Divorce and Family Law

Benton Divorce Attorney

Call us to get the legal help you need.  Benton Divorce Attorney Gregg Knutson works hard to protect clients’ rights in divorce, legal separation, and child custody cases.  We also handle guardianships, adoptions, and other family law matters. For a free, confidential consultation, call (501)224-2928. Before signing a divorce decree, be sure to talk to an experienced attorney to make sure you are getting what you deserve.  As a Benton divorce lawyer, we know what it takes to get the results you want.

Grounds for Divorce

In Arkansas, parties are required to prove grounds for divorce. Grounds include general indignities, adultery, habitual drunkenness, domestic violence (cruelty), conviction of a felony, and separation for eighteen months. Knutson Law Firm is prepared to fight for your rights and require the opposing party to prove their grounds for divorce.

Division of Property

Division of marital property can be a complicated issue in divorce cases. All property acquired by either party during the marriage is marital property, and is subject to division by the court. The only exceptions are property that was received by gift or inheritance, a workers’ compensation claim, personal injury claim, or a social security claim for permanent disability or future medical expenses. Retirement accounts are usually subject to division, if contributions were made to the account during the marriage. 401k plans, IRAs, SIMPLE IRAs, SEP plans, and military retirement plans are all subject to complicated rules for division, and an attorney can help you evaluate your options.

Support and Custody

Knutson Law Firm is prepared to fight for our client’s rights when it comes to child support, child custody, and spousal support.  Arkansas courts are generally required to set child support using the Arkansas Child Support Guidelines.  Custody decisions always hinge on the best interests of the child.

An experienced attorney can help identify facts that will help the court make an informed decision, and protect the best interests of the child.  In Arkansas, the courts are increasingly choosing to award joint custody.  Until 2013, joint custody was disfavored.  In 2013, the Arkansas legislature passed a new law that states that joint custody is favored.  Under the law as it currently exists, an award of joint custody is a very real possibility in Arkansas.

Spousal support is most often awarded in situations where one spouse has not worked for a substantial period of time, and the other spouse has the ability to pay.

Process of Filing for a Divorce

The general process of filing a divorce is started by the filing of a Complaint for Divorce.  The circuit clerk will issue a Summons.  These documents must be served upon the opposing party.  Acceptable ways of service include certified mail, personal delivery, or service by warning order.  After service, the opposing party has thirty days to respond to the Complaint. All plaintiffs must wait thirty days after filing before the divorce can be granted, except for cases alleging continuous separation for eighteen months.

What are Interrogatories, Requests for Production, and Depositions?

If there are complex issues involving custody, support, visitation, or division of property, an attorney will often send written questions to the opposing party called “interrogatories and requests for production of documents”. The court rules require these written questions to be answered, under oath, within thirty days after receipt. Failure to respond to interrogatories and requests for production can damage your case, and you should provide thorough answers to your attorney, along with all of the requesred documents. An attorney may also schedule a deposition to ask the other spouse (or other witnesses) questions about their expected testimony. A deposition is conducted in front of a court reporter, who types a transcript of the deposition to be used later at trial or during settlement discussions.

Temporary Hearing

A temporary hearing is frequently needed early in the divorce case to address temporary issues involving custody, support, visitation, payment of marital debts, and possession of marital property while the case is pending. Since even a routine divorce case can last several months, the parties are entitled to appear before the judge and obtain some preliminary decisions regarding these issues. For example, if one spouse is refusing to allow visitation to the other spouse, a judge can conduct a temporary hearing in which he can set up provisions for temporary custody, temporary visitation , and child support that must be followed until the final hearing. Before a temporary hearing, the parties are required to exchange an Affidavit of Financial Means, which will be used by the court in setting child support. In some cases, a temporary order can be negotiated between the parties without a hearing.

Final Divorce Hearing

At the final hearing, the judge will hear testimony from the parties and any witnesses that are necessary to corroborate grounds, residency, or other contested issues.  Expert witnesses may be necessary in cases involving complex financial valuations, medical conditions, or psychological evaluations.  If the court determines that sufficient grounds exist to grant the divorce, the judge will announce their decision.  The decision by the judge will include provisions concerning child custody, child support, visitation, division of property, marital debts, and spousal support.

To avoid the uncertainty of trial, an experienced attorney will frequently suggest ideas for settlement. In some cases, settlement is not possible, and an experienced family law attorney can guide the client through the litigation process.  Because divorce law can be complicated, be sure to contact an attorney for help before signing a Decree or otherwise waiving your rights. An attorney can help advise you whether a settlement offer is in your best interests, or whether you would be better served by going to trial. Many clients simply want to “get out” of a bad marriage, without thinking about the long term consequences of the provisions in a Decree. Be sure to contact Knutson Law Firm at (501)224-2928 to schedule an appointment to evaluate your case.