Dissolution of marriage is a tiresome procedure and a financial burden to any married couple. Many spouses dream of resolving this issue as soon as possible and ideally without an attorney. Is there a way in which online divorce services can help with this task? Many have already heard about this option, but not everyone understands what it is and how it works. This article highlights all critical aspects of internet divorce in Arkansas.
What does online divorce mean?
The concept of online divorce is often misunderstood. The termination of a marriage, as well as its conclusion, is possible only in court. There is no other way, at least for now. The judge must sign the divorce decree, which will officially divorce the spouses.
So what do numerous online divorce companies offer? The list of services they provide may vary, but the main point is the same for all. Married couples who apply for divorce to such companies receive completed divorce papers they can file with the court.
Most companies provide detailed filing instructions. Yet, the clients have to go to court in person to file the documents. The spouses will also need to attend a court hearing. There, a judge will ask them several questions and then decide on their case. It is safe to say that such services offer an improved version of DIY divorce. The difference is that clients don’t have to collect and fill out the papers on their own.
What is the Procedure of Arkansas Internet Divorce?
The process for obtaining divorce documents usually consists of a few simple steps. First, each client fills out an application for divorce online. It is with a short questionnaire to check eligibility. Usually, these questions are about residency, minor children, and willingness to compromise.
Next, there is a registration process and a more thorough questionnaire. The service uses this information to complete the paperwork for the divorce process. Each client has access to customer support and can contact them to solve technical issues, if any. These services do not provide legal advice and cannot tell a client what decisions to make.
When the papers are ready, a person can download and print them. The final stage is to take the signed forms to the local circuit court and pay for the filing fees. A spouse filing for divorce – petitioner – must pay $165 for divorce and $165 for child custody and support. A respondent (the other spouse) can agree to split the costs, but it’s not always the case.
Who Can Use Online Divorce Services?
A web divorce is a fast method to prepare the required documents and file them with the court. But not all spouses can qualify to use this method. Online paperwork preparation services are suitable for couples with an uncontested divorce. It’s when the spouses can agree on key terms of their parting, such as property division or child custody.
These couples may choose not to hire a lawyer because they won’t have to go through court trials. So, they can complete divorce online only by getting the necessary state-specific papers.
Residency Requirements in Arkansas
To start a divorce proceeding, at least one of the spouses must be an Arkansas resident. They must live in the state for 60 days before the filing and three months before the final judgment (AR Code § 9-12-307). Usually, the county where a petitioner lives is the venue for the process. If a filing spouse does not live in Arkansas, then the case should be filed with the court where the respondent lives.
Grounds for Divorce
Arkansas law provides no-fault and fault-based grounds for divorce. Spouses who want to part amicably and choose a no-fault option must live separately for 18 months without cohabitation. If a spouse decides to use fault-based grounds, there would be a court trial where a judge would ask for proof of the other party’s guilt.
Fault-based reasons are the following (AR Code § 9-12-301):
- Cruel treatment;
- Habitual drunkenness for one year;
- Willful non-support;
- A felony conviction;
- Incurable insanity and institutionalization for three years.
Child Custody Issues
For Arkansas courts, child issues are a priority in any marriage dissolution case. Most of the time, judges tend to award equal child custody rights to the spouses. It will ensure frequent contact between children and both parents.
If the spouses agree about who will be a primary custodial parent, they write down the terms in a settlement agreement and draft a parenting plan. The judge reviews this plan during a court hearing and approves or rejects it. Before or after the final judgment, the court may ask the spouses to attend parenting classes. Each parent pays for them individually.
Child Support and Alimony
Child support and spousal support are vital factors for the future well-being of each spouse and children. Alimony in Arkansas can be temporary or permanent. The couples can decide on this issue themselves. If not, a judge resolves everything during the marriage dissolution proceedings.
For calculation of child support, Arkansas courts use the Family Support Chart. It is based on the parents’ combined gross monthly income and the number of children. Besides the basic amount of support for a child’s day-to-day needs, the court also orders parents to cover healthcare needs, such as insurance.
If one spouse or both of them are serving in the military, several federal laws influence the divorce process. Proceedings may be postponed if a service member is on active duty and cannot attend a court hearing. Under the SCRA, civil court actions are delayed until the service member is back plus 60 days afterward.
The military status also affects the service of process. The Complaint and Summons’ copies must be handed to a military spouse, if they are respondent, in person by a sheriff or a private process server.
The cost of divorce
The cost depends on the amount of family property, minor children, and the readiness to compromise. If the spouses cannot agree about key terms, they typically hire lawyers whose hourly fee starts from $250 to $300. The cost of such a divorce is going to be $7,000-$10,000.
Amicable cases are more affordable. The spouses need to pay a filing fee of $165 to the Court Clerk to start the process. There could also be additional motions. If the spouses decide to use one of the online divorce papers preparation services, they will pay $100-$300.
How long does it take?
The length of a marriage dissolution process depends on its type. Cases with contested issues can last for up to 12 months or longer. But if spouses agree on all matters before going to court, their marriage dissolution will be much faster.
If a couple chooses to proceed with a do-it-yourself divorce, they can use a web-based service for quick preparation of papers. Most such services promised completed paperwork in just a few days. And all the spouses need to do afterward is to file the papers with the court.
Uncontested cases take at least three months to be finalized. It is a minimum waiting period in Arkansas from the moment of filing until getting a divorce decree. But in reality, even an amicable marriage dissolution lasts longer than three months.
Benefits of a web divorce
Using an online divorce documents preparation service is an inexpensive way to get completed documents without hiring a lawyer. The papers are usually high-quality and free from mistakes, except those a client makes when answering the questions. The main benefits are as follows:
- Low price
- No need to search for the forms on the web or elsewhere
- High-quality papers drafted according to the Arkansas state standards
- Responsive customer support and detailed filing instructions
Preparing for the marriage dissolution online saves a person’s time and money. This method also helps end their marriage with less stress and emotional strain.