In Arkansas, as in most places, marriage is a contract that the parties can’t agree to break themselves. Once you and your spouse agree to get married, you also agree that a circuit judge will have to be consulted in order to get out of it. In this way, marriage is unlike other contracts. For historical and practical reasons, we have decided that marriage is a cultural institution that needs protection even from the married couple themselves. Marriage, after all, can be quite challenging, and fewer marriages would endure if dissolving them were as easy as switching phone companies. Thus, if you want to dissolve your marriage agreement, you have to go to court – no ifs, ands or buts about it. This is especially true if your marriage is a covenant marriage, which you can read about here.
Divorce actions are begun like other civil lawsuits – by filing a complaint and serving it with a summons on the defendant. It is important to remember that the divorce action is a lawsuit, just like any other. The person filing the lawsuit has to establish certain facts, or the divorce cannot be granted. In addition to proving residence in Arkansas for an adequate period of time, the filing party must show the court that they have grounds for getting divorced. In other words, they have to show the court that there is a good reason to terminate their marriage contract. Click here to learn about the different grounds for divorce in Arkansas. The most common grounds for divorce is called “general indignities,” which means exactly what you think. In my experience, courts don’t dig in too deep to the grounds question. Don’t get me wrong – you have to prove your case. But if you can testify that the state of the marital relationship is bad enough that you can no longer endure it, the court will usually grant you the divorce.
In Arkansas, we don’t have “no fault” divorce, meaning that a plaintiff must have grounds for divorce. However, if you can’t prove general indignities or some other basis for divorce, then you can simply file a suit for separate maintenance which doesn’t require that grounds be proven. This will allow you to establish a separate residence for yourself which, if it is maintained for at least 18 months, will entitle you to a divorce on the grounds of eighteen months continuous separation.
Getting the divorce is the easy part. Figuring out what to do about minor children, child support, property division and alimony is the hard part.
Click on the links to learn about each of those issues.
As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to call on me. I can be reached at the office at 501-222-7378, or on my cell at 501-519-0186, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks again for reading!