The basics of property division in Arkansas

There are a number of factors that determine who will get what property following a divorce in Arkansas.

When people choose to end their marriage, perhaps one of the most frequent issues that pops up is dividing marital property. Every state has its own approach to how this process is conducted. Arkansas is an equitable distribution state, which means a number of factors will come into play during the decision-making process. People going through a divorce should be aware of how their assets could be divided.

What does equitable division mean?

In terms of property division during divorce, equitable division refers to a split that is not necessarily equal, but it is fair. In other words, a court will take a number of factors into account when determining who should receive which property instead of just dividing the assets 50/50.

What items are considered marital property?

Marital property refers to most items that are acquired following the marriage. These are the items that are eligible for division. Non-marital property refers to items acquired before marriage and typically will not be split. There are some exceptions, however, such as the following:

  • Gifts or inheritance that one spouse receives are considered separate property.
  • Mingling non-marital property with marital property often results in an asset eligible for division.
  • Interest on a non-marital asset is usually considered separate.

In a March 2016 decision, the Supreme Court of Arkansas further clarified that last point. The case revolved around an appreciation in the property value of a business one spouse owned prior to the marriage. An initial court ruled that the appreciation would be considered marital property, but, as the Arkansas Times points out, the justices overturned the decision. They stated that despite the fact that the other spouse contributed to the company, the appreciation would remain separate.

Lastly, Arkansas has adopted the Uniform Disposition of Community Property Rights at Death Act. This protects the rights that each spouse has to property that may have been considered marital property before moving into the state.

How does the court determine who gets what?

Once the divorcing parties determine which property is eligible for division, they can begin to separate it. If both spouses cannot agree on how to do this, a court will do it for them. To do this, a judge will take into account a number of factors. For example, the length of the marriage and the age, economic status and health of each party will be considered. How much each spouse contributed to the marriage could be a factor, as well any tax implications associated with dividing the assets.

While it could appear that property division may be simple, the truth is that it is often highly complicated. Anyone who is going through a divorce should connect with a family law attorney in Arkansas.