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Arkansas: a community property state where martial assets are divided equitably

On Behalf of | Feb 13, 2016 | Firm News, High Asset Divorce

Handling disputes relating to asset division is an important aspect of divorce, and couples going through the divorce process need to have a strong advocate at their side to ensure their rights are protected. One of the reasons to have an experienced advocate is that different states, as readers know, have different approaches to property division, and where you get divorced can impact how these disputes are resolved.

When there is a choice, due to circumstances, as to where one should file for divorce, consideration should be given to the likely outcome of property division in each state where filing is an option. Property division is only one issue in the divorce process, though, and shouldn’t necessarily fully determine where one files for divorce, but it should at least be given due consideration, along with child custody, spousal support or alimony, and other relevant matters.

Usually, discussions of property division speak about the two general approaches of equitable division and community property. These approaches are generally contrasted by division of marital assets in a way that it fair to both parties under the circumstances, and division as a 50-50 split of marital property. In reality, though, the distinctions between these two approaches are not always so sharp.

Here in Arkansas, for instance, the approach is formally that of community property, which generally involves a 50-50 split of marital property, but courts also have the authority to alter the distribution of assets to ensure the division is equitable. In our next post, we’ll look a bit more at this topic and what factors judges consider when dividing property in Arkansas.

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.

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