Start a Divorce
This article will help you understand the process for starting a Divorce in Arkansas. It will walk through the step you need to take to get file the divorce and obtain service.
Your first step in the divorce process involves filling out the appropriate divorce forms. That is what we can provide on this site. Then you must determine where to file them. Before we cross that bridge, to file in Arkansas either the Plaintiff (the person filing for divorce) or the Defendant (the person getting sued for divorce) must have been a resident of Arkansas for 60 days.
If one person has been a resident of Arkansas for at least 60 days, then you can file in either the county the Plaintiff lives in or the county the defendant lives in. Sometimes this becomes a race and whoever files first will when. So, if someone lives in Little Rock and their spouse lives in Fayetteville, it is going to be a long drive for whoever does not file first.
The documents you need to start your Arkansas Divorce:
- Cover sheet
- If you have children – Confidential Information Sheet.
These are all included in our divorce packet. You will take all of them to the Circuit Clerk and file them with the Clerk. Make sure and take copies, they may file-mark some to keep and file-mark some to give you. They will give you copies of everything and issue your summons. Now you are ready to serve someone. FYI – the filing fee is $165 and some clerks charge $2.50 to issue the summons. Which you need.
You have to give the Defendant a copy of your filed complaint and the summons – this is called serving the complaint. There are a couple ways to serve your complaint on your spouse.
If your spouse (the Defendant) agrees to accept service, your spouse or your spouse’s attorney can accept service. Your spouse needs to sign a form called “Entry of Appearance and Waiver.” This form must be signed and notarized. This form in included in the divorce packets on this site.
You may also have your complaint served by the sheriff’s office in the county where the Defendant lives. You need to make sure the sheriff’s department receives the documents and serves the Defendant. The sheriff will charge for this service. It is normally between $50 and $75 dollars. Once the sheriff has served the Defendant the will fill out a proof of service that is attached to the summons. That needs to get filed in your case. Sometimes they do, but it is your job to make sure it gets done. You can follow the same process with a private process server. Private process servers cost about the same, but tend to get the service done faster – they do not have people to arrest between serving divorce papers.
You may serve your spouse by registered or certified mail. If your spouse accepts the package, the return receipt showing delivery is your proof to the court that you served your spouse with the complaint and summons.
If you cannot locate your spouse, you can still meet service requirements by asking the court issue a document called a “warning order,” which directs the Defendant to appear within 30 days. The local newspaper or other publication located in the county of the court order will publish the warning order, which satisfies the service requirement. This is a more complicated process and you may want to consult with an attorney before doing it.
Under Arkansas Law, you have 120 days after the complaint is filed to get the Defendant served.