Arkansas Court Records
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What are Arkansas Divorce Records?
Arkansas divorce records are all documents and other forms of media that are filed, recorded or issued, as part of a divorce proceeding in the state. Comprehensive divorce records contain details including the names of the divorced parties, where and when the divorce took place, as well as any other details of the proceedings. According to the United States Census Bureau in 2018, Arkansas was the state with the highest divorce rate, with 13 divorces per 1,000 women above the age of 15.
Marriages in Arkansas may end by divorce or by annulment. A divorce is a legal way to end a marriage, removing all marital ties between the parties. The divorce legally recognizes that a marriage took place and has now ended because one or both parties are no longer interested in the marriage. Arkansas law requires that a person must have lived in the state for at least 60 days, before filing for a divorce.
Arkansas does not recognize no-fault divorces. This means that any party filing for a divorce must prove that the other partner faulted in some way. The following are acceptable grounds for divorce in Arkansas:
- A felony conviction
- Cruel treatment that puts life in danger
- Alcoholism that has lasted for at least a year
- Permanent and incurable insanity
- Inability to have sexual relations
- Any treatment that renders a spouse’s condition intolerable
A party may avoid filing for a fault-based divorce if both parties have lived separately for 18 consecutive months without cohabitation. However, any sexual activity between the spouses nullifies the requirement.
An annulment, on the other hand, ends a marriage and also assumes that the marriage never legally took place. An annulment is granted when the marriage was void right from its solemnization. The following are reasons why a marriage may be annulled:
- One or both parties were under the legal age at the solemnization
- One or both parties could not marry for physical reasons
- One or both parties gave consent fraudulently or under duress
- One or both parties was not mentally capable of consenting to the marriage
A divorce only ends when a judgment is passed, and the court issues a divorce decree. This record is then filed with the Clerk of Circuit Court, and also with the County Clerk. However, the divorced couple may jointly file to annul the divorce decree. Both parties must file in the court that rendered the judgment and if granted, will have their marital obligations restored.
All Arkansas divorces have a minimum waiting period of 30 days. If the divorce is uncontested and both parties agree to dissolve the marriage, the judge may grant the divorce shortly after. However, in a contested divorce, the proceedings could last a lot longer.
Are Divorce Records Public in Arkansas?
According to the Arkansas Vital Statistics Act 20–18–305, divorce records are not public and are only available to a restricted group of eligible persons. However, all divorce records are accessible by the general public after 100 years from the divorce date.
What are the types of Divorce Records available in Arkansas?
Arkansas divorce records consist of a divorce certificate and a divorce decree.
A divorce certificate is a document that contains basic information about a divorce. The divorce certificate is not a court record and is only available from the Arkansas Department of Health. It shows the names of the former spouses, and also includes where and when the divorce took place. The divorce certificate is usually tendered wherever a person needs to prove that their marriage to a particular person is over. This could be when applying for a passport or a name change.
A divorce decree is a more exhaustive divorce record. It contains all the information available on a divorce certificate, and additional details about the divorce. The information may include details of the divorce process and any terms of settlement between both parties. Settlement terms may include financial obligations, distribution of liabilities and assets, child support, and child custody or visitation.
The divorce decree may be used to enforce the settlement terms if one spouse does not meet their obligations. Unlike the divorce certificate, the divorce decree is only available with the Office of the Clerk of County or the Clerk of Circuit Court in the county that granted the divorce.
How Do I Get Divorce Records in Arkansas?
The actions required for obtaining a divorce record differs by document and authority in charge. Divorce certificates are available from the Arkansas Department of Health and are obtainable online, by mail, and in person. All divorce certificates are available for divorces finalized from 1923, and cost $10 per copy. If no record is found, the Arkansas Department of Health will keep the $10 as a search fee.
To request a divorce certificate by mail, download and complete a Divorce Coupon Application with the names of the divorced parties, the date of divorce, the county where the divorce was granted, relationship with the person named on the record, and the reason for the request. The application is also available in Spanish. Note that certificates ordered by mail may take up to 14 days for processing.
Enclose the application with a check or money order made out to Arkansas Department of Health and a copy of a valid government-issued ID. Send the request to:
Arkansas Department of Health
Vital Records, Slot 44
4815 West Markham Street
Little Rock, AR 72205
To request a divorce certificate in person, visit the above address on a weekday (except state holidays), between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Visit with a copy of a valid government-issued ID. Payment options for in-person requests include cash, credit or debit card, and check or money order made out to Arkansas Department of Health.
To request a divorce certificate by phone, call the toll-free line at (866) 209–9482. Payment options include debit or credit card from Mastercard, American Express, Discover, or Visa.
Divorce decrees are only available from the Office of the County Clerk or the Clerk of Circuit Court in the county of divorce. Use the official Arkansas Judiciary Directory to find the address and contact details of all County Clerks and Circuit Clerks in the state.
While divorce and marriage records may be searched through government sources and organizations, the availability of these documents cannot be guaranteed. This is also true of their availability through third-party websites and companies, as these entities are not government-sponsored therefore, record availability may vary further. Also, note that marriage and divorce records are considered extremely private due to the information the records contain, and are often sealed. Hence, bear in mind that these factors determine the availability of any type of marriage or divorce record.
Who Can Obtain Divorce Records in Arkansas?
Divorce records in Arkansas are only available to the persons named on the record, a legal representative, an immediate family member, or a legal guardian. All divorce records, however, become accessible to the general public after 100 years.
Are Arkansas Divorce Records Available Online?
While orders may be requested online, there is no central repository where the records are accessible. However, since some divorce records are court records, some information may be available online as case information.
The Arkansas Administrative Office of the Courts allows access to this information through its Public CourtConnect platform. Cases are available by name, judgment, date, and docket filing. Note that the information available on this platform is limited and may not be a valid representation of the case. Using the Case Type search, select Divorce from the Case Type drop-down menu and select the desired county from the County drop-down menu. Other options to restrict search results include the names of the parties and date of birth.
How Do I Seal My Divorce Records in Arkansas?
The process of sealing divorce records in Arkansas begins with filing a petition with the Circuit Court in the county that granted the divorce. A person may not file a petition to seal a record if a previous petition to seal the same record was filed less than one year before the new request.
Notice shall also be provided to the other party named on the record and any other parties as ordered by the court. Any parties opposing the sealing of the record must notify the court within 30 days after receiving the petition notice. The court may set a hearing date if an opposition is filed, or grant the sealing request if there is no opposition. Although a court may deny the petition at any time, the court may not grant the petition until 90 days have passed since the petition was filed.
If the court grants the request, all petitions, receipts, orders, docket sheets, and any other documents related to the record shall be moved to a confidential area within the clerk’s office, according to AR Code § 16–90–1413 (2014). The docket sheet will be replaced with a new one that contains the docket number, a statement relaying that the record is sealed, and the date the court issued the seal order.