Things are not working, and you have decided it is time to end your relationship. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as one day deciding to file for divorce. You must first meet certain requirements, and take a number of steps before finalizing your divorce.
If you have decided that you want a divorce in Arkansas, then here is how to get started.
Hire a divorce lawyer
The first step when getting a divorce should be to obtain clear, comprehensive information about the law. You and your spouse can make whatever decisions you think are best for you and your family, but those decisions need to be properly informed decisions. Hiring an attorney and getting as much advice about your legal situation as possible is the best way to achieve this.
Before meeting with an attorney, you need to decide what attorney you want to talk to separately from your spouse. Here you should consider attorney cost and attorney experience.
Prior to meeting with the attorney, you should also gather certain documents they will likely need. These include copies of your bank statements showing the current balances in all of your bank accounts, as well as any pension, IRA, or other investment accounts you might have. It also includes your credit card statements, tax returns, and pay stubs for the last six months and, if you have access to them, your spouse’s pay stubs as well.
Essentially, you want to have an idea of what you want out of the divorce. Keep in mind, however, the attorney may suggest things that you have not considered. So be responsive to what they have to say. On the other hand, a good attorney will also let you know if you are being unrealistic or if what you want is unattainable.
Confirm your eligibility
To be eligible for divorce in Arkansas, you must have lived in the state for at least 60 days before filing a divorce complaint. Then you must wait at least another 30 days before the divorce can be finalized.
Grounds for divorce in Arkansas
Arkansas is a fault divorce state. This means you must have grounds for divorce and that you must cite at least one thing that warrants you being granted a divorce.
The most commonly used grounds for divorce in Arkansas are called “general indignities.” This means that things with your spouse have gotten so bad that it has rendered your marriage intolerable. The second most commonly used grounds for divorce in Arkansas is 18 months of continuous separation.
Other grounds for divorce in Arkansas include impotence, a felony conviction, drunkenness, cruel and inhuman treatment, humiliation, adultery, incurable insanity, lack of support.
How to file for divorce
There are several ways to proceed once you have determined your eligibility and grounds for divorce. The way in which you proceed will depend on your circumstances.
Once circumstance is if you have no children and few assets, you and your spouse can agree as to how your assets and liabilities will be divided, and one of you should employ an attorney to prepare the various documents. Another circumstance is if you cannot agree, then both of you should employ your own separate attorneys to represent you, because the same attorney cannot represent both sides. Likewise, if you have children or significant assets, then both you and your spouse need to employ your own separate attorneys.
You officially start the divorce process when you file a “divorce complaint” with the circuit court in the county where you or your spouse live. If you and your spouse have been separated for a period of time, then there may be questions as to which county will have jurisdiction. However, this is something you can discuss with your lawyer at the initial consultation.
The divorce complaint identifies the parties in the divorce, where you live, when you were married, if there are any children under age eighteen involved, when you separated, the grounds for the divorce, and a general statement of your assets.
You file the complaint with the court along with several documents relating to your finances. Once the complaint is filed, a restraining order prevents either party from selling, transferring, or encumbering your assets except in the ordinary course of business. This prevents whomever is in control of your assets from manipulating them to his or her advantage.
Once you have filed a complaint, you must formally inform your spouse by providing them with a copy of your divorce complaint. There are two ways to do this: by certified mail or through an appointed process server.
After receiving a copy of the divorce complaint by certified mail or by “service,” your spouse has thirty days to file an “answer.”
The answer admits or denies the allegations of the complaint and will often include a “counterclaim,” which means the divorce will be contested. However, if your spouse does not respond, then you may be granted a divorce by default.
If you are contemplating divorce in Arkansas, then you will need a team of lawyers who are dedicated to your personal outcomes and will work hard to get you what you deserve. The central Arkansas family law firm of Mann & Kemp fits both of those requirements. To find out how we can help, contact us at (501) 222-4730 to schedule an appointment with one of our professionals.