Divorce is a personal matter. It can be done with or without the professional services of a lawyer — the decision is yours. However, in this article, we will discuss filing for divorce in Arkansas without a lawyer, including the requirements that must be met.
A Divorce Process Without an Attorney in Arkansas
Let’s first define when a DIY divorce would be the best solution. A do-it-yourself divorce is a type of divorce in which the spouses act on their own behalf without the help of lawyers. Such a divorce is usually closely related to an uncontested divorce, although these are not synonymous.
In an uncontested divorce, the spouses agree in advance on all issues related to the termination of the marriage. This refers to child custody, alimony (spousal support), property division, etc. The couple signs a Settlement Agreement in which all these points are spelled out.
Since uncontested divorce is the fastest and most peaceful type of divorce, it usually complements a no-fault divorce. That is one in which the spouses do not blame each other for the end of their union. Instead, they peacefully agree on everything. In this case, the court makes a decision even without a court hearing since all the controversial points have already been written into the Agreement in advance.
On the contrary, a fault-based divorce assumes two sides — the petitioner and the respondent, the presentation and examination of evidence, and witness testimony. Therefore, you will need to hire an advocate to defend the rights of you and your children (if any).
Considering all of the above, a DIY divorce is the best option for an uncontested type. In this case, minimum effort is required from you. So, what are the requirements for getting a divorce in Arkansas?
Requirements for an Uncontested Divorce in Arkansas
To file for divorce in any state, you must meet the residence rules. They may vary slightly from state to state. In Arkansas, one of the spouses must have lived in the state for at least 60 days.
Moreover, you must prove to the court that you broke up. This can be done with a written statement from a third party confirming that you do not live together.
Grounds for Divorce in Arkansas
While a do-it-yourself divorce typically involves no-fault grounds, it doesn’t hurt to discuss all the legal grounds for divorce in Arkansas, including those that imply guilt. So:
No-fault grounds for divorce:
- The grounds for a no-fault divorce vary from state to state. Often irreconcilable differences are the cause. However, in Arkansas, you can divorce without fault if you prove to the court that the spouses are voluntarily living separately for 18 months.
Fault-based grounds for divorce:
- Spousal and/or child abuse;
- Regular drunkenness;
- Regular use of drugs;
- Mental illness that must have occurred for three consecutive years;
- A felony conviction of one of the partners;
- Refusal to support a dependent spouse;
- Personal humiliation (the spouse deliberately made the life of another unbearable).
So let’s take a closer look at each of the steps in the divorce process. First, we will discuss the standard steps for any divorce in Arkansas. However, depending on your specific situation, they may change — there may be more or less of them. But first things first.
Step 1: Prepare and File Your Divorce Papers
The first step is to prepare all the necessary paperwork. For an uncontested divorce, you need to file a “Complaint for Divorce” with the clerk’s office for the county court in which you live. If you do not reside in Arkansas, you file in the county where your spouse lives. In this form, you specify:
- Grounds for divorce;
- Which spouse has lived in Arkansas for at least 60 days;
- You and your spouse live separately, and the length of time you are separated.
Also, one of the benefits of an uncontested divorce is that you can contact an online divorce service. The essence of such divorce companies is that they help you generate the necessary forms for the dissolution of marriage based on your situation and the data you provide. It’s fast, affordable (definitely cheaper than lawyer services), and saves your nerves.
Step 2: Serve Your Spouse
In a fault-based divorce, the next step is “spouse service.” This means that you serve your ex-partner copies of the divorce forms. The spouse can accept the complaint themselves, or their attorney can do it for them if they agree. Upon receipt, your ex-partner must sign the “Entry of Appearance and Waiver of Service of Summons” form. You can find it at your county clerk’s office. Also, this form must be notarized.
If you have an uncontested divorce and file a divorce complaint in court together, you do not need to serve your ex-partner.
Step 3: Attend a Divorce Hearing
Often, you and your spouse do not even need to attend the hearing in an uncontested divorce. However, this step is vital in any other divorce process. If your spouse disagrees with you on any divorce issues, you will both need to appear in court to resolve all issues.
Arkansas law requires the court to wait at least 30 days after filing a complaint before scheduling a hearing. At the hearing, you must provide a witness to prove to the court that you or your spouse live in the state and no longer live together.
If you have signed an agreement at this point, you must provide it. The court will examine it and, after ensuring that you have fulfilled all the requirements for an uncontested divorce, will make an appropriate decision and sign the decree and divorce.
You can always avoid unnecessary stress by contacting an internet divorce platform. It will help you select the necessary papers, speeding up the process as a whole. Why waste time on this when you can spend it on something more enjoyable?