Divorce, anywhere you are, is usually an emotional, life-changing, and complex legal event. What happens to your assets, home, money, and children are only some of the questions you need to discuss thoroughly with your empathetic and knowledgeable Arkansas family lawyer.
Also, in most American families, their home is one of their most important and valuable assets. Accordingly, which spouse ends up with your home is a central question.
Arkansas law provides some of the answers, and they’re straightforward. In Arkansas, all marital property may be distributed fifty-fifty to each spouse. This is, of course, unless the Arkansas courts rule that 50/50 division is not equitable for specific reasons.
So, without intervening legal complications, Arkansas is an “equitable distribution” state regarding property division in divorce proceedings.
Both spouses may personally divide any property by a signed settlement called a “Property Settlement Agreement,” which is then approved by the court.
However, as simple as this sounds, there is a “catch” that can significantly complicate the matter. In Arkansas, this 50/50 split only applies to property or assets considered “marital property.” This effectively translates that property owned by either spouse before marriage is usually exempt from this rule and individually owned assets acquired during the marriage are occasionally exempt. So, if you or your spouse owned property before your wedding or acquired property on your own (in your name only), it may be considered “non-marital” property and commonly will be yours alone.
Accordingly, in many divorces (even uncontested ones), this “glitch” in the 50/50 property split rule may be a natural area of dispute, and it will have to be explicitly decided what constitutes “marital property.” One of the first things a judge will do is determine marital and non-marital property. Also, non-marital property can include property inherited by either spouse, gifts to one spouse, or assets such as proceeds from a worker’s comp claim.
Depending on the specific nature of the assets and those acquired before or during the marriage, you already begin to see that any 50/50 split can get overly complex.
Even in relatively uncontested divorces, you must consult your Little Rock family lawyer so that these matters can be settled as equitably and amiably as possible before it goes before the judge.
What Are Some Things That the Arkansas Courts May Consider Regarding Property Division?
As stated, in most cases (especially in uncontested divorces), Arkansas law will split property 50/50 between the two spouses. However, Arkansas does have a set of factors outlined by statute, which assists the court in determining a fair property division.
Just some examples of these factors that may be considered during property division include:
- Income and Earning Capacity – The court always considers each spouse’s income and earning capacity. Income can be affected by age, education, and overall health. A spouse with lower economic prospects may receive a more significant percentage of the property and estate.
- Custody of any Children Involved – If either spouse acquires full possession of the children following the divorce, they may be rewarded a higher percentage of the estate and marital property (such as the family house).
Many more statutes affect these decisions, and your Arkansas family lawyer will be able to explain which may apply to your situation. As always, it’s always best to attempt to address all these matters before you go before the judge.
If this can be done, working towards an “uncontested divorce,” where many of the decisions have already been amiably decided upon, is the best path to follow. If the court must make decisions for you, chances are that one or both spouses may be displeased with the outcome.
Can a “Property Division Order” Be Enforced in Arkansas?
The simple legal answer is Yes; in most cases, it can. Your divorce is unique, and your family divorce lawyer will be familiar with all the particulars involved.
A “property division order” issued by a judge will outline precisely how property will be divided between the spouses after the divorce is finalized.
A property division order also is a binding legal decree. If either spouse fails to comply with the outlined terms in full, they can be charged with “contempt of court.”
If you have a situation where your spouse isn’t complying with a property division order, consult with your Little Rock family lawyer, and they will explain all the potential legal remedies available to you.
So, is Arkansas Strictly a “Community Property State”?
This may sound legally complex, but Arkansas is not considered a “community property state.” In many divorce decrees, this means that “marital property” is not automatically divided 50/50 between spouses.
This 50/50 split may be the goal, but myriad factors apply before making final decisions. However, this is another reason that critical issues in your divorce are discussed via your lawyers before appearing before the court.
As stated, if an Arkansas judge must make these decisions, they will determine property division under the “equitable distribution policy,” The courts will divide property between the spouses in what they perceive to be a fair distribution.
For example, judges in Arkansas often divide marital property, with approximately 2/3 of marital property and assets going to the higher-earning spouse and 1/3 to the lower-earning spouse.
It’s always in both spouses’ best interests that you don’t leave these decisions up to the courts. Your Arkansas family lawyer will always be on your side and fight for your rights. So, use your lawyers’ experience and negotiating skills ahead of time and help to ensure the outcome you desire.
I Plan On Divorcing, and Need My Home; How Should I Proceed?
Even in an “uncontested divorce” where you and your ex-spouse may agree on most things, divorce is never a “simple” process when it reaches the courts. It’s always best to consult with an experienced, knowledgeable, and empathetic Arkansas family lawyer and thoroughly outline all your concerns and questions. This is especially true if your family home or other significant assets are involved.
Minor issues often become roadblocks if a spirit of fair negotiation is not embraced. Your spouse will have an attorney on their side; accordingly, you need your lawyer fighting for your rights and future on your behalf! Don’t hesitate; when your and your children’s home is involved, only acquire the best and most current legal advice and guidance, and your Little Rock family law team stands by to help.