How to Get a No Fault Divorce in Arkansas
By Elizabeth Rayne, J.D.
In Arkansas, you do not need to place blame on either spouse in order to seek a divorce. Instead, the courts will dissolve the marriage so long as the couple has lived separately for at least 18 months. Generally, it is easier to obtain a divorce when you are not trying to assign guilt. Additionally, the process may be less complicated and quicker if the couple can agree to the terms of the divorce, instead of arguing before the court.
Grounds for Divorce
In Arkansas, a couple may seek a divorce based on the fault of either spouse or they may seek a "no fault" divorce, meaning that neither spouse takes responsibility for the breakup of the marriage. Arkansas courts will grant a divorce if a couple has been separated for at least 18 months; neither spouse needs to provide reasons for the separation nor prove that it was either spouse's fault. For a no-fault divorce, it does not matter if the couple agreed to live separately or if one person decided to leave. The separation may have been intentional or it may have been the result of other factors, such as job relocation.
Requirements for Divorce
In order to seek a divorce in Arkansas, you must meet the residency requirements and properly file a petition for divorce. Arkansas courts will grant a divorce only if at least one of the spouses has lived in the state for the last 90 days at the time of filing and the grounds for divorce occurred within the last five years. The divorce process begins with filling out a complaint for divorce and filing the complaint with the circuit court in your county. You must serve the complaint and summons on the other spouse and give your spouse the opportunity to respond to the allegations in the complaint.
Complaint and Settlement Agreements
When drafting the complaint, you must include verification that you meet the residency requirements and list the grounds for divorce. Once the divorce is filed, the couple may negotiate a settlement agreement instead of having the court decide the terms of the divorce. If the couple agrees to the grounds and the divorce settlement, including property division, spousal support and child custody and support, they may enter into a marital settlement agreement. The agreement will be submitted to the court for approval.
For an uncontested divorce, the couple must agree on the grounds for divorce and all the terms of the divorce. After the agreement is submitted to the court, the couple must wait 30 days before the divorce is finalized. The court will schedule a hearing, during which you must present a witness who can testify that you are a resident of the state, and that you and your spouse are living separately. Although the separation period must be at least 18 months, your witness only needs to testify that you have been separated for at least the last 90 days.
Elizabeth Rayne earned her J.D. from Penn State University and has been practicing law since 2009, advising clients on issues ranging from employment law to nonprofit management. For two years, she served as a contributing editor for the "Vermont Environmental Monitor."