Arkansas Divorce Guide

Legal Separation

A legal separation is a court order Legal separationthat details who gets the children, who pays support for the children and how much, whether spousal support (alimony) is ordered, and who gets what marital property and debt. It is a procedure where a party to a marriage petitions the court to declare that a party wishes to live a separate life, and requires a Separation Agreement which resolves all issues surrounding the marriage except its status as a marriage. Resolved issues include custody of any minor child, financial support of child and/or the dependent spouse, and a plan for dividing the marital assets.

The separation (and divorce) procedure allows the parties to put together their own separation document and file it with the court. If they are unable to agree, the issues in dispute will be settled by the court.

Creating a separation document yourselves
  • If a submitted separation agreement is found to be UNFAIR as to the division of property or maintenance, the court can request the parties submit a revised separation agreement or make orders for the disposition of property or maintenance
  • If a submitted separation agreement is found to be FAIR as to disposition of property or maintenance, and that it is reasonable as to support, custody and parenting time of children, the court may incorporate the agreement in the decree for dissolution.

Applicants seeking a separation often do so for religious reasons (to avoid the stigma of divorce) or to preserve health care or insurance coverage. The status of legal separation makes the parties effectively single and able to separate any and all financial dealings from the other. Either may petition the court to convert the separation to a dissolution (divorce). How to file for separation is similar to how to file for divorce, in that the divorce papers are similar. To get it under way, see our divorce forms section, download a complete packet, then call your local county clerk’s office for directions on where to bring the completed forms.

Disposition of property

The court will assign separate property to the owner of that property, and then divide the community, joint tenancy and other property held in common equitably although not necessarily equally.

The courts may enforce the performance of written separation or divorce agreements or orders for alimony and maintenance by sequestration (freezing assets or forced sales) of the property of either property.

Residency Requirements

One spouse must have resided in Arkansas for at least six months immediately preceding a filing. On the condition that the residency requirement has been met by one spouse, either the resident or non-resident may file in Arkansas. Note that this is not the norm for all states. Most jurisdictions require proof of residency to file in that jurisdiction.

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