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9 Grounds for Divorce in Arkansas

9 Grounds for Divorce in Arkansas

In Arkansas, you cannot get a divorce simply because you want one. Arkansas has not adopted no-fault divorce, meaning that, in Arkansas, you must be able to prove some form of wrongdoing on behalf of one of the parties before you can legally get divorced.  Arkansas is one of thirty-three (33) other states that still require parties to prove some grounds for divorce. States that have adopted no-fault divorce include: Washington, Oregon, Wisconsin, Nevada, Nebraska, Montana, Missouri, Minnesota, Michigan, Kentucky, Kansas, Iowa, Indiana, Hawaii, Florida, Colorado, and California.  

Arkansas’s statutory law provides for nine (9) different grounds for which a divorce can be granted.  Those grounds, in no particular order, are as follows:

1. Felony or Infamous Crime Conviction

If your spouse is convicted of a felony or other infamous crime, such as misdemeanor theft of property, or acts of deceit, fraud, or false statements, then you have a ground to file for divorce.  Merriam-Webster defines an infamous crime as a crime that, “involves moral turpitude of a nature that creates a strong presumption that the one guilty is unworthy of belief in a court of law…” Arkansas case law has concluded that infamous crimes include crimes of deceit and dishonesty.  

2. Adultery

It’s probably no surprise that adultery is a ground for divorce in Arkansas.  In fact, a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health found that 88.8% of couples that divorced cited infidelity or extramarital affairs as a reason for the divorce. 

3. General Indignities

Although infidelity may very well be prevalent in most divorces, perhaps the most common ground for divorce in Arkansas is that of general indignities.  This ground for divorce is more than just showing that you are fighting and can no longer get along with your spouse. For a divorce to be granted on the ground of general indignities, you must be able to provide evidence that your spouse has consistently manifested such rudeness, hate, abuse, and neglect towards you as to render your life intolerable.  There must be no chance of reconciliation between you and your spouse.  

4. 1 Year of Habitual Drunkenness

If your spouse has a habit of frequently getting drunk, then you may have a viable ground for divorce in Arkansas.  Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States. According to the Arkansas Epidemiological State Profile of Substance Abuse, in 2013, almost 40% percent of Arkansas adults reported having more than one drink during the past 30 days, with 12.6% reporting binge drinking, and 5% reporting heavy drinking.  

In order to prove habitual drunkenness, your spouse does not have to be constantly drunk, but rather, it must be shown that your spouse has a frequent habit of repeatedly getting drunk when the opportunity to do so arises.  

5. Living Separate and Apart for More Than 18 Months

Another common ground for divorce in Arkansas is when you and your spouse have lived separate from one another for a continuous 18 months without cohabitation.  A divorce could not be granted if you lived separate from your spouse for 9 months, then lived together for one month, and then lived apart again for another 9 months, even though in total you lived separate and apart for 18 months.   The key to this ground for divorce is that you must have lived separate and apart for a non-interrupted 18 continuous months.  

6. Cruel and Barbarous Treatment

This seems fairly rudimentary, but if you have been subjected to such cruel treatment by your spouse as to endanger your life, then you have a ground for divorce.  Profane and abusive language is not enough to prove this ground for divorce. Specific acts of cruelty that would impair your health must be shown.  

7. Impotency 

Believe it or not, impotency is a ground for divorce in Arkansas.  If your spouse was impotent at the time of the marriage, and still is today, then you can file for divorce on the ground of impotency.  If you’re not sure what impotency is, then that’s probably a good thing. We won’t go into any more details on this ground for divorce, but if you would like to know more about impotency, give it a quick Google search. 

8. Incurable Insanity 

While many married people think that their spouses have gone insane from time to time, this alone is not enough to file based on this ground.  This ground for divorce not only requires you and your spouse to have lived separate and apart for three (3) consecutive years without cohabitation, but also requires that your spouse has been committed to a mental health institution for three (3) or more years and that they have been deemed by a court that they have an unsound mind.  It also requires that unsound mind be evidenced by two reputable physicians that are familiar with the mental condition of the spouse, with one of the physicians begin a regularly practicing physician in the area where the spouse resided.     

9. Failure to Provide Legally Obligated Support

If a spouse has been legally obligated to provide support for the “common necessities of life,” and had the financial ability to do so, then it becomes a ground for divorce when they fail to provide this support. 

Without being able to prove one of the above 9 grounds, you are not legally entitled to a divorce in Arkansas.  However, if you think you may have a basis for any of these 9 grounds and would like to discuss the possibility of filing for divorce, or have any other questions, please contact the Danielson Law Firm today. 

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