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Arkansas Family Law FAQs

Q:

How long does the divorce process take?

A:

Once you file for divorce in Arkansas, you must wait for at least 30 days before the marriage is legally dissolved by the court. This is true even if you have executed a marital separation agreement where you and your spouse have reached a consensus on all divorce terms. When conflicts exist over child custody, property division, alimony or child support, the process could take much longer. If you are seeking a no-fault divorce for a non-covenant marriage, you and your spouse must have lived apart for at least 18 months. For parties to a covenant marriage, this period is extended to two years. To petition for a divorce, one of the spouses must have lived in the state for at least 60 days.

Q:

Should I put together a prenuptial agreement?

A:

Whether you and your intended spouse choose to execute a prenuptial agreement is a personal decision that you should make together. Consulting with an experienced Arkansas family lawyer can help you understand the benefits of preparing a premarital agreement, as well as some divorce-related matters that cannot be addressed in these documents. Don’t be misled into thinking that prenuptial agreements are only for spouses looking to safeguard their massive fortune in case their marriage ends. One of the prime reasons couples take this step is to reduce the likelihood of costly litigation over issues such as property division and alimony in the event they get a divorce. Whatever income bracket you’re in, you want to be as financially stable as possible as you start a new chapter in your life.

Q:

How does the court determine child custody?

A:

Usually, parents know what is best for their children, and if it’s possible for them to work out custody and visitation arrangements on their own, they should try. Sometimes, however, consensus cannot be reached, and it is up to a Family Court judge to decide what is in a child’s best interests. Any relevant information can be considered during the decision-making process, but key factors include each parent’s physical and mental health, the relative home environments, the child’s routine, educational opportunities at each residence and if either parent has a history of domestic violence or substance abuse. If the child is mature enough, the judge can consider the youth’s preference but does not have to abide by his or her wishes.

Q:

How can I enforce a child support order?

A:

The Arkansas Office of Child Support Enforcement offers assistance to parents who have not received the payments owed by their former partner. Our firm also represents clients during enforcement proceedings. In some instances, clear communication is enough to compel reimbursement of back child support. Other times, legal measures must be taken. You can petition to attach a nonpaying parent’s wages, unemployment compensation, tax refund or other types of income until the debt is repaid. A parent who does not provide the required child support could also face the suspension of their driver’s or professional license.