Adoption & Family Law

Grandparent Adoptions
It has been estimated that 8.7% of all children in Arkansas are living in grandparent-headed households, and another 2.4% of children are living in households headed by other relatives. The majority of those children are living there without either parent present.

In some cases, it is advantageous for grandparents or other houshold members to legally adopt the children. By doing so, they may be able to provide Social Security disability and income benefits to the children that they could not otherwise provide. There may be other benefits for which the children would be eligible through the adoption process.

What is Family Law?

Family Law is a phrase that is usually used to refer to legal matters affecting the dissolution of the family.  These include divorce, divorce from bed and board (sometimes called legal separation), and all issues which arise regarding division of property pursuant to divorce, custody of children, payment of spousal support and payment of child support.

The issues that arise vary greatly from case to case. Some of the most frequently asked questions and answers are listed in Divorce Q & As.

Divorce Q & As

How long does it take to get a divorce?

Where no part of the divorce is contested, a divorce can be final within 30 days. If property, grounds for divorce, or custody of children is contested, it may take six to 18 months before the divorce can be completed.

When the divorce complaint is filed, what is the effect of the automatic restraining order which is attached to the divorce papers?

The court's automatic restraining order is attached to all divorce filings. It applies equally to both parties and puts both parties on their good behavior and protects the marital status quo as to property rights until the divorce is completed.

What is a "no-fault" divorce?

"No-fault" divorce laws mean that neither spouse needs to prove that the other has been guilty of any misconduct in order to obtain a divorce. Arkansas does not allow "no-fault" divorces. However, if husband and wife have been living apart for 18 months, the court will grant a divorce without a finding of fault on the part of either party. Ark. Code Ann. 9-12-301(5)

What is considered marital property?

Marital property is all property acquired during the marriage, regardless of the name in which it is titled. Marital property does not include property that a person owned prior to the marriage, has inherited individually, or received as a gift.

What is considered marital debt?

Marital debt is ordinarily all debt acquired during the marriage, regardless of the name in which it is titled. It, too, is subject to division by the court.

How do Arkansas Courts divide the marital property?

Ark. Code Ann. 9-12-315 provides that the Court shall divide the marital property one-half to each party unless the Court finds such a division to be unfair. The statute then lists nine factors the judge should consider if the court makes an unequal division of the property.

Are pension, individual retirement accounts, and retirement benefits acquired during the marriage considered marital property and subject to division by the court upon divorce?

Yes. These are all considered marital property.

Child Custody Q & As

Can parents set their own visitation schedule, or is that a matter that the judge decides?

If the parents can agree, the judge will normally allow the agreement. However, if the matter is contested, the judge will review all the evidence and set a schedule which he feels is in the best interest of the minor children.

Can parents share "joint custody" of the children?

Yes. If both parents agree to joint custody, it is now favored under recent changes in Arkansas law. Joint custody can also now be ordered by the judge in contested cases.

Is the parent who does not receive custody of the children required to pay child support?

Yes. In those cases where one parent has primary custody, the other parent will be required to pay child support. In joint custodial arrangements, one parent may be required to assist the other if that parent's earnings greatly exceed the other's. Child support is determined by a chart found in the Arkansas Code and is usually followed strictly.

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