Divorce is one of the toughest things a family can go through. Issues of child custody, support, property division, debt division and alimony are just a few of the things that people going through a divorce will face. You need a lawyer with the experience, skill and compassion to help you and your family through this difficult time.
Arkansas is not a "no-fault" divorce state. This means that you must have grounds for divorce. The law sets out those grounds that, if proven, would then allow a judge to grant someone a divorce. These include infidelity, abuse, one spouse commits a felony, habitual drunkenness or drug use, general indignities, and continuous separation for more than eighteen months. That being said, if one party decides not to contest the divorce, and doesn't require the other side to prove their grounds for divorce, then the parties may still be divorced without being required to present their evidence to the court.
Arkansas is what's known as a "marital property" state. This means the court can touch and divide any asset that is acquired during the course of the marriage. It is important to note here that the date of separation has no legal significance to your case in terms of division of assets or debts (see Division of Debts below).
There are a few exceptions to the marital property rule. The following may be acquired during the marriage, but may still be considered non-marital property, meaning that one spouse or the other may be able to take 100% of the property.
Typically, these are considered non-marital, and the spouse who owns them takes them as his or her separate property from the marriage. However, a spouse who owns such property may do something that changes separate property into marital property. For example, if one spouse received a $10,000 inheritance from his or her aunt, and they then deposited that money into the joint checking account for family bills, the judge would likely determine that that spouse "gifted" those funds to the marriage, thereby enabling the other spouse to claim his or her half at the time of divorce.
When it comes to dividing debts, the courts are instructed to divide things fairly. This is a distinction from assets, which are divided equally. A good example of a fair division of debts would be the way the court might handle a car loan. Typically, the party who takes the car would take the loan that goes with it. Another example would be a credit card debt or loan that one party incurred either after the separation, or before the separation and the debt was incurred for something that was not a part of the marriage – an expensive vacation, perhaps, for only one spouse, or an advance taken out for gambling. The judge generally has a lot of discretion when it comes to dividing up marital debts.
The judges will be the first to tell you that their job is not to divvy up all of the pots and the pans. Instead, if the parties are unable to reach an agreement about what to do with marital property, the court will order the property sold and the proceeds split between the parties. When this happens, the parties are required to sell their property at an estate sale, or at auction on the courthouse steps. As this is not an ideal situation, and as the parties stand to lose a substantial amount of money this way, it is in the parties' best interests to reach an agreement as to how best to divide the marital assets. This is often achieved in mediation, what can be attempted by the parties prior to their day in court.
There are many factors that take part in a judge's decision about whether to order one spouse to pay alimony to the other in a divorce case. Please click here to learn more about alimony/spousal support in Arkansas.
Often the biggest area of dispute in a divorce case relates to child custody and visitation. It is the most important aspect of a parent's divorce, and a quick resolution about the children can go a long way to coming frayed nerves and easing the parties' minds throughout a very difficult process. Please click here to learn more about child custody and visitation in a divorce case.
A divorce can be one of the most difficult times a family can face. You need a compassionate, intelligent, experienced lawyer to help get you through it. Rhoads & Armstrong can help. Please call 479-254-0135 for a confidential consultation. You can also reach us online via our form.