Arkansas Divorce Laws

The decision to file for divorce is never easy. In Arkansas, understanding the laws will help you as you begin this emotional process.

Who Can File for Divorce and on What Grounds

Arkansas divorce laws allow both fault and no-fault divorce. In the case of no-fault divorce, the courts will grant it if the couple has lived separate and apart for 18 continuous months, provided the separation was voluntary on the part of one party, occurred by mutual consent, or occurred because of the fault of either party. Fault divorce is offered on the following grounds:

  • Impotency
  • Conviction of a felony or crime
  • Addiction to alcohol for one year
  • Cruel or barbarous treatment that endangers the life or well-being of the other spouse
  • Indignities that make the conditions intolerable to the other spouse
  • Adultery

The laws also require a 60-day residency requirement. Couples must wait 3 months after filing before the divorce will be finalized. Those who are in the military may need to follow the military family law for divorces. To ensure that the proper procedures are followed, military families are encouraged to seek the services of a family lawyer with experience in military divorce law.

Division of Property

Arkansas follows the “equitable distribution” model for dividing property. This means that property is divided based on what is fair, not what is equal. If the parties cannot reach a settlement about their properties or debts, the courts will step in. In most instances, the property will be divided in half, unless the courts find this to be inequitable, in which instances the following factors will be considered:

  • The age, health, and stage of life of both individuals
  • The length of the marriage
  • Employment status and occupation
  • Amount of income and sources of potential income.
  • Job skills and employability
  • Estate, needs, and liabilities of each individual
  • Each individual’s contribution to the acquisition, preservation, and appreciation of joint property, without excluding the contributions of a homemaker
  • Federal income tax consequences of the division of property

Child Custody

The goal in determining child custody is to avoid any unnecessary trauma and stress for the child. The courts will allow parents to work out a custody arrangement, but when they cannot do so successfully, they will step in and make a decision considering the following factors:

  • Preferences of the child, if the child is determined to be of sufficient age to have such preferences.
  • Past convictions of domestic violence.
  • Past and future roles of the parents

The custody determination will not be made based on the sex of a parent. Whenever possible, a joint custody arrangement will be considered.

In a few instances a child’s grandparent can have a say in the custody case. This can occur when the child is under a year old, the grandparent had custody of child for at least six consecutive months, serving as the primary caregiver and supporter during that time, and this period of custody occurred within a year before the date the custody proceedings began.


Child support in the state of Arkansas is determined based on the Percentage of Income Formula. This calculates support based on a percent of the non-custodial parent’s income based on the number of children requiring support. Not all cases will result in spousal support, and both parties must agree to it, except in rare cases wherein the courts require it without the agreement of one spouse. This decision is left entirely up to the courts. Spousal support ends when the supported spouse remarries or enters into a relationship that produces a child.