Just In: Divorce rates at a 30 year low!?

So last week I was listening to the radio and the hosts were discussing trends in divorce. According to some survey divorces were at an all time low last year, lowest in 30 or so years. They also said the number of marriages doubled last year from previous years. The radio hosts were super enthusiastic about those numbers and although I am an eternal optimist I’m going to be a little bit cynical here. 

In the majority of divorces filed in Arkansas at least one party is self-represented. Not surprising since the median income in Arkansas for 2015 was $41,995 according to the census. $11,100 is the average cost of a divorce in Arkansas. If you have kids, the average cost jumps to $16,700. And if you don’t settle and you head to trial those numbers can double. Can you afford $11,100 for legal fees? I can’t. In fact, a recent study indicated that most solo and small firm attorneys couldn’t afford their own fees.

That’s just the financial restraints and doesn’t include limitations in access to attorneys. Would you be surprised to learn that there are counties in Arkansas without access to an attorney? As far as the number of marriages doubling I’m sure the extension of equal legal rights to individuals pursuing same sex marriages had a lot to do with that.

Do these depressing statistics mean you are doomed to be locked into an unhappy, unhealthy marriage until you hit the lottery? Absolutely not! As attorneys, we work for you and as legal consumers you are not only demanding better access to legal help but at reasonable rates. You don’t have to decide whether you want quality legal help or random Internet forms at a lower cost. You can have both. You can unbundle your legal services.

Unbundling is limited lawyer assistance. Think of it this way… most TV providers offer a bundled package, which includes TV, Internet, and phone service. So if you need all of those things, great. However, I know no one with a landline phone so most people don’t really need that option. Those people unbundle the package and just do TV and Internet. Unbundled legal services work the same way. You don’t pay for what you don’t need.

Learn more about customizing your legal services here.

You've Been Served... Divorce Papers

I spend at least half of my time talking clients down from a frenzied panic after they are served with their divorce papers. The situation is already super emotionally charged and you are entering into unfamiliar territory with strange legal lingo and formal procedures you thought only happened in movies. It’s understandable that receiving these papers may trigger your defenses but STOP! This only leads to unwarranted anger, confrontation, and suspicion, which translate to unnecessary opposition and pricey legal fees.

If you knew the divorce was coming, especially if you have been at least somewhat civil, then it is unlikely that your spouse is trying to screw you right out of the gate. It’s that fear of the unknown, the hurt of the situation, and the resentment toward your spouse that keeps you on guard. Here are three of the triggers that drive your defensiveness and why they are not as they seem.

The Restraining Order. Gasp! Your spouse sends your divorce papers and hits you with a restraining order. Before even reading the contents of the paper you are livid and confused. No worries. This is not your typical restraining order. This form is standard. Everyone getting a divorce in Arkansas will receive it. The reason you receive this form is because once the court gets your case you can’t sell or remove real or personal marital property without consent of the court. I hate the name of this document for obvious reasons but they don’t let me make up names for this stuff. Anyhow, you are “restrained” from removing marital property from the marital estate during your divorce and this is how they inform you of that.

The Rogue Petition. The petition is the document asking the court to grant your divorce. This petition is usually general, containing very few details and just filled with the most basic statements required to request a divorce in Arkansas. Where are all of the things you and your spouse agreed to? What is your spouse trying to hide? Likely, nothing. Divorce lawyers use standard petitions for most all of their divorce cases, just change a name here and date there. Your details are reserved for the Decree of Divorce. This document is the final document in your divorce and will be what the judge signs to grant your divorce. Sometimes that petition includes additional requests that are totally opposite from what you have agreed upon with your spouse. More often than not this happens because either the lawyer forgot to remove those provisions or s/he is asking for everything possible to reserve room for negotiation just in case. Why would a lawyer not explain any of these common points of contention in your otherwise peaceful divorce? I’m sure the lawyer’s up to $375 per billable hour fee is not an incentive to throw some doubt and overzealous requests into the mix. Bottom line, if you’ve agreed to no spousal support or joint custody then give your spouse the benefit of doubt the agreement still stands until proven otherwise.

The Attorney’s Fees. What?! Does your spouse really expect you to pay for their legal fees in addition to yours, especially since s/he wanted the divorce? Maddening, I know. The good news is that divorce lawyers always throw this into their requests because lawyers should ask the court for every possible remedy for their client. Are they going to be awarded attorneys fees in your divorce? Without some compelling reason why this is justified or strong argument that your actions or inactions caused your spouse unnecessary legal fees, then no.

Don’t get caught up in hype that divorce has to be messy and expensive. It doesn’t. Am I saying to just give your spouse full trust that your agreement will move forward as planned and hope for the best? Absolutely not! You have 30 days after you receive the papers to file an answer. If you don’t do so within that time you lose your right to respond and your spouse can move forward and ask for whatever they want as long as the judge agrees. Even if you are working through it together, you should strongly consider getting your response in to protect your rights. Filing a response protects you but in no way means that you can’t still pursue an agreement or that you are doomed for a long and lengthy court battle.  

AVL advocates for peaceful divorces and works to educate people divorcing in Arkansas on their rights and the whole legal process. Save money and avoid drama here

Divorce: Things You Need To Stop Fighting About #3- The Past

Your divorce is looming. Unsolicited advice is being thrown at you from your family, divorced friends, and sometimes even random strangers. I’ll be the first to tell you; don’t believe everything other people say about divorce. There is a lot of misinformation out there. Every divorce is different with different sets of issues. What may be perceived as typical of divorce to your friend may not really apply to your divorce. Please, please do not make your decisions based on your friend’s experience. That usually leads to unnecessary complication and fighting. Not to mention, a lot of needless attorneys fees. Here is the third of three things you need to stop fighting about right now.

#3 The Past

Focus on the future, not the past. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you can’t “win” in a divorce. It is almost unheard of for you to get everything you want or ask for in a divorce. Seriously, focusing on “beating” your spouse is pointless so stop being difficult and try to come to a reasonable agreement. I know this may help you to feel more in control in an otherwise chaotic situation but try to set your hurt aside and really think about the consequences of your actions. He cheated. You should get all of the furniture, right? He wants the bedroom set and big screen TV and refuses to negotiate. You can’t let him “win”. Think about it though and stop threatening court!

What does an all out court brawl look like in reality? You could probably replace all of that furniture and take a vacation with money to spare all for the amount of money you would spend in a grueling he said she said battle of wills. We are talking thousands of dollars on court and attorneys fees. Even worse, if children are involved, they could ultimately suffer most from the ongoing fighting. Court should be a last resort not a tool of intimidation or the result of frustration. It’s often a very long, drawn out process, even for minor disputes, and ultimately in the end there is no way to know if your fighting and thousands of dollars will be worth it because no one knows how the judge will rule.  Then after the judge makes the ruling you are required by court order to follow what a third party decided was best for you and your family.

My advice? Be the bigger person and think long term. Not for your spouse but for yourself. The past got you to this point: divorce. You feel wronged and that’s understandable. However, if you continue to dwell on it during the divorce process and beyond, you will not be able to move on. If you have kids, you need to put your past relationship aside and focus only on getting along to co-parent your children. Don’t get hung up bickering about the small stuff, like the dishes or karaoke machine. In the grand scheme those things are insignificant. Again, is it worth dropping an extra two grand on attorney’s fees for a $200 karaoke machine? Reserve that money for negotiating disputes about the big stuff, like child custody or visitation.

Consider a peaceful divorce.

Divorce: Things You Need to Stop Fighting About #2- Co-Parenting

Your divorce is looming. Unsolicited advice is being thrown at you from your family, divorced friends, and sometimes even random strangers. I’ll be the first to tell you; don’t believe everything other people say about divorce. There is a lot of misinformation out there. Every divorce is different with different sets of issues. What may be perceived as typical of divorce to your friend may not really apply to your divorce. Please, please do not make your decisions based on your friend’s experience. That usually leads to unnecessary complication and fighting. Not to mention, a lot of needless attorneys fees. Here is the second of three things you need to stop fighting about right now.

#2 Co-Parenting

The bottom line is this: you are getting divorced your kids are not. Kids are not property or a tool to use in negotiation. It’s likely that a part of the reason for your pending divorce is related to parenting disagreements. In the midst of the hurt and other emotions during this difficult time sometimes even the most devoted and well-intentioned parent can slip up and drag their kids into it. Even after a peaceful split, co-parenting can be frustrating and exhausting.

I know, I know. You know best. I feel the same way. Just ask my husband. Here’s the thing though, you both think you know best and when you refuse to work together to parent, the court will step in and decide for you. Would you rather have a third party tell you how to raise your kids? In a divorce with kids, the court’s primary concern is what is in the best interests of the children. Unless it directly relates to the well being of your child, your desires are always secondary to your children’s needs. Generally speaking, it is in the best interests of your children that both parents be involved in their lives. Of course that is not always the case. Some parents are actually unfit; however, “unfit” is not based on your opinion. Unfitness is determined by the court and without serious justification, a court is not going to deem a parent unfit. Parenting your children is a fundamental right. The court does not take that right away easily and in Arkansas child custody the presumption is that both parents are fit to care for their children.

Here are some tips for co-parenting:

1.  Put your kids needs first. It may be hard to set aside your hurt or anger toward the other parent but for your child’s happiness, security, and overall well being it is important to do so.  It is also important not to talk negatively to your child about their other parent or discuss conflicts in front of your child.

2.  Do not place your child in the middle of a dispute. Talk directly to the other parent. Divorce is hard on your children too and it’s your job to be mature adults and not drag them into conflict with back and forth between the two of you. Your negativity toward the other parent should not affect the relationship between your child and the other parent.

3.  Communicate with each other! Communication is key for a good co-parenting relationship. If you are truly focusing on your kids you will leave your own issues and conflicts out of your co-parenting relationship. Be direct, focus on the child and the issue, and don’t be confrontational in your communications. For instance, don’t say “You need to do x,y,z…”, instead say “Can we consider this or that…”

4.   Create a game plan. You should work together to create general guidelines but your parenting style does not have to be identical. However, the big stuff, like prohibited activities and homework should be consistent. Also, please enforce punishments and consequences given by the other parent. This unity will help you to provide consistency for your child.

Respect, compromise, and communication go a long way and will make a difficult situation easier on you and your children. There are always going to be disagreements; however, stay calm, focus on your children, and don’t sweat the small stuff.

Contact us to create a headache-free parenting plan.

 

 

 

 

Divorce in Arkansas: Things You Need to Stop Fighting About #1- Child Support

Your divorce is looming. Unsolicited advice is being thrown at you from your family, divorced friends, and sometimes random strangers. I’ll be the first to tell you; don’t believe everything other people say about divorce. There is a lot of misinformation out there. Every divorce is different with different sets of issues. What may be perceived as typical of divorce to your friend may not really apply to your divorce. Please, please do not make your decisions based on your friend’s experience. That usually leads to unnecessary complication and fighting. Not to mention, a lot of needless attorneys fees. Here is the first of three things you need to stop fighting about right now.

Fight #1: Child Support

I see so much fighting and negotiation around paying child support. These people typically fall into one of two categories: people who try to avoid it at all costs, even if that means dragging the divorce out for a year by fighting over a Wal-Mart coffee table, and people who will give up everything just to avoid being forced to pay even $25 a week in child support. All rational thinking appears to have gone out the window for fear of the big, bad Office of Child Support Enforcement. Worse even, is that often times your kids are dragged into it all and you start arguing about custody because you will do whatever it takes to avoid child support even if that means becoming the custodial parent, regardless of whether that is really in the best interest of your kids or even a practical arrangement. I will cut you some slack. You are going through a difficult, unfamiliar, and over complicated process. Your emotions are taking over and you are not seeing the big picture. Let me help you. Below is a comparison of what you would spend based on a child support obligation of $520 per month for an average Arkansan's monthly income of approximately $3000 with one child, versus the alternatives.

Monthly Child Support Payment                                                                                 $520 per month

Average Arkansas Attorneys fees at $300 per hour for just 10 additional hours of arguing (which would likely be a gross underestimate of the time spent fighting)                       $3000 per month                                                                               

Amount spent per child for necessities if you are the primary custodial parent (food, clothing, shelter, childcare)                                                                                             $1800 (conservatively)     

Neither you nor the custodial parent can negotiate child support away because even if you aren’t ordered to pay it immediately, child support is a right belonging to your child and that right cannot be waived by either parent. I understand as the non-custodial parent who will be responsible for paying child support that you may be nervous about a government agency telling you what you have to pay and when. A lot of folks honestly believe that the court is out to get them. I know the whole situation really sucks but that is just not the case. Maybe this was based on an unfortunate personal experience with the court and even though that does happen, it’s the exception not the standard. Many of the horror stories that you hear about child support issues have occurred because of a lack of information about the process or miscommunication.

The Arkansas child support chart was created to set minimum guidelines for child support in Arkansas. These guidelines are equally applicable to everyone. Several factors are considered but primarily the court looks to the number of children you have and your income to make the initial determination about how much child support you should pay. I say initial because if circumstances change and you go through the proper channels to update your information, your child support obligation will be updated accordingly. Certain deductions are also allowed, which helps to ensure that the amount you are required to pay does not bankrupt you or create a hardship for you. If you are the non-custodial parent you will likely be ordered to pay child support for your child.

People understandably tend to be defensive when it comes to paying child support because they think the parent they are providing the support to will blow it on themselves. I realize that most of you accept that your children are your responsibility and have no problem taking care of your child. This money is for your child’s benefit and although the court doesn’t have the ability to micromanage how the custodial parent spends that money, it is either directly or indirectly going to support your child. You may be frustrated that the other parent is going out to eat all of the time or buying a fancy new car. Despite your opinions of the custodial parent’s spending habits, it costs a lot to raise a child and the primary custodial parent bears most of the expense. Now I know a lot of non-custodial parents will support their child beyond just the minimum child support required but your state mandated child support obligation alone doesn’t begin to cover even half of the child’s financial needs in most cases. If your child has shelter, clothes, childcare, and is being fed from the same pot of money that that the custodial parent just used to buy that new car, your money is going to your child. Was the purchase reckless or financially irresponsible? Maybe it was but be honest, the most important thing is that your child is being properly cared for.

Is there ever a good reason to argue about child support? Sure. However, more often than not it’s an unnecessary battle that you spend a lot of money and waste a lot of time to lose. Learn how Arkansas Virtual Lawyer advocates for more peaceful divorces here.

 

Updating Your Arkansas Child Support Payments

You are behind on your child support payments and the office of child support enforcement is in hot pursuit. You want to take care of your child. You are doing the best you can. Maybe you lost your job or your hours were reduced significantly. Whatever the case, you just can’t afford to pay for child support in the amount currently required of you. You have options. Don’t just wait until you are ordered to court to show cause why you shouldn’t be held in contempt of your child support obligation.

If you have an open case with the Office of Child Support Enforcement, Arkansas child support laws grant you the right to request a review of your child support order once every 36 months. You may also ask for a review before that time if your gross income has changed to an amount equal to or more than 20% OR if your gross income has changed more than $100 per month. Please note that even though the Office of Child Support Enforcement may assist you in changing an order to reflect the amount you should be paying according to the Arkansas child support chart should you be eligible, the Office of Child Support Enforcement attorney is not your attorney and is not representing you.

It is beneficial to make payments through the Arkansas Child Support Clearinghouse. If you do not have an open child support enforcement case, for instance when you pay child support directly to the custodial parent, the Office of Child Support Enforcement cannot help you. Often times when the arrangement is for payments to be made directly to the custodial parent and a dispute arises because of late payments or miscommunication, the custodial parent hires an attorney to force you to catch up on those payments. It is in your best interest if you are making child support payments directly to the custodial parent that you keep check stubs and receipts to document the payments that you did make in case a dispute arises.

If you do not have an open child support enforcement case with the Office of Child Support Enforcement and need to ask the court to reduce your child support obligation, Arkansas Virtual Lawyer can help you.

Get started here

Twisted Truths About Divorces in Arkansas

Divorce can be really stressful and quite frankly, it sucks. A big stressor is that most people have no idea what is fact or fiction when it comes to the whole overcomplicated process. Of course, when you file for divorce everyone becomes an expert. I am not sure being an expert in divorce is necessarily a good thing but regardless; there is a lot of misinformation out there. We all have that third cousin’s daughter’s neighbor who used to go to church with a divorce attorney in Little Rock and therefore feels competent to advise you. Then there’s the mom from daycare that went through a bitter divorce 3 years ago and every time she sees you she tells you that you can’t get divorced in less than a year and that the Arkansas child support chart is merely a suggestion, just because her divorce was unnecessarily messy.

And Hollywood does us no favors when portraying the real divorce process. We all remember Bill and his high maintenance fiancé chasing Bill’s estranged wife, Jo, (and tornadoes) all over the Midwest in the movie Twister. They apparently needed Jo’s signature on the divorce papers to finalize things. You weather the storm of divorce and get to the end only to run into the roadblock of an uncooperative spouse. Your spouse is holding you and your freedom hostage! Not really. That’s why it’s fiction, folks.

I talk to lots of people who are concerned that their spouse won’t sign anything, just to be difficult. After all, emotions run high in divorce and you guys didn’t get to this point because everything was hakuna matata. Does cooperation make the process go more smoothly? Absolutely. Does his or her difficult self completely prevent you from obtaining a divorce? Absolutely not. In truth, if you file for a divorce in Arkansas, your spouse has 30 days after s/he was served the Arkansas divorce papers to respond by answering your Complaint for Divorce. If your spouse does not respond within that timeframe, s/he loses his/her time to respond and as long as you can prove that s/he was served properly, a judge can order the divorce without your spouse's signature. If your spouse does answer and you move forward with a disputed divorce, the judge can still sign and order a Decree of Divorce to finalize it as the judge sees fit, even if the parties don’t agree. This is yet another reason why Arkansas Virtual Lawyer advocates for peaceful divorces. Why leave it to a third party to decide who gets your stuff or what your child custody arrangement should look like?

Find what you need to know about divorces in Arkansas here.

Online Divorce in Arkansas

It’s the 21st century people. Today alone I binge watched Wrecked on demand, ordered a week’s worth of groceries online for pickup service, and read a blog about a licensed therapist who accepts clients for Skype meetings. Chill, it’s Sunday. I am not playing hooky from work. My point, you ask? With all of this technology, why are law firms still kicking it old school, working among boxes of paper files and not returning your phone call for days? Maybe they are working on their yellow page book ad… Seriously though, using technology improves efficiency and saves you time and money!

A recent justice report ranks the United States 65th in the world for accessibility and affordability of basic legal services. We are tied with third world countries like Botswana, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan, and not far behind Moldova and Nigeria! Surprised? Yeah, I didn’t think so. `

Filing for divorce in Arkansas does NOT have to cost you $375 per hour and you don’t have to rack up massive credit card debt just to hire your divorce attorney or file for bankruptcy after having just been through a divorce. Not only does the old bill by the hour model leave you paying for every piece of paper, stamp, and phone call, it encourages attorneys to take an oppositional approach, promoting disagreement, which in turn drastically increases the cost of your divorce or family law matter.  Plus it makes you hate your cheating ex or baby momma even more than you already did. That is not helpful for you, your spouse, or any kids caught up in the middle of it all.  Did you know that you could hire an affordable family and divorce lawyer in Arkansas for a flat fee and know the cost up front? Well, you can.

We embrace a new approach to providing legal services by handling only what you need and encouraging a peaceful process. We do so by bringing you access from the comfort of your home. No one wants to trek out to a law firm, taking off half of their work day to endure the intimidation and awkwardness of meeting a divorce attorney, disclosing that your husband is at fault because he can’t kick his porn addition and arguing you are a fit parent even though you overslept for school today and the kids ate cosmic brownies on the way. All of this only to learn that you have to come up with at least $2500 just to get the lawyer out of his or her chair. The alternative is even worse. You spend hours Googling “how to file for divorce in Arkansas” or “Arkansas child support” hoping you can find free divorce forms for Arkansas and somehow figure out how to do it all by yourself.  This is the legal equivalent of cutting your own hair or attempting to do all of your own plumbing. The big hole in my kitchen ceiling right now from the upstairs toilet pretty much sums up why that’s a bad idea. Just avoid the symbolic hole and don’t do it.

Serving as modern-day divorce lawyers in Arkansas, Arkansas Virtual Lawyer takes the guesswork out of the legal work. You know what you pay up front; receive personalized advice for your divorce, legal separation, child custody, child support, guardianship, or other family matter; have 24/7 access to a client portal where you can view documents, receive case updates, and message your attorney (we actually respond); and all from the comfort of your home around your schedule.

Ready to cut out the drama and divorce with less hassle? Visit us here to sign up for your free 30 minute phone consult and let us help you divorce with dignity!

How much would you pay in Arkansas child support?

The number one question I get from family law clients is how much is child support in Arkansas? Child support varies based on the number of children that you have and your income. Many parents are fearful when approaching the topic of child support; however, Arkansas child support laws are in place to provide for your child(ren) while taking into consideration your living expenses and ability to pay.

Find out approximately how much support you or your spouse would pay at the link below by scrolling down to "Support Charts and Affidavits" and clicking on the document that most closely represents the frequency of your pay schedule (i.e.- how often you are paid). Then follow the chart to where your income intersects with the number of children you have. That number will represent approximately how much you will pay per pay period in child support. This chart does not take into consideration factors that would decrease your support amount and should be used only for informational purposes. 

https://courts.arkansas.gov/forms-and-publications/arkansas-child-support-guidelines

If your income exceeds the chart limit, contact us for a free child support estimate.

5 Common Family Law myths

When it comes to family law issues, there are a lot of things to consider. There is also a lot of speculation and assumption about what is and is not the law. Here are some of the most common myths I have heard from fellow Arkansans.

MYTH #1: The father of my child and I were never married but his name is on the birth certificate so he is legally the father.

FALSE. There is a presumption that your spouse is the father of your child if the child was born during the marriage. However, if a child was born out of wedlock, paternity is only established by DNA testing or execution of an affidavit acknowledgment paternity by the father. Merely placing the father on the birth certificate does not establish that he is the legal father. This means that he has no legal rights to the child and unless paternity is established by appropriate means, child support cannot be collected from him and other rights of inheritance for the child are not available. Although having the father's name on the birth certificate does not convey paternity, it may be used to aid in the presumption of paternity when trying to prove it is so.

MYTH #2: If my spouse or myself refuses to sign "divorce papers" then we cannot finalize the divorce.

FALSE. There are many documents floated back and forth between spouses and the divorce process can be confusing. I often talk with clients concerned that their spouse won't agree with the divorce or will ignore any papers served upon them just to be spiteful. We probably all remember the husband in the movie Twister chasing an outbreak of tornados with his new girlfriend, risking life and limb to beg his wife to sign the divorce papers. In truth, if you file for a divorce your spouse has 30 days from the day s/he was served the papers to respond by answering your Complaint for Divorce. Should your spouse not respond within that timeframe, s/he loses his or her time to respond and as long as you can prove that s/he was served, a judge can order the divorce without your spouse's signature. If your spouse does answer and you move forward with a contested divorce, the judge can still sign and order a Decree of Divorce finalizing it as s/he sees fit regardless of whether the both of parties agree. 

MYTH #3: My child's other parent is not paying child support on time or as required so that justifies my refusal to allow that parent his or her visitation with the child.

FALSE. Although it may be frustrating and seem unfair, you cannot deny your child's non-custodial parent visitation just because s/he is not paying child support. Just because the other parent is in violation of a court order does not mean that you are relieved from following the provisions ordering you to do or not do things and if you violate the order you can be held in contempt, which could expose you to court sanctions. The best course of action you have is to take the non-custodial parent back to court for non-payment of child support to enforce the order. The only possibly permissible reason to withhold visitation from the non-custodial parent would be if the child was in serious, immediate, and imminent danger. In that case, you should seek an emergency temporary court order based on that issue as soon as possible, pending further evaluation of the matter by the court. This is true for other terms within court orders as well. You may not violate the terms of the court order just because the other party is not complying with the court order. 

MYTH #4: I want to pursue a no fault divorce citing irreconcilable differences or something of that nature. Can I do that?

NO. Arkansas is not a no fault state, meaning that regardless of the reason for the demise of your marriage you will have to prove that one party was at least a little more at fault than the other. The closest grounds for divorce we have in Arkansas are 1) general indignities and 2) separation for eighteen (18) months or more. To obtain a divorce based on general indignities you will have to prove that your spouse presented such indignities upon you to justify a divorce. For the ground of separation, you must have lived separate and apart for at least 18 months. 

MYTH #5: I was recently served with divorce papers and in those papers I received a restraining order. Does this prohibit me from approaching my spouse?

NO. A restraining order by its nature prevents you from performing some act. Although it may be surprising to see a document bearing this title in your domestic relations case, it serves a very important purpose. This type of restraining order prevents marital property from being prematurely removed from the court's authority prior to dissolution of the marriage. When a divorce is filed, the property of the parties, real and personal, falls under the jurisdiction of the court, meaning that everything is essentially frozen until a judge orders disposition of the divorcing parties' property. This includes your house, car, and money to name a few things. This does not mean that these things are not accessible to you it just means that you can not sell, convey, or encumber any such property. You are also prevented from removing, damaging, or destroying any property. This ensures that all martial property remains and can be fairly considered in the equitable division of property rights during the dissolution of marriage, protecting both parties.

 

Pro Se? There's a way!

Why go it alone when you can have an attorney assist you along the way? Expensive legal fees do not have to be a barrier to your legal rights. According to the World Justice Project's latest Rule of Law Index, the U.S. ranks 65th for accessibility and affordability of its civil justice. We are tied with Botswana, Pakistan and Uzebekistan and not far behind Moldova and Nigeria! Those are third world countries people! 

With outrageous statistics like that your options for legal services are limited and out of reach for most Americans but that does not have to be the case.  For example, let's consider your traditional divorce options for the following scenario. You and your husband have decided to get a divorce. Your husband has hired an attorney and you have been served. You don't want to have to go to court and for the most part things are agreeable; however, you do want to make sure you understand your options and protect your rights. Traditionally you have two options:

1) You hire an attorney in a traditional practice, draining your savings and creating an unnecessarily hostile environment between yourself and your spouse.

OR

2) You google "how to get a divorce" and piece together random documents without any guidance as to what documents are needed or whether these documents are even legit. Then you try to figure out how to represent yourself in court, calling the Judge's chambers desperate for help only to discover that the legal assistant is not allowed to give you legal advice. You go to court and are totally unprepared, potentially losing rights to your children or home!

Fortunately, the legal industry is evolving and there are solutions that don't have you filing for bankruptcy or preventing you from seeing your children. The solution is Do It Yourself meets attorney on retainer. The solution is limited scope representation.

Let's revisit this scenario with assistance from Arkansas Virtual Lawyer. You start by setting up a FREE consultation with AVL. AVL evaluates your case and advises you based on your needs. You know up front how much your case will cost and are thrilled to learn that you will only be paying a fraction of the cost you would pay a traditional law firm. An AVL attorney can review or draft your documents and provide advice based on your personal needs and budget. For those tasks that you are responsible for you will receive step by step instructions at no additional costs, helping you to represent yourself informed, prepared, and with money in the bank. AVL is your Splinter, your Mr. Miyagi, your Yoda. Plus you can do this from the convenience of your own home, on your time, and with convenient access to your personal, secure online client portal. From this portal you can pay invoices, send and retrieve documents, message your attorney, and keep up with the status of your case. It's Pro Se the better way!

For more information on our services and practice areas, schedule a free consultation.

Pro Se- advocating on one's own behalf before a court, rather than being represented by a lawyer. 

Filing for Divorce in Arkansas

To file for a divorce in Arkansas you must have lived in Arkansas for at least 60 days before filing and have grounds for divorce. The most commonly used grounds for divorce are "General Indignities" and "separation for 18 months." The grounds must have happened within the last 5 years.

Every divorce starts, legally, with one person filing a complaint, asking the court to grant a divorce decree. The person who files the complaint asking for the divorce is the plaintiff. The person who the divorce is filed against is the defendant. 

Hiring an attorney for a typical divorce in Arkansas can range from around $1,500 to $15,000. Most people can't afford traditional attorney representation, especially during one of the most difficult times of their lives. Those people often opt to try to represent themselves without proper guidance and support, some turning to popular non-lawyer websites, not held to the same ethical standards as attorneys, for legal forms and other help. Even worse some people drain their bank accounts or go into debt paying for a lawyer to represent them. There is a better option: Limited Scope Representation. 

Limited Scope Representation, also known as unbundled legal services, allows legal consumers to retain control of their case and their budget. You decide what aspects of your case you want the attorney to handle and what you can do alone. Services are paid on a flat fee basis so you know the costs up front and there are no surprises. With LSR you get the personalized attorney support you need at a cost that you can afford.