The state of Arkansas began issuing licenses for same-sex marriages following the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges on June 26, 2015. Before this landmark decision, same-sex unions were legally recognized for a week in May 2014. A gay divorce in Arkansas could also be obtained during that period. After the Obergefell ruling, all judges had to recognize any same-sex marriages and grant a same-sex divorce in Arkansas on equal conditions with different-sex spouses. For example, a common-law marriage is not recognized for any couples.
Divorce laws in Arkansas are the same for same-sex unions and heterosexual couples. The legal procedure is described in the Arkansas Code, Title 9 (Family Law). Only couples where one of the spouses meets the residency requirements (60 days of permanent residence before filing a complaint) can file for same-sex divorce in Arkansas.
Same-sex divorce online
Divorce over the Internet is an alternative way for same-sex couples to file for divorce in Arkansas without a lawyer. It is usually fast, easy, and relatively inexpensive because spouses do not have to hire an attorney. The do-it-yourself option is only available for couples with an uncontested divorce, which is when they agree on all critical issues such as alimony, property division, child custody, and support.
By using online resources, spouses can obtain the same-sex divorce paperwork in Arkansas that must be submitted to the local court. But only a judge can issue a final decree, so a married couple will have to attend at least one court hearing. One of the approved and reliable resources to get same-sex divorce papers in Arkansas is onlinearkansasdivorce.com. The website prepares and sends the clients necessary printable documents at an affordable price of $139.
Same-sex divorce papers in Arkansas
Same-sex divorce forms in Arkansas depend on the circumstances of each case and whether there are minor children. The mandatory way to start a divorce process is by filing a Complaint for Divorce, which must be accompanied by your personal information and notarized before submitting it with a local court. Next, you must serve your spouse with a copy of the Complaint and Summons, which is usually issued by the court.
Couples with no contested issues typically get their final decree much faster and less effort than those with serious disputes. So if your case is uncontested, you can prepare your papers by yourself. Otherwise, seek a qualified lawyer’s help. For more detailed information about how to file a same-sex divorce in Arkansas, inquire directly to the clerk’s office.
Valid grounds for same-sex divorce in Arkansas
A divorce process in Arkansas is the same for same-sex and different-sex couples. A spouse filing for divorce, called a plaintiff, must submit a complaint indicating a reason for separation. The majority of same-sex couples file for divorce in Arkansas on no-fault grounds. It is only possible if they live separately for 18 months without cohabitation. Fault-based grounds include the following (AR Code § 9-12-301):
Conviction of a felony;
Habitual drunkenness (for one year) or cruelty;
A person married to a same-sex spouse can get a divorce in Arkansas on the grounds of insanity if the insane spouse has been admitted to a specialized institution for treatment for three years before filing a complaint.
Also, spouses can only get a same-sex divorce if one of them meets residency requirements. Under Arkansas law, they need to live in the state for 60 days before the commencement.
Custody of the Child
When a couple has minor children, a court will determine the issue of child care, deciding where a child will live and who will take care of them in the future. Under the law, each parent has equal rights to child custody as long as their best interests are met (AR Code § 9-13-101). The court may consider the following factors:
- the preferences of a child;
- the relationship between a child and parents, sibling, grandparent;
- which party is more likely to support frequent communication with another parent;
- whether either of the parties was charged with child abuse or domestic violence.
The court may require that both parents attend a parenting class consisting of no less than two hours. During this training, parents learn which issues their children may face when adjusting to the new circumstances.
Both parents shall be ordered to support their children financially. The amount that a non-custodial parent must pay is determined based on the family support chart. It is a table that includes the parent’s monthly income and the number of children. If a judge decides that this chart’s implementation is unfair, they will deviate from the established criteria.
The payment amount starts from 15% for one child and ends with 32% for six children. The family support chart is revised at least once every four years. The obligation of paying child support will cease when a child reaches 18 years of age. However, the court may extend it if a child has a disability or is still in high school (AR Code § 9-12-312).
The court may order one spouse to pay support to the other party if there is a need for it, and its award is reasonable under the given circumstances. It can be awarded in installments for a fixed period for rehabilitation purposes. In this case, a recipient has to submit a rehabilitation plan for a review and help the court determine the duration and amount of alimony.
The liability for paying spousal support shall end upon the occurrence of one of the circumstances below (AR Code § 9-12-312):
- remarriage of a spouse receiving the alimony;
- living in a cohabiting relationship with another person;
- either spouse’s death;
- circumstances equivalent to remarriage when another person will be liable to pay support to the spouses receiving alimony.
Either spouse can apply for the modification of an alimony order at any time if their circumstances have significantly changed.
Property division can be a straightforward process if a couple agrees on the terms before commencing the action or has a prenuptial agreement with specific arrangements.
How is property divided in same-sex marriages with no agreement? First, all property must be enumerated and listed by type. Everything acquired after the wedding is marital property and will be distributed equitably. Separate property, which includes inheritance, gifts, disability benefits, and other assets owned by each spouse before the marriage, will remain with the original owner.
In any divorce proceedings, a court will divide assets and debts precisely in half between the spouses. If such division is unfair, the court will consider the following relevant factors (AR Code § 9-12-315):
- the length of the marriage;
- age and health of the parties;
- occupation, vocational skills, employability;
- amount of income and needs of each party;
- tax consequences;
- the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition and preservation of marital property.
Mediation exists to help couples resolve all important issues in their divorce in a peaceful and productive environment. Typically, any Arkansas court may order such sessions for spouses with children to decide on custody and visitation. But couples can choose to negotiate other issues, including spousal and child support or property division.
Mediation is conducted by a trained third party who guides spouses through the process of reaching a settlement agreement. The sessions are confidential and non-binding. If you cannot agree with your spouse on some matters, you can go to a trial, and a judge will decide at his or her discretion.
Filing fees for same-sex divorce in Arkansas
The amount of filing fees depends on the local rules of each county. Payment for the complaint will cost you approximately $165, and the issuing of summons — $2.50. In case you cannot afford the filing fee, you can ask for its waiver by filing an In Forma Pauperis Petition. Along with this form, you have to complete a supporting affidavit with the required financial information. A judge must sign a petition and affidavit before you file for divorce in Arkansas to dissolve your same-sex marriage.
If you are contemplating how to serve your spouse, think of the following methods: a private server, a sheriff, and service by mail. All of them require additional expenses. If you are married to a same-sex spouse and want to get a divorce in Arkansas, but your spouse is out of state, you can serve them by publication. This type of serving means that a complaint and summons would be printed in a newspaper.
How long will it take
Divorce for same-sex couples in Arkansas can be granted no sooner than 30-days after the date of filing a complaint, the mandatory waiting period. The length of the divorce process depends on many factors, the main being the type of case (contested or uncontested). Amicable instances in which spouses agree on all issues are relatively quick and take 2-3 months, depending on the court’s workload. Couples that cannot resolve their disputes about property division or child custody must go through a divorce trial, which can take a year or more.