General information about divorce in Arkansas.
- What are the residency requirements to file for divorce in Arkansas?
- What are the reasons (grounds) for divorce in Arkansas from a traditional marriage?
- Can I get alimony? What factors will a judge consider?
- What are the basic steps for filing for divorce?
- Where can I find additional information about divorce in Arkansas?
What are the residency requirements to file for divorce in Arkansas?
To file for divorce in Arkansas, you or your spouse must have been a resident of Arkansas for at least 60 days before filing for the divorce and 3 full months before the final judgment granting the divorce.*
No divorce will be granted until at least 30 days have passed from filing for the divorce.**
* Ark. Code § 9-12-307(a)(1)(A)
** Ark. Code § 9-12-307(a)(1)(B)
What are the reasons (grounds) for divorce in Arkansas from a traditional marriage?
The reason for a divorce is called the ground for divorce. There are 9 reasons for which a judge can grant you a divorce from a marriage in Arkansas.
Basically, this means that it was no one’s fault in particular that the marriage fell apart but that the reason for creating that union no longer exists. There is 1 no-fault ground for divorce in Arkansas:
- Separation - You and your spouse have lived separately for a continuous period of 18 months or more.*
In this type of divorce, a person may be able to allege that one spouse was the one responsible for, or at fault for, the breakdown of the marriage. There are 8 fault-based grounds for divorce in Arkansas. Any of these grounds must have happened in the 5 years prior to filing for the divorce and they have to happen in Arkansas. If the reason for filing for divorce happened in another state, it still needs to be a reason recognized by Arkansas law (one of the reasons listed below.)** The fault-based grounds for divorce in Arkansas are:
- Impotence - Your spouse was impotent at the time of the marriage and continues to be impotent;
- Felony conviction - Your spouse is convicted of a felony or other “infamous crime;”
- Drunkenness - Your spouse has a habit of getting drunk continually during a one-year period or a longer period of time;
- Cruel and inhuman treatment – Your spouse behaves in a way that is so cruel that it’s endangering your life;
- Humiliation – Your spouse humiliates you to the point that it makes your life extremely difficult;
- Adultery - Your spouse cheats on you after the marriage;
- Incurable insanity - When you and your spouse have lived separately for 3 years because s/he is incurably insane and has been committed to a mental institution for 3 years or more before the filing for divorce; or
- Lack of support - When your spouse is legally obligated to support you and has the ability to do so but s/he doesn’t.*
Note: Arkansas is one of a handful of states that allow covenant marriages aside from the traditional marriage. This is a different type of marriage in which, among other things, the couple agrees to counseling before the marriage and to more limited grounds for a divorce if they decide to get one in the future. If this is your case, you can find more information on the divorce process in this pamphlet from Arkansas Legal Services and you can also read the related statute on our AR Statutes page.
* Ark. Code § 9-12-301(b)
** Ark. Code § 9-12-307(2),(3)
Can I get alimony? What factors will a judge consider?
Alimony, also called spousal support, is financial support paid by, or to, your spouse. Alimony in Arkansas may be indefinite (permanent) or it can be rehabilitative (temporary). If the judge thinks it’s appropriate, s/he will order a reasonable alimony amount based upon the circumstances of you and your spouse and the nature of the case.*
Once an alimony order has been granted, if either party wants to change it in the future, either party may petition the court for a review and modification based upon a significant change of circumstances.*
* Ark. Code § 9-12-312
What are the basic steps for filing for divorce?
While divorce laws vary by state, here are the basic steps:
- First, you must meet the residency requirements of the state in which you wish to file.
- Second, you must have “grounds” (a legally acceptable reason) to end your marriage.
- Third, you must file divorce papers and have copies sent to your spouse.
- Fourth, if your spouse disagrees with anything in the divorce papers, he will then have the opportunity to file papers telling his side. This is called “contesting the divorce.” In this case, you will have to attend a series of court appearances to sort the issues out. If your spouse does not disagree with anything, he should sign the papers and send them back to you and/or the court. This is called an “uncontested divorce.” If a certain period of time passes and your spouse does not sign the papers or file any papers of his/her own, you may be able to proceed with the divorce as an uncontested divorce anyway. You should speak to a lawyer in your state about how long you have to wait to see if your spouse answers the divorce papers before you can continue with the divorce.
- Fifth, if there is property that you need divided, or if you need financial support from your spouse, you will have to work that out in an out-of-court settlement, or in a series of court hearings. Custody may also be decided as part of your divorce.
Where can I find additional information about divorce in Arkansas?
The Arkansas Legal Services Partnership has a lot of divorce resources, including:
- a divorce fact sheet, which includes an explanation of the divorce process in Arkansas;
- information on the grounds and residency requirements for divorce in Arkansas, along with links that may be helpful for you if you also would like information on separation and annulment; and
- interactive self-help divorce forms.
WomensLaw.org is unrelated to the above organizations and cannot vouch for the accuracy of their sites. We provide these links for your information only.