It’s possible to do your own divorce in Arkansas.
As with most jurisdictions, if you wish to get a do-it-yourself divorce (i.e. a divorce without an attorney), you and your spouse must agree on all the terms of your divorce.
What does this mean?
You must agree on property division and child custody issues. Even if you agree on most issues, but one or two matters are outstanding, then you must have them resolved before filing your divorce documents.
The reason for this is the divorce order will set out the terms of the divorce – generally referring to agreements, such as a marital separation agreement that sets out the terms of your divorce.
What if You and Your Spouse Don’t Agree on All Issues?
You and your spouse can hire a mediator. With a mediator you sit down – perhaps one time or several times – and negotiate agreement with the aid and guidance of the mediator. This approach works often – hence it’s a very common step in the process. Moreover, courts encourage mediation before litigation.
If mediation doesn’t work, then you and your spouse will have to bring your unresolved issues to the court. Sometimes, when spouses hire lawyers, the lawyers can successfully negotiate an agreement before trial. Of course, a divorce lawyer can only negotiate terms which you agree on.
For example, suppose your spouse is unrelenting on an issue which is contrary to the law generally. I could well happen that your spouse’s lawyer will explain the law and probable outcome which may persuade your spouse to relax his/her position.
The fact is there are many opportunities along the way to a trial for coming to agreement.
What If You Do Agree On All Issues?
Then it is not necessary to hire a mediator or lawyer. You or your spouse can prepare the divorce documents yourself. Or, if you wish to avoid the hassle of figuring out all the documents, you can hire an online divorce service to prepare those documents for you.
Of course you can also hire an attorney to complete the divorce documents for you as well.
Residency Requirements for an Arkansas Divorce
In order to get a divorce in Arkansas you OR your spouse must be resident in Arkansas for 60 days and reside 3 months in AR before the divorce order is issued.
Grounds for a Divorce in Arkansas
You can file for divorce on both fault and no-fault grounds.
Some fault grounds include:
- conviction of a felony;
- drunkenness and/or other “cruel and barbarous treatment”.
Some no-fault grounds include:
- being separated for 18 months;
- living apart for 3 years.
How is Child Custody Determined in Arkansas?
A Court awards child custody by determining what is in the best interest of the child without special regard to the gender of the parent. This means a mother is not favored. Instead, the court wants to be assured that child/ren will have frequent contact with both parents (barring any child abuse and/or substance abuse issues).
Does the Non-Custodial Parent Need to Pay Child Support?
Yes. Child support is determined by set out child support guidelines. Like many other states and provinces, the amount is determined from the pre-tax incomes of both parents and child-care expenses.
The quickest and easiest way to get a divorce in Arkansas is by coming to full agreement with your spouse on all the issues. Unless the terms are contrary to the law, you can prepare the documents yourself or hire an inexpensive divorce service to prepare the documents for you.
Alternatively, you can hire a lawyer to prepare the documents for you.