Frequently Asked Questions About Divorce
At Tapp Law Firm, we believe in finding the divorce process that is best suited to our clients and their unique situations. That process could involve dispute resolution processes like negotiation, traditional litigation, mediation or a hybrid of these different methods.
We handle most divorce proceedings including:
- Divorce, cooperative and collaborative, mediated settlements and contested litigation
- Spousal support, alimony
- Adoption, domestic adoption, stepparent adoption
- Child custody, modifications, including relocation
- Child support and enforcement, support modifications
- Invalid marriages and annulments
- Legal separation
- Property and debt valuation and equitable distribution
- Second Opinion Review
- Domestic violence, protection orders, restraining orders
- Fathers’ rights
- Nonparental child custody and guardianship
- Paternity and parentage
In Arkansas, child support is set in accordance with the Arkansas Family Support Chart, which is found in the Rules of the Arkansas Supreme Court, Administrative Rule 10. Support is set according to the income of the noncustodial parent, the number of children, the income taxes for the noncustodial parent, other child support obligations for the noncustodial parent along with the cost to insure the minor children. The income of new spouses is not normally considered in the basic support calculation.
Below are some of our clients’ most frequently asked questions about divorce:
- How is maintenance determined?
- What is marital property?
- What happens to assets I owned prior to the marriage?
- Who gets custody of the children in a divorce?
- How long does a divorce take?
Maintenance, which is sometimes referred to as alimony, is set according to the needs of the party requesting maintenance and the ability of the other party to pay. There is no formula as with child support. The court will consider various factors, such as the length of the marriage, the financial resources of the parties, the earning capacities and the age, physical and emotional condition of the parties.
The general rule in Arkansas is that all property acquired during the marriage is marital property. Most often, this includes the wages and retirement benefits of both parties, regardless of whether one or both spouses worked during the marriage. Exceptions to the marital property rule include items or funds acquired by one spouse through inheritance or gift, or the increase in value on separate property owned by one spouse and kept separate during the marriage.
Usually, assets that were brought into the marriage are presumed to be separate property. There are exceptions to this rule, however. For example, in some cases separate assets are commingled with marital property, which can defeat this presumption. This often occurs when parties jointly refinance a home that was owned by one of the parties prior to the marriage, or where the parties use community assets to pay off a loan on an asset that one party owned previously. There are many so-called gray areas to be wary of and the facts of each case must be examined closely.
Custody is determined according to the best interests of the children. Courts consider a number of factors, including whether one of the parents has historically performed the majority of parenting functions, the emotional and developmental needs of the children, the parties’ employment schedules, the children’s relationship to other siblings, wishes of children mature enough to express a reasoned preference and others. Courts will rarely order a joint custody arrangement, i.e., where the parties have equal time with the children, unless it is shown to benefit the children.
In Arkansas, there is a minimum statutory waiting period of 30 days between the time an action for divorce is commenced and the time the case may be finalized. Normally, cases take longer than this, especially if there are contested parenting, child support or property division issues. When a case is filed in Garland County, a trial date is not typically set until after the completion of discovery where the facts of the case are determined. Normally, in Garland County a contested divorce takes about ten (10) months before the final hearing from the date of filing. However, only a small percentage of cases actually go to trial, as most cases are settled prior to the trial date.
Divorce Is A Process — Find The Attorney Who Is Right For You
Divorce cases are first and foremost about the lives, relationships and futures of the people involved. As you can probably imagine, most people heading into a divorce experience a combination of fear, shock, denial, anger and resentment. Almost everyone in this situation at one time or another fears being alone; fears having failed; fears losing custody of the children; fears financial insecurity; and just basically fears the unknown. Getting caught up in a vicious cycle of fear-based thinking can make it nearly impossible to make the necessary business-like decisions that must be made in a divorce. We are here to help you put these fears aside so you can make well-reasoned decisions for your future and for the future of your children.
One of the worst mistakes you can make during the divorce process is letting your emotions get the best of you and then failing to educate yourself. Lack of knowledge can lead to a poor result in your divorce, and this isn’t good for your children, your finances or your future. In a relatively short period of time you will have to find the emotional strength to make clearheaded decisions while dealing with the overwhelming feelings that go along with the end of your family unit. Because divorce creates significant disruption resulting in permanent changes there are many questions you might have at the outset, such as:
- How will we split up our property?
- How do I prevent my spouse from moving our assets?
- Who will get the family home?
- Where will I live?
- Where will my children live?
- How will my children cope?
- How will I face the loss of time with my children?
- How do I protect my relationship with my children?
- What custody arrangement is best for our family?
- How will I deal with the social stigma of a failed marriage?
Our goal is to help you understand your options and to help you choose the strategy that will work best for you and your case.
How The Processes Are Different
Of the available processes, people are generally most familiar with traditional litigation — going to court with a lawyer, where you use the facts of the case and arguments of law to convince a judge to agree with the outcome you desire.
Like any process, litigation has its benefits and drawbacks. It is appropriate and necessary in many situations. In some cases, however, litigation may not be the best fit for a family, especially if the parties are relatively low-conflict and wish to divorce amicably.
Sometimes couples want the structure and security of a formal process to ensure careful consideration of important issues, but they still want to maintain control over their own lives without giving the final say to a judge. Some people desire a less rigid, more relaxed structure to suit their family needs.
A Divorce Attorney With Confident Advocacy And Attentive Service
Tapp Law Firm is a team of seasoned professionals who can answer your questions, inform and guide you through the process, help you formulate goals, set realistic expectations, provide you with options, formulate a case strategy, negotiate from a position of strength and ultimately be prepared to litigate if reasonable agreements cannot be reached.
Moreover, Tylar and his staff understand the stress and emotional strain our clients go through during divorce proceedings. We are dedicated to supporting you through the challenges of the process with compassionate, yet thorough and aggressive representation – helping you face the challenges of the moment with an eye toward the future.
We have represented hundreds of divorce clients in Arkansas whose property division issues present problems of complexity. Under Arkansas law, the court is required to make a fair and just distribution of the marital assets between the parties. What constitutes a fair and equitable division of property is subject to a list of factors the court must consider.
We are experienced in Arkansas complex property and asset division in divorces and understand the complexities that arise when dividing substantial assets and businesses. We have handled many high net worth cases, as well as many middle-income families with complex property situations, and know how to obtain accurate assessments of the financial circumstances.
We represent clients in valuing and dividing property, including cases involving moderate to substantial property. We work together with respected professionals in this area who provide forensic evidence regarding the true value and characterization of community and separate property. We understand how critically important the valuation of such assets is to your overall welfare.
Detailed Retirement 401(k) And Investment Division Lawyer
We can help you identify, value and divide the following types of property:
- Private and public sector pensions; public employee pension funds such as LEOFF and PERS accounts
- Retirement accounts
- Investment accounts
- Stock options and stock awards
- 401(k) plan
- Real estate properties
- Professional practices in dentistry, accounting, medicine and law
- Hidden property
Properly Valuing Business Interests In Arkansas
The division of family business assets requires the use of experts in the field to properly determine the going value of a company. Depending on the type of industry involved and the income that is generated, businesses can vary greatly in value.
Whether or not a business is selling goods or providing services, the court will look to the total amount of assets held by the company as well as the overall income it makes annually. Goodwill may also be taken into account when valuing a business. At the Tapp Law Firm, Tylar works with specialists in the field to accurately value your company. He strives to protect your rights and will fight for you in the courtroom.
High-Value Assets And International Property
Many types of assets, besides business interests, can play major parts in property division. Stock options, houses, vacation homes, boats and other high-value property can create problems for any divorce. You can rely on Tylar Tapp, a divorce settlement lawyer, to look out for your best interests at all times.
Contact Us For A Free Initial Consultation
Call our offices in Hot Springs, Arkansas, at 501-623-9800 or schedule a consultation by email.
Guiding Clients Through Life’s Legal Challenges Since 1998
Serving Clients Throughout Arkansas