce in this state.

Fault Grounds for Divorce

In Arkansas, the following constitute fault grounds for divorce:

  • Adultery
  • Impotence
  • Felony conviction
  • Habitual drunkenness for one year
  • Abandonment for one year
  • Indignities that made life intolerable
  • Cruel and barbarous treatment that endangers the life of the spouse

If a spouse cites any of these grounds for divorce, evidence must be presented in court to prove that the allegations are true. Generally, divorces granted on fault grounds require more evidence and are more time-consuming than divorces granted on no-fault grounds.

No-Fault Grounds for Divorce

Arkansas also recognizes no-fault grounds for divorce. In no-fault divorces, neither spouse is held responsible for the breakdown of the marriage. The most common no-fault grounds for divorce in Arkansas include:

  • General indignities that destroyed the marriage relationship
  • Living separate and apart for 18 continuous months or longer
  • Incompatibility of temperament that caused the breakdown of the marriage

In no-fault divorces, the process is typically easier and quicker, requiring no evidence of fault on either party’s part.

Filing for divorce is a complex process, and getting it right is critical. If you are considering a divorce in Arkansas and need assistance, consult an experienced family law attorney.

Filing the Complaint

After going through all the pre-divorce procedures such as separation, consultation with attorneys and many counseling sessions, you may be ready to proceed with filing your complaint in the Arkansas courts. This is the first step in actualizing a divorce in the state.

Filing the complaint for divorce requires a fee of $165, and it can only be done by the plaintiff who is the one seeking the divorce. The complaint must be filed in the county where either of the parties resides, and any of the two grounds for divorce in the state must be declared in the complaint. These grounds include General Indignities and Fault, which includes adultery, felony charges, and desertion, among others.

The complaint must also indicate whether or not there are minor children involved in the divorce. If there are children, the plaintiff must also file Child Custody Affidavit and be sure to attach a proposed Parenting Plan. These documents will describe the parental rights and duties of each parent and how the custody of the child or children will be shared.

When filing, it’s essential to remember to provide accurate information in your complaint, especially the important dates such as the date of the marriage, date of separation, birth dates of children, and any other relevant dates. The complaint must also include all of the specific statutes that will apply to the case and the specific relief sought in the divorce such as child custody, child support, spousal support, and distribution of assets.

Once you have submitted your complaint to the clerk’s office, the clerk will provide the plaintiff with a copy of the complaint, summons, and scheduling order. The court will then serve the defendant by using the defendant’s address and by either certified mail or personal service.

It’s important to note that the filing of the complaint marks the beginning of an emotional and legal process that could take several months to complete and may require subsequent document filings, court appearances, and negotiations. It is essential to seek the services of a knowledgeable divorce attorney to guide you through the process.

Serving the Complaint

After filing for divorce in Arkansas, the next step is serving the complaint to your spouse. Serving the complaint means formally notifying your spouse that you have filed for divorce and providing them with a copy of the complaint. This step can be completed in person or by mail.

In Person

One option for serving the complaint is to have a sheriff’s deputy or a private process server hand-deliver the complaint to your spouse. This can be done at home or at work, but it is important to ensure that your spouse receives the complaint personally. The person serving the complaint will then complete a proof of service form to be filed with the court.

By Mail

If your spouse is willing to accept service by mail, you can send a copy of the complaint and a waiver of service form. Your spouse will need to sign and return the waiver of service form to confirm that they have received the complaint and accept the divorce proceedings.

If your spouse is unwilling to accept service by mail or in person, you may need to file a motion with the court to request permission to serve the complaint by publication. This means that the complaint will be published in a newspaper in your area, and your spouse will have a designated amount of time to respond before further action is taken.

It is important to keep in mind that proper service of the complaint is crucial to the divorce process. If your spouse does not receive a copy of the complaint through proper service, the court may not be able to proceed with the divorce proceedings.

In summary, serving the complaint is a necessary step in the divorce process in Arkansas. You can choose to have the complaint served in person by a sheriff’s deputy or private process server, or by mail with a waiver of service form. If necessary, you may need to file a motion to serve the complaint by publication. Proper service is essential to ensure the divorce proceedings can move forward.

Response of the Spouse

The response of the spouse to a divorce filing is a critical aspect of the process. The non-filing spouse must answer the complaint and enter their response within 30 days of being served with the legal documents. The response can either be an agreement or a denial of the allegations declared in the complaint. If the respondent disagrees with some or all of the assertions made by the filing spouse, they must provide reasons for their disagreement in their response.

There are several options available to the non-filing spouse when responding to the divorce complaint. They can agree with all the terms set out in the petition, including child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division. Alternatively, the respondent can file a counterclaim within 20 days of filing their response to the divorce complaint. A counterclaim is a way for the non-filing spouse to state their own grounds for divorce and request the same relief that the filing spouse has requested. Basically, it’s their way of initiating their own legal claim against their spouse.

If the non-filing spouse fails to file any response documents within 30 days, they risk being declared in default, and the filing spouse can proceed with the divorce without their participation. This can result in the respondent losing some of their legal rights in the divorce proceedings, particularly in matters of child custody, child support, and property division.

In summary, it’s important for the non-filing spouse to respond promptly and accurately to a divorce complaint. The response can either be an agreement or a counterclaim, but it must be filed within the specified time frame. Failure to respond can result in the respondent losing legal rights in the divorce proceedings.

Discovery and Settlement

Once the divorce process is initiated in Arkansas, the parties to the divorce (or their respective attorneys) must go through a discovery phase. The discovery phase involves gathering information about the marital estate, including assets and debts. This information will be used to determine an equitable division of assets and debts between the parties.

Discovery can take several forms, including:

  • Interrogatories: written questions that the opposing party must answer under oath
  • Request for Production of Documents: a request for documents such as bank statements, tax returns, and other financial records
  • Depositions: sworn testimony given under oath in response to questioning from an attorney

Once discovery is complete, the parties will attend a settlement conference with a judge or a mediator. The goal of the settlement conference is to reach an agreement on the issues surrounding the divorce, including property division, spousal support, and child custody.

If the parties are unable to reach an agreement during the settlement conference, the case will proceed to trial and a judge will decide the outcome based on the evidence presented.

It’s important to have an experienced attorney to guide you through the discovery and settlement process. A knowledgeable attorney can help you gather the necessary information and negotiate a settlement that is fair to both parties.

Mediation and Negotiation

In Arkansas, before getting a divorce, it is mandatory to attend mediation and negotiation sessions. This is intended to encourage the parties to work together to reach an agreement outside of the court system. Mediation is a process where an independent third party works with the parties to help them reach an agreement. The mediator does not represent either party and does not provide legal advice. Rather, they help the parties have meaningful discussions and find common ground.

Negotiation is similar to mediation, but without a third party. The parties work together to negotiate and come to an agreement on their own. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement through mediation or negotiation, they will proceed to court.

Reasons for mediation and negotiation include the cost and time savings of avoiding court proceedings, the potential for a more amicable and cooperative resolution, and the ability to tailor the outcome to the parties’ specific needs and circumstances.

It is important to note that if there are issues involving domestic violence, mediation may not be appropriate, and a judge may need to get involved immediately to protect the parties involved. Additionally, some issues are not suitable for mediation or negotiation and may need to be settled by a judge in court.

In Arkansas, the mediation and negotiation process is required before filing for divorce, but it may also be helpful for resolving post-divorce disputes or custody issues. It is always recommended to consult with a family law attorney to determine the best course of action for your specific situation.

Finalizing A Divorce In Arkansas

Once you have successfully completed the steps of filing for divorce in Arkansas, the next and final step is to finalize the divorce. This can happen in one of two ways: by obtaining a default judgement or by appearing in court.

If your spouse does not respond to your divorce petition within the allotted time, you can file for a default judgement. This means that you will get everything you asked for in your divorce petition, including property, assets, and child custody arrangements. However, if your spouse does respond within the allotted time, you may need to go to court to settle any disputes.

If you and your spouse do need to appear in court, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, arrive early and dress appropriately. Second, be respectful to the judge and everyone else in the courtroom. Third, be prepared to answer any questions the judge may ask about your divorce petition.

Once all issues have been resolved and both parties agree on the terms of the divorce, the judge will sign the Final Decree of Divorce. This is a legal document that makes the divorce official and final.

After the judge signs the Final Decree of Divorce, you will need to file it with the court clerk. Make sure to keep a copy of the document for your records.

In conclusion, finalizing a divorce in Arkansas can either happen by obtaining a default judgement or by appearing in court. It’s important to be prepared and respectful during any court appearances and to file the Final Decree of Divorce once it has been signed by the judge.

Child Custody

In Arkansas, child custody and support are commonly the most difficult and emotional aspects of a divorce. When seeking a divorce, it is essential to understand Arkansas’ child custody laws, and the different types of custody arrangements available to you. It’s also essential to be familiar with the child support process, including how it is calculated and enforced.

Types of Child Custody in Arkansas

In Arkansas, child custody is granted based on the child’s best interest. There are two types of child custody: physical and legal custody. Physical custody refers to the parent with whom the child lives. Legal custody refers to the parent who makes important decisions for the child.

In cases where parents can agree on custody arrangements, the court generally will approve their agreed-upon terms as long as the agreement is in the child’s best interest. However, when parents cannot agree, the court must step in and make the decision for them. The court will examine many factors, including:

  • The child‚Äôs age and health
  • The living arrangements of the parents
  • The parents’ physical and emotional health
  • The wishes of the child, if they are of an appropriate age and maturity level
  • The relationship of the child with each parent
  • The ability of each parent to provide for the child‚Äôs emotional, physical, and educational needs

Child Support in Arkansas

Arkansas uses an income shares model to determine child support. This means that both parents’ salaries are considered when calculating child support, and the amount of child support required is based on the estimated cost of raising the child.

The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) determines child support using guidelines that take into account each parent’s income, residential expenses, and medical expenses. Once the court has determined the amount of support, the paying parent is required by law to make payments regularly. Failure to do so can result in penalties, such as wage garnishment or even jail time.


Divorce can be a difficult and emotional process, but understanding the steps to getting divorced in Arkansas can help make the process easier to manage. In summary, the steps to getting divorced in Arkansas are:

  • Filing for divorce by submitting a complaint and paying a filing fee
  • Serving a copy of the complaint to your spouse
  • Waiting 30 days for your spouse to respond
  • Participating in negotiations and mediations to reach a settlement agreement
  • Filing a request for a hearing if a settlement agreement can’t be reached
  • Completing financial disclosure forms and gathering other necessary documentation
  • Attending the final hearing and presenting evidence to the judge
  • Receiving a final judgment and decree of divorce

It’s important to note that divorce proceedings can vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case and working with a qualified divorce attorney can help ensure that your interests are protected throughout the process. While this may be a difficult time, remember that there is support available to you and that taking each step of the process one at a time can help make it feel more manageable.

If you’re considering divorce or in the process of filing, it’s essential to stay organized and informed of the requirements in Arkansas. Keep this guide as a reference and don’t hesitate to seek legal help if necessary. By understanding the steps and requirements, you can navigate the process with more confidence and ease.

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