- GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE
- The courts are only allowed to grant a divorce for the following causes:
- 1. Impotency: It includes both
the inability or unwillingness to have sex.
- 2. Convicted Felon
- 3. Adultery: Party must have sexual
intercourse. Adultery may be proven by circumstantial evidence, but
party must prove that the party has an inclination and an opportunity
(must prove more than a mere chance).
- 4. No-Fault (18-months separation)
- 5. Insanity: Party must be shown to
be incurable and institutionalized for a period of three (3) years.
- 6. General Indignities: This is
the most commonly used grounds.
- 7. Habitual Drunkenness: Must
last for a period of at least one (1) year.
- 8. Cruel and Barbarous Treatment:
Origonally, was applied to mean physical violence, but was broadened to
mental cruelty which manifests itself physically. It is judged by
the affect on the person and not a reasonable person standard. The
conduct must not be provoked and must be for a duration (i.e., not an
Desertion or abandonment is no longer a ground in
Arkansas. However, if a party is not within the state and has not been
heard from or about and is not otherwise known to be living for a period of five
years, then the spouse may be presumed dead. A subsequent marriage would
then be valid. This is not the same as a divorce, and leaves some legal
questions open to attack. See A.C.A. Section 9-11-108.
- Defenses to a Divorce Action:
- 1. Recrimination: Both parties are guilty of marital
misconduct that would be grounds for divorce so a neither will be granted
a divorce. Most states allow any ground to be offset by any ground;
however, Arkansas requires that the marital misconduct must mirror each
other. Also, recrimination is not a defense once a spouse has been
- 2. Connivance: The party that is guilty of the marital
misconduct does so with the consent of the other spouse. The consent
must be knowing and overt. Failing to act in response to marital
misconduct is not consent.
- 3. Condonation: There is a resumption of marital
cohabitation after marital misconduct so that it can be implied that there
is forgiveness of the guilty spouse by the innocent spouse. There
must be full knowledge of the marital misconduct. Also, an act of
sex equals forgiveness.
- 4. Collusion: The parties have agreed to
manufacture the grounds for a divorce. This is fraud on the court.
These defenses do not apply to a no-fault (18 month separation)
divorce. However, parties must live in separate residences for the entire
18 month period and must not engage in sexual activity with one another or the
time period must begin anew.
ARKANSAS CODE OF 1987
TITLE 9. FAMILY LAW
SUBTITLE 2. DOMESTIC RELATIONS
CHAPTER 12. DIVORCE AND ANNULMENT
SUBCHAPTER 3. ACTIONS FOR DIVORCE OR ALIMONY
Arkansas Code Annotated Section
9-12-301: Grounds for divorce.
The chancery court shall have power to dissolve
and set aside a marriage contract, not only from bed and board, but from the
bonds of matrimony, for the following causes:
(1) Where either party, at the time of the contract, was and still is
(3) Where either party shall be convicted of a felony or other infamous
(4) Where either party shall be addicted to
habitual drunkenness for one (1) year, shall be guilty of such cruel and
barbarous treatment as to endanger the life of the other, or shall offer such
indignities to the person of the other as shall render his or her condition
(5) Where either party shall have committed adultery subsequent to the
(6) Where husband and wife have lived separate and apart from each
other for eighteen continuous months, without cohabitation, the court shall
grant an absolute decree of divorce at the suit of either party, whether the
separation was the voluntary act of one party or by the mutual consent of both
parties or due to the fault of either party or both parties;
(7)(A) In all cases where a husband and wife have lived separate and
apart for three consecutive years, without cohabitation, by reason of the
incurable insanity of one of them, the court shall grant a decree of absolute
divorce upon the petition of the sane spouse if the proof shows that the
insane spouse has been committed to an institution for the care and treatment
of the insane for three (3) or more years prior to the filing of the suit,
been adjudged to be of unsound mind by a court of competent jurisdiction, and
has not been discharged from such adjudication by such court and the proof of
insanity is supported by the evidence of two (2) reputable physicians familiar
with the mental condition of the spouse, one of whom shall be a regularly
practicing physician in the community wherein such spouse resided and, where
the insane spouse has been confined in an institution for the care and
treatment of the insane, that the proof in the case is supported by the
evidence of the superintendent or one of the physicians of the institution
wherein the insane spouse has been confined;
(B) In all decrees granted under this
subdivision (7), the court shall require the plaintiff to provide for the care
and maintenance of the insane defendant so long as he or she may live. The
trial court will retain jurisdiction of the parties and the cause, from term
to term, for the purpose of making such further orders as equity may require
to enforce the provisions of the decree requiring plaintiff to furnish funds
for such care and maintenance;
(C) Service of process upon an insane
spouse shall be had by service of process upon the duly appointed, qualified,
and acting guardian of the insane spouse or upon a duly appointed guardian ad
litem for the insane spouse, and where the insane spouse is confined in an
institution for the care of the insane, upon the superintendent or physician
in charge of the institution wherein the insane spouse is at the time
confined. However, where the insane spouse is not confined in an institution,
service of process upon the duly appointed, qualified, and acting guardian of
the insane spouse, or duly appointed guardian ad litem and thereafter personal
service or constructive service on an insane defendant by publication of
warning order for four (4) weeks shall be sufficient;
(8) Where either spouse legally obligated to support the other, and
having the ability to provide the other with the common necessaries of life,
willfully fails to do so.
Arkansas Code Annotated Section
(a) In uncontested divorce suits,
corroboration of plaintiff's grounds for divorce shall not be necessary or
(b) In contested suits, corroboration of the injured party's grounds
may be expressly waived in writing by the other spouse.
(c)(1) This section does not apply to proof as to residence, which must
be corroborated, and does not apply to proof of separation and continuity of
separation without cohabitation, which must be corroborated.
(2) In uncontested cases, proof as to residence
and proof of separation and continuity of separation without cohabitation may
be corroborated by either oral testimony or verified affidavit of persons
other than the parties.
Arkansas Code Annotated Section
9-12-308: Effect of collusion, consent, or equal guilt of parties.
If it appears to the court that the adultery or
other offense complained of has been occasioned by the collusion of the
parties or done with an intent to procure a divorce, that the complainant was
consenting thereto, or that both parties have been guilty of the adultery or
such other offense or injury complained of in the complaint, then no divorce
shall be granted or decreed.
Last Updated: April 28, 2001