Frequently Asked Questions

ALERT!  The Arkansas Legislature has enacted legislation wherein JOINT CUSTODY of children is now prefered in Divorces.  The Supreme Court has also recently ruled that this standard should also be applied in Paternity Cases where custody of the child has not been litigated.  These are ground breaking laws and decisions that can greatly alter the landscape of child custody cases.  Contact us if you have specific questions in this regard.

Q:  How long does it take to obtain a divorce in Arkansas?

A:  A divorce can be granted no sooner than thirty (30) days from the date a Complaint for Divorce is filed.

Q:  How long must I be a resident of Arkansas before I can file for Divorce?

A:  Sixty (60) days.

Q:  How much does it cost to get an uncontested divorce?

A:  As a general rule, prices between attorneys vary.  The Fry Law Firm charges between $600.00 and $ 750.00 for a simple uncontested divorce.  An uncontested divorce is defined as a divorce where both the husband and wife agree to the terms of the divorce, involves no service of process fees, and the non-contesting party signs off on all paperwork.

Q:  How much does a contested divorce cost?

A:  Contested divorces can cost as little as $ 750.00 up to $ 10,000.00 or more.  Every case is different, but when parties began to fight over the custody of their children, costs can skyrocket.  It is rarely in either parties best interest to fight over custody, because often times, not only do the children get dragged in to the middle of the custody dispute, but legal fees can get out of control.  There are of course times where parties simply can not agree on what is in the best interests of their children, and the judge has to make the ultimate decision on custody.

 Q:  Do the courts favor a mother over a father when deciding on which party to award custody to the children?

A:  I would be lying if I said this was not the case.  Lady Justice is supposed to be blind, but I have handled cases in front of more than twenty-five (25) different judges in both Arkansas and Oklahoma, and more often than not, the Court's would lean toward the mother when awarding custody to one or the other.  This is more prevalent when the children invovled are under the age of five (5) years of age.  When the children are older, gender of the parties plays a much less important factor.

Q:  Why do courts favor a mother in custody disputes involving young children?

A:  In most cases, the mother is the parent providing for the primary care of young children.  She often times will be the parent that is not working (often due to the pregnancy), and stays at home raising the child(ren) while the father is working to support the family financially.  This oftentimes leads judges to believe that the children may be bonded more closely to their mother than their father.  Furthermore, just based upon their gender, women tend to be more nurturing then men because the child(ren) was carried in the womb of the mother for nine months before the birth of the child, and the emotional bond for women tends to be stronger than that of men.  This, of course, is a broad generalization established by much research we will not get into in this Q & A.  Gender rolls, however, have been trending in another direction in recent years due to the fact that more women are now obtaining more higher education degrees than men.  More women are now coming out of college and populating the professional workforce.  In addition, these better educated women are taking higher paying jobs and working longer hours.  Statistics show that men are actually beginning to spend more time at home with the children while mom brings home the bacon, literally and figuratively.  These are general trends only.  Each divorce is decided on a case by case basis.  Judges are required by law first to decided child custody cases by determining first "what is in the best interest of the children."  As part an parcel of this process, the Courts are supposed to treat these decisions without considered the genders of the parties.

Q:  At what age do children get to decide which parent they want to live with?

A:  Arkansas has no bright line test when answering this question.  My rule of thumb that I use in most cases is that the Court will allow a child to state his or her preference on which parent  to live with when the child is ten (10) years of age or order so long as the child demonstrates sufficient maturity and understanding of the circumstances to make and intelligent decision regarding his or her own best interests.  In other words, if the child is intelligent, making good grades in school, is respectful to his parents, then the Court will give more weight to the child's wishes.  If the child is playing the parents against each other, not doing his school work, and trying to go with the parent that does not want to discipline the child, most judges can see through this behavior and will give little weight to the child's wishes.  Once again, these are just general trends.  It is pretty much a given that in an original divorce proceeding, if a child is fourteen (14) years of age or older, the Court will let that child choose which parent he wants to live with assuming the parents are both "fit" parents.  Obviously, the ultimate decision is that of the judge to determine what is in the best interests of the child(ren).