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What you should know about “no-fault” divorce in Arkansas

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2024 | Divorce

No-fault divorce is much more common than it was decades ago. Many couples choose this option because their marriage simply isn’t working for any number of reasons. Sometimes, even if one spouse is guilty of serious wrongdoing – like adultery, for example – the other spouse may not want to declare that publicly in court.

In Arkansas, if you choose a “fault” divorce, you have to list one or more grounds. These include:

  • Adultery
  • Impotence (from the start of the marriage)
  • “Habitual drunkenness”
  • Being convicted of a felony
  • Endangering the other spouse’s life “through cruel and barbarous treatment”

Perhaps the least specific fault refers to “indignities to the person of the other as shall render his or her condition intolerable.”

Choosing a no-fault divorce can be a less combative way to end a marriage and less embarrassing for both spouses and their children. It’s also the appropriate choice if, as noted, there’s not specific wrongdoing on the part of either spouse that meets the qualifications for a fault divorce. That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s a quick and easy way to end a marriage.

Understanding the state’s separation requirement

Under Arkansas law, a couple must first “have lived separate and apart from each other for eighteen (18) continuous months without cohabitation…. whether the separation was the voluntary act of one (1) party or by the mutual consent of both parties….”

That means if the spouses spend even one night under the same roof, that 18-month calendar resets. A spouse who wants to postpone a divorce could potentially do this if the other spouse isn’t aware of the law. Note also that at least one of the spouses must have resided in the state for at least 60 days before filing for divorce.

Spouses who don’t want to wait 18 months to divorce sometimes use the “indignities to the person” ground to file a fault-based divorce. This can allow them to skip that waiting period and finalize the divorce a lot sooner. These indignities, however, have to be something serious enough to be “intolerable.”

This is just a brief overview of the state’s laws. Also note that the rules regarding divorce if you have a covenant marriage here in Arkansas are considerably different. As such, if you’re considering divorce – or your spouse has already announced their intention to divorce – it’s important to seek personalized legal guidance as soon as possible. This can help you protect your rights and explore your options for ending your marriage as efficiently as possible.