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. They can disrupt familial and co-parenting relationships for years and the decisions that are made can be life-changing. That’s why we consider the complex emotional aspects of family law while advising our clients.
We don’t immediately take 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. Contact us to discuss your next step.
Divorce in the State of Arkansas
Divorce can be an overwhelming process for many Arkansans. The way you handle divorce will likely affect your relationship with your children 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 respectfully and fairly. We know that many of these decisions can be emotionally challenging.
You and your ex-partner will need to decide:
- How to split debt and assets;
- How to share custody of your children;
- How much financial support will be provided for child care;
- Whether or not alimony will be allocated; and
- Who will remain in the marital home.
We know that divorce is painful enough without dragging the process out. We strive to file promptly, provide all necessary evidence, and efficiently work through issues.
What If My Spouse and I Don’t Agree in a Divorce?
We understand that divorce is not always peaceful. In that case, 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 them, we’re here to help. Your divorce terms should be able to change with you at each stage of life.
Financial issues are a contentious part of many divorce cases. Several factors further complicate them.
Alimony or Spousal Support
The court awards spousal support in some divorces. Alimony might be appropriate if one spouse passed on a career or educational opportunities to support the other spouse’s goals. The amount of alimony awarded and the duration of payments is determined by many factors, including:
- The length of the marriage;
- Each party’s earning capacity; and
- How long it would take both parties to become financially independent.
Several different factors also influence child support. Arkansas child support guidelines give a rough idea of an individual’s monthly payment. However, required payments could be more or less, based on:
- A child’s activities;
- Tuition expenses;
- Medical needs;
- Division of parenting time; and
- Each parent’s earning ability.
Whether you are expecting to pay or receive financial support, we are ready to help you understand the process, advocate on your behalf, and ensure that you are treated fairly by the family court system.
Custody is often the most challenging part of a divorce. Some couples immediately agree to a fair co-parenting schedule that has the children’s best interests in mind. Others find themselves in a tug-of-war for primary or full custody. A custody battle can weaken both parents’ relationships with their children and make it challenging to establish a healthy co-parenting partnership.
With these facts in mind, our Arkansas family lawyers strive to find a custody agreement that meets both parents’ needs, while, most importantly, serving the best interests of the children. Our team of attorneys has worked with parents in a wide range of situations, including:
- Those who prefer one parent to take on a primary caretaker role;
- Those who are comfortable with a 50/50 split; or
- Those with atypical work schedules and commitments.
Child custody is an issue that requires intense negotiation, cooperation, and compromise. Our goal is to develop a comprehensive custody and visitation schedule that addresses common parenting concerns and situations that occur periodically or rarely.
For example, consider your children’s school schedule. Even if they are not in school yet, it is essential to address school year parenting needs and summertime needs. By looking at both parents’ work obligations and schedule flexibility, we can work together to ensure that your children are adequately cared for year-round. Our law office will also look at holidays, birthdays, and vacations while drawing up a custody schedule.
When a marriage ends, assets and debts must be distributed equitably. Equitable, in this case, is not always the same as “equal.” While the court may begin considering a 50/50 split of marital property, the division will likely change. Equitable distribution requires that both parties’ circumstances be evaluated.
Marital vs. Non-Marital Property
A substantial part of property division is determining what is marital property and what is separate property.
Non-marital property includes, for example, inherited assets, gifts made to only one spouse, credit cards in only one person’s name, and assets earned before marriage. Marital property may include real estate you both own together.
The court then determines what would be a fair distribution. Relevant factors include:
- Sources and amount of income;
- Each party’s ability to earn a living;
- The length of the marriage; and
- How much each individual contributed to the marital property.
The court must also divide debt fairly between divorcing spouses. They will consider who benefits from the debt, who can repay, and who wants to maintain any secured assets linked to the debt.
You Can Make an Agreement on Property Division
In many cases, the court does not have to decide how to divide assets and debt. You can agree on the property and debt division, and file the agreement with the court. It becomes legally enforceable when the court signs off on it.
Modifications and Enforcement
What if My Ex Doesn’t Comply With the Divorce Order?
Our team can also be of assistance if the other party does not comply with a court order. For example, some divorcing couples agree to refinance the marital home in one person’s name within a specific time frame after the divorce is finalized. They might also decide to put the house on the market by a particular deadline. If the party ordered to refinance has not taken the necessary steps to do so by the deadline, the other individual may need to get the court system involved. Similarly, if the house is not ready to put on the market, the court can intervene.
Those who fail to follow a court order can be held in contempt of court and be forced to comply.
Relocation is a relatively common issue in family law. If one parent wants or needs to relocate outside the agreed-upon area due to marriage or a career change, they must inform the court. In general, Arkansas courts uphold a custodial parent’s right to move with their minor children. If parents share custody, the situation becomes more complicated. A noncustodial parent can contest the move by showing that the move will cause harm to the child in question.
Marital agreements can benefit everyone. You don’t have to be wealthy to need a prenup. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can eliminate doubt.
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. Because of that, 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, including:
- If you own all or part of a business;
- If one party has received or will receive an inheritance; or
- If either individual has children from a previous marriage.
Prenuptial agreements require that both sides disclose all of their property and debts. They should then be given sufficient time to review the agreement and consult with an attorney before signing. The experienced family law attorneys at The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas have experience in both drafting such agreements and revising agreements to meet their clients’ wishes.
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. You can also 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. It is essential to work with a trusted family law attorney if you need or want a postnuptial agreement.
Adoption is an exciting and meaningful way to expand your family.
Stepparent adoptions typically occur when one biological parent does not support the child or maintain meaningful contact with the child. This allows a stepparent to take on a parental role. This can also happen if both parents agree to the stepparent 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.
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. 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. Knowing what to expect during the process can help you feel prepared and confident.
Time Apart for No-Fault Divorce
Arkansas law requires spouses to live apart for 18 months without reconciliation before receiving a no-fault divorce.
Grounds for 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
How Long Do I Have To Live in Arkansas Before Filing for Divorce?
At least one party must have lived in the state for 60 days before the filing for divorce. Additionally, one party must live in the state for three months before the divorce’s finalization.
Mediation and Negotiation in Divorce Cases: Making an Agreement
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. However, most couples can agree on most issues during mediation and negotiation. This is beneficial for both parties.
Asking the court to decide on the issues 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 and have the certainty that leaving the decision to a judge does not provide.
If the involved parties agree on the divorce, paperwork documenting this agreement will be filed with the court. The judge must sign off on the agreement. The judge might require a hearing or sign off on the agreement and grant the divorce without a formal hearing. In some cases, 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 whole.
What if My Ex and I Can’t Come To an Agreement?
If the parties do not come to an agreement, a court date will be set. Both sides will have the chance to make their cases on each issue of the divorce. The judge will examine all available and admissible evidence through Arkansas family law’s lens and decide on the divorce terms.
This process can be lengthy if neither side is willing to compromise. Once this process is complete, the judge grants the divorce.
The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas LLP Will Keep You Updated
Throughout this process, you’ll get regular updates from your Fayetteville family law lawyer at The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas LLP. We will develop an understanding of what you hope to get from the divorce. We want to know what you are willing to compromise on and what is non-negotiable. 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.
Reach Out to The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas LLP Today
The decisions you make about your family law case can affect you for the rest of your life. Make sure you hire an Arkansas attorney you can trust completely.
Our team at The Law Group of Northwest Arkansas LLP is dedicated to practicing law the right way. We provide our clients with the support they need during difficult times. We have a wide array of practice areas.