Filing for Divorce in Arkansas


Area of Law: 

To begin a divorce proceeding in Arkansas, file a complaint for divorce with your local court. The spouse filing the petition is the plaintiff, and the other spouse is the defendant. In Arkansas, at least one spouse must be a resident of the state for at least 60 days prior to filing for divorce. In addition, the plaintiff must file the complaint in the county where the plaintiff resides. After the plaintiff files the divorce petition, the plaintiff must provide a copy to the defendant. You can obtain a divorce form from the Arkansas Legal Partnership’s website to use if you do not have children with your spouse  

The plaintiff must state at least one reason for the divorce in the divorce complaint. Several grounds for divorce in Arkansas exist including cruel and barbarous treatment, adultery, general indignities or separation for 18 months or longer. The court charges a filing fee of $195 to file a divorce complaint in Arkansas. This plaintiff must pay the filing fee at the time the plaintiff submits the divorce complaint for filing. If you are unable to pay the filing fee, you can ask the court to waive the cost. If the judge decides that you qualify for assistance, then you do not have to pay for your divorce. After the divorce complaint is filed, it usually takes anywhere from one month to a year for the divorce to become final. The time it takes to finalize a divorce usually corresponds to the number of issues that must be resolved between the parties, including child custody and the division of the marital assets. If the divorce is uncontested, the spouses must wait a minimum of 30 days after filing the complaint for the divorce to become final. An uncontested divorce means that the spouses are in complete agreement about all aspects of the divorce.

One issue that may arise during the divorce is the division of marital assets. Marital assets are property jointly held by both spouses and acquired during the marriage. Marital property does not include separate property. Separate property is property belonging to one spouse, owned either prior to marriage or acquired by gift or bequest during the marriage. The Arkansas court follows equitable distribution when determining how to divide marital assets in a divorce. However, equitable distribution does not mean that the court will divide martial property equally. In reality, equitable distribution allows the court to divide marital property in the way the court views as being just. When dividing marital property, the court considers several factors including the length of the marriage, and the property’s current use. In addition, the court distributes all marital debts as well.   

If you and your spouse can agree about the division of the marital property, consider drafting a marital settlement agreement. However, agreeing on settlement terms is often the hardest part of a divorce proceeding. Therefore, the court may recommend both spouses attend mediation to try to resolve any contested issues.   

If you have additional questions regarding how to file for divorce, visit the Saline County’s website