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    Division of Property and Debt in an Arkansas Divorce

         When contemplating divorce, one of your first concerns may be how the property will be split between you and your spouse. The first step in the process of property division is to identify your marital property and your separate property. Your separate property is property you acquired before marriage, as a gift, or inheritance. Likewise, your spouse has separate property. You each keep your separate property. Marital property is all other property that either you or your spouse own. Only marital property is subject to division in a divorce proceeding.


         In Arkansas, all marital property is distributed one-half (1/2) to each party unless the Court finds such a division to be inequitable. The circuit court judge presiding over your case can consider factors such as the length of your marriage, your employability, and your spouse's employability in reaching a decision that a one-half (1/2) split of marital property is inequitable. However, in practice, it’s unlikely that you will be awarded anything but a one-half (1/2) share of the marital estate.


         Marital debts, on the other hand, are not necessarily divided equally in a divorce. There is no presumption under Arkansas law that an equal division of marital debts must occur. If the circuit court judge finds that you have the ability to pay the debts without materially changing your lifestyle, you may be awarded more debt than your spouse, and vice versa. The circuit court judge presiding over your case is also able to consider whether one of you should equitably be required to pay for the debt depending on who acquired the debt and for what purpose indebted funds were used.