A divorce during pregnancy in Arkansas can be a complicated process. Apart from looking for lawyers or trying to reach an agreement with your spouse, you must also think about your future child’s best interests.
There will be complications and legal issues on your way to divorce, but fortunately, most of them are manageable.
Arkansas Divorce and Pregnancy
Divorce laws for expecting couples are different in Arkansas than in other states. For couples getting divorced while pregnant in Arkansas, a final decree is not an option until the baby is born.
Most of the time, the judges are reluctant to decide on custody and financial support until they clarify the child’s needs. Also, paternity issues may arise during a divorce.
According to Arkansas law, the pregnant woman’s husband is assumed to be the child’s father.
A presumed parent must challenge this assumption before a divorce is granted, and for that, one must wait for the child’s birth to undergo genetic testing.
Steps to start a divorce while pregnant in Arkansas
While you are waiting for your child’s birth, you can initiate the divorce process and begin preparing the necessary information and required documents.
It will also be helpful to thoroughly plan the post-divorce period and try to predict what situation you will find yourself in afterward.
You can think about your financial and career prospects, what costs you will face, and your intentions regarding child custody.
Although you cannot obtain a divorce decree until the child’s birth, you can file for divorce while pregnant in Arkansas. The filing process roughly consists of several steps, including the following:
- Filing a Complaint for Divorce and Summons
- Paying a filing fee or requesting a fee waiver
- Sending legal notice to the other party
- Scheduling a court hearing
A divorce complaint already contains questions about the wife’s pregnancy and the biological father of the child. You can also use it to state a reason for ending your marriage.
Arkansas law provides six fault grounds (adultery, cruelty, incarceration, etc.) and a no-fault cause when the parties have lived separately for 18 months before the filing (AR Code § 9-12-301).
But it is not the only document you will need. Divorce paperwork can be quite extensive, depending on the circumstances of your separation.
If you are not sure how to collect the right forms, you can use an online divorce service specializing in divorce papers preparation for DIY divorces.
Alimony and child support
If you are pregnant and believe you might need extra financial help after a divorce, you can request alimony. First, a judge determines whether your circumstances require financial support, and then they decide on the type and amount of alimony.
There are three types:
Typically, the person with a higher income would provide support for the other party, and most of the time, it is the man who pays alimony to the woman. In theory, a couple can agree on the type and terms of alimony.
For instance, if a supporting spouse has enough funds, they can make a lump-sum payment. But most of the time, alimony becomes a periodic monthly payment.
In addition to alimony, a primary custodial parent will receive child support payments. In Arkansas, this support depends on the parents’ combined income and the number of children.
When the needs for child support change, the child support order can always be modified.
Reaching an agreement
While you are waiting for a baby’s birth, you and your spouse can try to agree on the basic terms of your separation. The issues you need to discuss should primarily concern custody arrangements and child support, property division, and alimony if necessary.
You can use a qualified mediator’s services or even hire a lawyer to make sure you don’t miss anything important.
If you and your spouse agree on everything, you can have an uncontested divorce, which is much easier and faster than when a couple goes through a trial.
After you have prepared a written settlement agreement, you must submit it to a judge for review. If no rights are violated, this agreement will become part of the final judgment.
Divorce during pregnancy is twice as complicated as regular marriage dissolution. You will have to consider your child’s needs when they come to this world and think ahead about what circumstances you will face at the end of your marriage.
An average couple ready to part amicably may be spared certain complications, but not all of them. Even uncontested divorces need time to be resolved.
Let’s look at the possible difficulties you might face in the process of getting a divorce during pregnancy in Arkansas.
Before the spouses can end their marriage, they need to go through several stages, including several waiting periods. The first one is the time necessary to meet the residency requirements.
To dissolve a marriage in Arkansas, at least one spouse must be a resident of the state for 60 days before filing a lawsuit (AR Code § 9-12-307).
In addition, if a married couple wants to separate amicably on no-fault grounds, they need to live apart for 18 consecutive months without getting back together.
And the third waiting period concerns the rules of civil procedure, according to which spouses must wait 30 days after filing before obtaining a divorce even if they want to part amicably.
In Arkansas, a husband is presumed to be a parent of a child conceived during the marriage. However, he can object to this presumption by providing sufficient evidence to the court. A woman with a child can also challenge the paternity presumption by stating that her husband is not the child’s father.
A man contesting his biological connection to the child may be required to submit genetic testing results. Resolving paternity is very important if you want to avoid undesirable obligations, such as paying child support.
It is also beneficial if you are a mother deciding to exclude your husband from any custody arrangements.
In most cases, divorce means the termination of the health insurance plan for one of the spouses. Losing medical insurance is a primary reason why some couples expecting a child are hesitant to dissolve their marriage.
All Arkansas family law courts require that both parents provide sufficient financial support to their children and healthcare coverage. If both spouses are employed, a child may be insured under either of the employer-powered insurance plans.
Sometimes it is even possible to make one of the programs primary and the other secondary to pay for outstanding expenses.
If a parent does not have an insurance plan provided by their employer, they must purchase a private health insurance plan for the child. And in a case when both parents are unemployed, the child may be insured under state medical plans.
So, there are plenty of options to handle health insurance issues.
Not every couple can agree to part amicably and resolve all issues related to divorce. When spouses have many disagreements about child custody or property division, they will have to settle them through a court trial.
This will considerably increase the length of the marriage dissolution proceedings, as each party must collect all sorts of financial information or evidence of the other spouse’s guilt.
Besides, if paternity is challenged at any stage, you will have time to prepare for the corresponding hearing. While you are waiting for your child’s birth, it will also be useful to take the time to find an attorney to represent your interests in court.
Should you divorce while pregnant in Arkansas?
Every married couple has their reasons to get divorced, and sometimes even the prospect of having a baby cannot save the marriage.
If you feel like it is an absolute necessity to start the marriage dissolution procedure as soon as possible, at least weigh the pros and cons and prepare for potential difficulties.
If you anticipate a contentious divorce, it is a good idea to consult a legal specialist. However, in uncontested cases, all you need is to collect the required papers and complete them according to your state’s rules.