At The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas LLP, we understand the gravity of family law issues. For most clients, these concerns aren’t just legal in nature; they have the ability to disrupt familial and co-parenting relationships for years to come. That’s why we consider the complex emotional aspects of family law while advising our clients. Rather than immediately taking an adversarial position, our team of Arkansas family law attorneys focuses on minimizing conflict and encouraging mutually beneficial solutions in all your family law matters.
Learn more about how our law firm can address your family’s needs, and contact us to discuss your next step.
Divorce in the State of Arkansas
Divorce can be an overwhelming process for many Arkansans, no matter who initiates it or what triggers the decision to separate. The way you handle divorce will likely affect your relationship with your children, the strength of your co-parenting relationship, and your financial well-being.
There are many issues to explore when a couple decides to divorce. Our team will help you navigate each one in a respectful and fair manner, knowing that many of these decisions can be mentally and emotionally challenging. You and your ex-partner will need to decide how to split debt and assets, how to share custody of your children, and how much financial support will be provided for childcare or alimony. Short-term, you must decide who will remain in the marital home, set up a temporary custody schedule, and ensure that all marital debts are paid in a timely manner.
We know that divorce is painful enough without dragging the process out indefinitely. We strive to file promptly, provide all necessary evidence, and work through issues in an efficient manner that aligns with your goals and needs.
We understand that not every divorce can be conducted in a peaceful and amiable manner. If your spouse is unwilling to negotiate and you fear losing custody of your children or giving up all of your assets, your Fayetteville family law attorney will fight aggressively on your behalf to protect your rights.
If you need help enforcing the terms of your divorce or revisiting your terms down the road, we’re here to help. Change is the only constant, and your divorce terms should be able to change with you at each stage of life.
Alimony and Child Support
Financial issues are a contentious part of many divorce cases, and they are further complicated by a number of factors. Spousal support is awarded in some divorces, particularly those in which one spouse passes on career or educational opportunities to support the other spouse’s career, becomes a homemaker, or serves as primary caretaker of the children. The amount of alimony awarded and the duration of alimony payments is determined by the length of the marriage, each party’s earning capacity, how long it would take both parties to become financially independent, and a variety of other factors.
Child support is also influenced by several different factors. While the Arkansas child support guidelines gives a rough idea of an individual’s monthly payment, required payments could be more or less, based on a child’s activities and tuition expenses, medical needs, and other expenses. The final amount is also based on the division of parenting time and each parent’s earning ability.
Whether you are expecting to pay or receive financial support, we are ready to advocate on your behalf and ensure that you are treated fairly by the family court system.
Custody and Visitation
The same standard is used in splitting debts. The court’s role is to divide debt fairly and equitably between divorcing spouses, based on who benefits primarily from the debt, who has the ability to repay, and who wants to maintain any secured assets linked to the debt.
In many cases, the court does not actually have to decide how to divide assets and debt. If the divorcing individuals come to an agreement regarding the division of property and debt, they can file their agreement with the court. It becomes legally enforceable when the court signs off on it.
Modifications and Enforcement
As both parties move through life, it’s likely that what they need from their divorce decree will change. If you are required to pay child support based on your current income but take a 10% pay cut the next year, you’ll likely need a decree modification to accommodate your new earning level. The same is true for a significant increase in earnings. Custody agreements are also a common reason for a divorce modification. If one parents moves away or the children reach an age where they can decide who they want to live with, a modification ensures that all custody changes are legal and enforceable.
Our team can also be of assistance if the other party does not comply with a court order. As an example, some divorcing couples agree to refinance the marital home in one person’s name within a certain time frame after the divorce is finalized. They might also agree to put the home on the market by a specific deadline. If the party ordered to refinance has not taken the necessary steps to do so by the deadline, or if the party living in the home has not prepared it to go on the market by the deadline, the other individual may need to get the court system involved. Those who fail to follow a court order can be held in contempt of court and be forced to comply.
Whether you are considering an out-of-state move with your children or your ex-partner wants to move with them, it is important to seek legal advice from a Fayetteville family law attorney.
Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreement
A prenuptial agreement is one way to protect both parties’ separate assets in the case of a divorce. We understand the complicated emotions and myths that surround prenuptial agreements, so we approach this situation respectfully and in a way that meets your needs. There are certain circumstances in which a prenuptial agreement is highly recommended. If you own all or part of a business, a prenuptial agreement protects the business from becoming marital property during the course of the marriage. It is also a useful tool if one party has received or will receive an inheritance. If either individual has children from a previous marriage, a prenuptial agreement is one way to ensure that assets are distributed fairly between the current spouse, the children from the current marriage, and the children from the previous marriage. Prenuptial agreements require that both sides disclose all of their property and all of their debts, and that sufficient time is given for each person to review the agreement and to consult with an attorney prior to signing.
Postnuptial agreements are similar to prenuptial agreements in their goals but differ in their execution. They are drawn up after a couple has already entered into a marriage. You may use a postnuptial agreement to waive rights to your spouse’s property or to divide property in a certain way following death or divorce. They are often used as a part of estate planning. Postnuptial agreements have to meet strict requirements to be legally enforceable, so it is essential to work with a trusted family law attorney.
Adoption is an exciting and meaningful way to expand your family, whether you are adopting as a step-parent, grandparent, other family member, or non-family member. Step-parent adoptions typically occur when one parent does not support the child or maintain meaningful contact with the child, allowing a step-parent to take on a parental role. This can also happen if both parents agree to the step-parent adoption.
Non-family adoptions require a substantial amount of documentation. Parents interested in adopting must undergo a background check and home study before being approved to adopt. Requirements vary, depending on where the child is from, so it is crucial to work with an attorney with extensive experience in adoption cases. We know the common pitfalls that can hold up an adoption case and how to avoid them, and we are ready to guide you through this process so you can bring a child into your family.
An Overview of Divorce and Family Court in Arkansas
Moving through the family court system can be emotionally draining and mentally demanding, but knowing what to expect during the process can help you feel prepared and confident.
As you begin your divorce case, note that Arkansas law requires spouses to live apart for 18 months without reconciliation prior to receiving a no-fault divorce. A divorce may be granted earlier if one party can prove fault. Grounds for divorce due to the fault of one spouse in Arkansas include general indignities, habitual drunkenness, committing a felony, and adultery. At least one party must have lived in the state for the full 60 days prior to the filing and for three months prior to the finalization of the divorce.
After the initial filing, most negotiations and decisions happen outside the courtroom. There is a common misconception that all divorces occur during explosive courtroom battles, but the fact is, most couples are able to come to an agreement on most issues during mediation and negotiation. This is beneficial for both parties. Asking the court to decide on issues of debt allocation, property division, and child custody means that both parties must spend more on legal fees and risk the judge ruling against them. The majority of couples would rather reach a mutually beneficial agreement outside of court and preserve the co-parenting relationship.
Throughout this process, you’ll get regular updates from your Fayetteville family law lawyer at The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas LLP. Through our meetings, we will develop an understanding of what you hope to get from the divorce, what you are willing to compromise on, and what is non-negotiable. As we communicate with your ex-partner’s legal team, we will act in your best interests and keep you informed of your options at all times. You can trust us to give you our informed opinion every step of the way.
If the involved parties come to an agreement on the divorce, paperwork documenting this agreement will be filed with the court. The judge must sign off on the agreement. Depending on the circumstances of the divorce and what is included in the agreement, the judge might require a hearing or they might sign off on the agreement and grant the divorce without a formal hearing. Note that it is not enough for both parties to agree; if the judge feels that the distribution of debts and assets is inequitable, they can reject the agreement in part or in whole.
If the parties do not come to an agreement, a court date will be set. Both sides will have the chance to make their case on each issue of the divorce. The judge will examine all available evidence through the lens of Arkansas family law and decide on the terms of the divorce. This process can be lengthy if neither side is willing to compromise. Once this process is complete, the judge grants the divorce.
Family law issues outside divorce follow the same general pattern. One party files the appropriate paperwork and has the other party served. The parties may come to an agreement on issues before their scheduled court date, and if the judge signs off on their agreement, court may not be necessary.
Reach Out to The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas LLP Today
The decisions you make about your divorce, the custody of your children, and division of your assets can affect you for the rest of your life. Make sure you hire an Arkansas family law attorney you can trust completely.
Our team at The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas LLP, is dedicated to practicing law the right way and providing our clients the support they need during difficult times. We have a wide array of practice areas. Whether your legal issues involve a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement drafted, help beginning the divorce process, or assistance with another family law issue, we are here to help. Schedule your consultation now by calling us at (479) 316-3760 or filling out our online contact form.