In our last post, we began speaking about property division in general, and the approach used here in Arkansas. As we noted, Arkansas is a good example of why making a sharp division between the equitable distribution and community property approaches to property division can be misleading.

Again, judges in Arkansas do presume that a one-half division is proper in divorce, but they also have the ability to alter property division to reach an equitable result. As in other states which use an equitable distribution approach, Arkansas law identifies various factors judges must take into consideration when dividing property.

These factors include: the amount and sources of income available to each party; the occupation, vocational skills, and employability of each party; and the age, health and station in life of each party. Judges will consider the assets, liabilities and needs of each party, as well as the opportunity for each party to further acquire assets and income. Contributions made to the acquisition, preservation, or appreciation of marital property are also considered, as well as the tax consequences of any given property arrangement.

When a decision to alter the 50-50 split arrangement in property division, a judge is required by law to provide the basis and reasoning for the decisions made, including the relative weight given to the various factors taken into consideration. This allows for the possibility of reviewing the decision later, if need be, to determine whether the judge exercised his or her discretion properly, which is an issue that can come up from time to time.  

In our next post, we’ll take a brief look at how marital property is defined in Arkansas, and how a prenuptial agreement can alter property division rules.

Source: 2015 Arkansas Code: Section 9-12-315