Getting a Legal Separation in Arkansas

By Jim Thomas

Arkansas is a little different from most states when it comes to marriage and divorce. There are two types of marriage in Arkansas: "regular" marriages and covenant marriages. To end a covenant marriage, a couple must undergo counseling mandated by the marriage agreement before they are allowed to divorce. However, legal separations are treated similarly in both types of divorce. In other respects, Arkansas has adopted contemporary ways to dissolve a marriage, including no-fault divorce and legal separations that allow couples a cooling-off period before formally dissolving their marriage.

Arkansas is a little different from most states when it comes to marriage and divorce. There are two types of marriage in Arkansas: "regular" marriages and covenant marriages. To end a covenant marriage, a couple must undergo counseling mandated by the marriage agreement before they are allowed to divorce. However, legal separations are treated similarly in both types of divorce. In other respects, Arkansas has adopted contemporary ways to dissolve a marriage, including no-fault divorce and legal separations that allow couples a cooling-off period before formally dissolving their marriage.

Legal Separation

Legal separations come into existence as part of a court order or by written agreement of the parties. A legal separation in Arkansas usually is a prelude to divorce, but not an irrevocable one -- parties are free to reconcile at any time. Spouses in Arkansas are required to live apart before they are eligible for a divorce. A separation agreement is essential to protecting your rights during the separation period. Separation agreements can also influence the court in determining the final elements of a divorce decree. For these reasons, consulting a professional in family law is advisable.

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Contents

if you are contemplating a divorce in Arkansas, obtaining a legal separation will enable you to resolve issues that fall under the same jurisdiction of the court presiding over your divorce proceeding. In essence, a separation agreement works the same way as a divorce order and the issues are basically the same -- the division of assets, spousal and child support orders, and child custody and visitation arrangements. If you are involved in a contested divorce, very specific terms should be written into the separation agreement.

Procedure

To file for a divorce or legal separation in Arkansas, at least one spouse must live in Arkansas for 60 days and the filing must be in a county where at least one of the spouses resides. After the petition is filed, a divorce or legal separation can't be issued until at least 30 days after the filing. If you have children, the court might require you to go to parenting classes or mediation before approving a legal separation or divorce agreement.

Enforcement

Getting a legal separation agreement is particularly important for a spouse who needs child support or spousal support. A separation agreement can specify custody and visitation arrangements as well. Since the terms of a separation agreement are enforceable by Arkansas courts, it gives you some protection should your spouse violate the agreement.

Considerations

As the American Bar Association explains, the terms of a separation agreement are vitally important in both the short run and long run. Although the terms of a separation agreement can be modified in a divorce decree, some judges are reluctant to depart from the terms of the separation agreement, using it as "precedent" in determining the final divorce agreement terms. Therefore, it's important to ensure the terms of the separation agreement protect your interests because they may be incorporated into the divorce decree later.

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Legal Separation Enforcement in Maryland vs. Divorce

References

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How to Get a Legal Separation in Kansas

While some couples describe a few weeks apart as a "trial separation," the act of moving a suitcase to a friend's apartment does not constitute a separation in the eyes of Kansas courts. Instead, "legal separation" describes an alternative to divorce in which the parties remain married but live apart under a court decree of separate maintenance. The procedure for such a decree is outlined in Kansas statutes and provides for the same type of property division and financial arrangements between spouses that a divorce offers.

The Advantages of Legal Separation Vs. Divorce in New York

The decision to dissolve a marriage is not meant to be taken lightly. Due to the sweeping effects that a divorce can have on a couple's life, either spouse may be unsure as to whether such a bold change in relationship status would be beneficial. For that reason, New York offers legal separation as a way to allow a couple to experience life apart for a period, or as a long term alternative to divorce.

How to Get a No Fault Divorce in Arkansas

In Arkansas, you do not need to place blame on either spouse in order to seek a divorce. Instead, the courts will dissolve the marriage so long as the couple has lived separately for at least 18 months. Generally, it is easier to obtain a divorce when you are not trying to assign guilt. Additionally, the process may be less complicated and quicker if the couple can agree to the terms of the divorce, instead of arguing before the court.

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