This is the next post in a series of articles discussing how property is divided between spouses in Little Rock, Arkansas divorces. Our previous post provided an overview of the topics to be discussed throughout the series. It also stressed the importance of retaining an experienced attorney to assist you through the process. Doing so can help ensure that you understand your rights and that your interests are protected. In this post, we will discuss Arkansas’ law regarding the equitable division of marital assets and debts between divorcing spouses. If you need assistance with a dissolution or divorce, contact our office today to schedule a consultation with a lawyer.
When a couple decides to end their marriage, issues such as child custody, child support, alimony, and the division of property and debts can spark bitter disagreements. If the spouses are unable to work out their differences and reach a settlement on their own, these issues will be determined by a Judge through divorce litigation. Arkansas is an “equitable distribution” state in connection with the division of marital property. This means that the Judge will attempt to divide assets and debts fairly between the parties taking their financial circumstances into account. Arkansas law presumes that marital property should be split 50/50 unless doing so is inequitable to one party based on a variety of factors. These may include the length of the marriage, occupation or vocational skills, amount and sources of income, and the age and health of the parties. Other factors, such as the contribution of each party to the acquisition or preservation of marital property, including services as a homemaker, may influence the Judge’s decision. It is important to note that nonmarital property, which we will discuss in our next post, will not be subject to this analysis and will not generally be divided between spouses.
The application of this concept is best illustrated through an example. Suppose Bob and Sue have been married for twenty-five years. During the marriage, they accumulated assets valued at $500,000. Sue, who had worked early in the marriage, quit her job to raise their two children and be a homemaker. At the same time, Bob received his master’s degree and now has a top position in his company. They decide to divorce and cannot agree on the division of their marital property. The Judge will likely start the analysis under the presumption that Bob and Sue should each receive assets valued at $250,000, representing a 50/50 split. Given the length of their marriage, Sue’s long-term unemployment and potential lack of current job skills, Bob’s income and future earning potential, and Sue’s contribution to Bob’s education, the Court may determine that an equal distribution would not be equitable. If so, the Judge may make an exception and award Sue a larger share of the marital property. Every case is different and how a Judge will rule will depend upon the specific facts and circumstances of the case.
If you are considering a divorce, it is important to consult with a lawyer regarding your legal rights. Our Little Rock family law attorneys are ready to assist you. We also handle matters in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff, and throughout the rest of Arkansas.