Arkansas divorces: Is fault a factor in the process?

| May 24, 2021 | Divorce

Even though the U.S. Census Bureau reported a general decline in the nation’s overall divorce rate in 2019, it remains high, with approximately 40% to 50% of marriages ending by non-death means according to the American Psychological Association. Arkansas topped U.S. News & World Report’s list of states with the highest divorce rates in 2019.

There are no-fault states where neither party must bear responsibility for the failure of the union to legally break it, but Arkansas is not one of them.

The rule

An individual seeking a divorce must prove that one of eight grounds specified by Arkansas law applies to the spouse. They are felony conviction, cruel and inhumane treatment, humiliation, adultery, lack of support, drunkenness, impotence and incurable insanity. The evidence of the grounds used must not date back to over five years prior to filing for divorce and must take place in the state.

The exception

A couple may request a no-fault divorce if they occupied separate residences for at least 18 months. Consent is not a requirement here.

The other considerations

Fault is necessary for obtaining a divorce in most cases, but it does not affect other factors of the proceedings such as spousal support. It also does not factor directly into the determination of child custody and support. Since judges base the first on the best interests of the child, if the behavior or condition that served as a reason for the divorce negatively affects said youth’s welfare, it may count against the parent. The second depends in part on the former, so fault may also indirectly impact it.

It is important for individuals to ensure that they have proof of one of Arkansas’s fault-based grounds for divorce or qualify for a no-fault divorce before pursuing one. Doing so may minimize potential complications.