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What is the divorce process?

Navigating a divorce involves several clear steps, each designed to systematically dissolve a marriage through legal means. Understanding these steps can make the process more manageable during a challenging time.

Knowing what to expect at each stage, from filing the petition to attending the final hearing, can ease the stress and help you prepare effectively.

Filing the petition

You start by submitting a divorce petition to the court officially requesting the termination of your marriage under Arkansas divorce law. The petition must include information about both spouses and the grounds for divorce. 

State law requires you to have a valid reason for the divorce, such as irreconcilable differences or fault-based grounds.

Serving the papers

After filing, you must give your spouse the divorce papers. This step ensures that your spouse is aware that the divorce legal process has begun and gives them a chance to respond. 

Serving the papers typically involves a sheriff or process server delivering the documents. 

Responding to the petition

Your spouse has the opportunity to answer the petition. They might agree, disagree, or file counterclaims. 

In Arkansas, the recipient must file a response within 30 days of getting served with the divorce papers. 

Mediation (if applicable)

If there are disagreements, you might go through mediation, potentially reaching an agreement outside of court. 

Mediation involves a neutral third party who facilitates discussions. It aims to resolve issues such as property division, child custody, and support.

Final hearing

Once you settle all of the divorce issues, a final hearing takes place. Here, the judge reviews the agreements and finalizes the divorce. After the judge’s approval, they issues the divorce decree, officially ending the marriage.

Even though divorce is difficult, understanding the steps involved can make the process easier. Being informed helps you navigate the challenges and ensures your rights and interests are protected.