Deciding to end a marriage is a significant decision. When considering divorce in Arkansas, it is crucial to understand the available options.
Arkansas offers both fault and no-fault divorce grounds, and the choice between them depends on the specific circumstances of the marriage.
Fault versus no-fault
In a fault divorce, one spouse blames the other for the breakdown of the marriage. Grounds for fault divorce in Arkansas may include cruel treatment, adultery, habitual drunkenness for one year and imprisonment on a felony charge. If you choose a fault divorce, you will need to prove these grounds in court. It is a more contentious process but might affect the division of marital property or custody decisions.
In contrast, a no-fault divorce does not require proof of wrongdoing. Instead, the spouses acknowledge that they have lived separately for at least 18 consecutive months and there is no reasonable hope of reconciliation.
Uncontested versus contested
In an uncontested divorce, both spouses agree on all issues, including property division, child custody and spousal support. This agreement simplifies the process, allowing the divorce to proceed without a trial. Uncontested divorces usually move faster and cost less than contested ones. They can also cause less stress and conflict between the parties, which is particularly important when the divorce involves children.
A contested divorce occurs when the spouses cannot agree on one or more issues. These divorces often proceed to trial, where a judge will make decisions on the disputed matters. Contested divorces take longer and are typically more expensive.
Mediation and litigation
If you and your spouse cannot agree on all issues, but you want to avoid a trial, you might consider mediation. In mediation, a neutral third party helps you and your spouse negotiate an agreement. Mediation can save time and money, reduce conflict and give you more control over the outcome.
If mediation fails, or if you believe that your spouse is hiding assets or being dishonest, you may need to go to court. In a trial, a judge will make decisions based on the evidence presented.
Understanding these options can help you make the best choice based on your unique circumstances.