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When you are thinking about ending your marriage, learning how to file for divorce and what to expect can relieve some of the stress of this emotional decision. If you or your spouse has lived in Arkansas for at least 60 days, you can file for divorce here in the state.

Read on to get the facts about obtaining a divorce in Arkansas.

Separation requirements

Divorcing couples must live separately for at least 18 months before filing for an uncontested divorce. If they reside under the same roof even for one night, the separation period begins again from day one.

The court waives the separation period for individuals seeking a fault-based divorce. This route is available when one spouse has committed adultery, abuse, desertion or a felony offense or struggles with alcohol or drug abuse.

What to expect

 You can file a divorce petition in the Arkansas county where you reside or in the county where your spouse resides if you live in another state. If you and your spouse agree on issues of property division, spousal support and child custody, the judge will review the agreement and make sure both parties understand its implications.

When spouses cannot reach an agreement on these issues, the court will hold a hearing. Both parties will have a chance to present evidence supporting his or her case. Based on this information, the judge will enter an official decree of divorce.

Guidelines for contentious issues

 In a contested divorce, the court uses legal guidelines to make decisions about child custody, alimony and marital property. In general, Arkansas spouses must equally divide property and debt in a divorce. The court may award spousal support indefinitely or for a specific time period. Arkansas strives to award joint custody when this arrangement is in the child’s best interest.

The end of a marriage is often a difficult, emotional time. A good support system can help ease this transition.