Divorce in Arkansas and elsewhere is seldom cookie-cutter, meaning that marital dissolution in any given case will involve distinct — even unique — factors.
Put another way: In one divorce, child custody and visitation issues may be of overriding importance, whereas child and spousal support considerations might be a central agenda item in another dissolution.
One subject that often does emerge front and center in divorce negotiations is the division of assets — both real and personal property. Considerations surrounding property division can be especially compelling in a high net worth divorce.
The reasons for that can seem patently obvious. Family businesses feature in many high-asset divorces. Significant value may attach to various savings and investment accounts, as well as to real estate holdings, jewelry, artwork and heirlooms.
In Arkansas, how is such property divided in a divorce proceeding?
Under relevant state law, marital property is divided equitably, meaning fairly. That might — or might not — result in a precisely equal split. A judge has ample discretion to consider a number of factors in dividing property, including marital duration, the income, educational levels and vocational aptitude of both spouses, each party’s age and health, and other considerations.
Community property states are in the minority, and generally are characterized by an approach which splits marital assets equally between both parties. Arkansas is among the states using the equitable division approach, which is characterized by division of marital assets in a way that is deemed fair to each party.
A key determination at the outset of property division is deciding what property is deemed “marital” and subject to division. A related and obvious issue is valuation.
Asset division can understandably get a bit complex when property is varied and of high value. A proven Arkansas family law attorney with a deep well of experience in handling property division matters can answer questions and provide strong client representation in any divorce with property-related considerations.
Fairness in property division is a function of various factors, and Arkansas law includes among these factors: the length of the marriage, the occupation, vocational skills and employability of the parties; the contributions made by each party in acquiring, preserving and appreciating marital property; and the age and health of the parties. Judges have a significant degree of discretion in taking these factors into account.
In terms of what actually qualifies as marital property, it is generally all property acquired by either party after the marriage begins, except for certain categories of property, such as property gifts to one spouse, inheritance intended for one spouse, property excluded by a premarital agreement, and benefits from certain legal claims.
It goes without saying that it is important for divorcing parties to always work with an experienced attorney to ensure that their rights and interests receive appropriate advocacy throughout the process.
Source: DivorceNet.com, “Arkansas Divorce: dividing property,” Susan Bishop, accessed August 5, 2014