Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “What does uncontested divorce mean?”
As court proceedings in North Carolina were postponed until June 1, 2020, many North Carolinians are becoming increasingly frustrated about the inability to get divorced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The coronavirus crisis has drawn attention to do-it-yourself divorces in North Carolina. While more people are tempted to turn to DIY divorce during these unprecedented times, trying to get a divorce without an attorney can result in unintended consequences.
1. DIY Divorce Could Leave You with Fewer Assets and More Debt
Contrary to popular belief, a divorce does not guarantee an equal division of your assets and debts. In fact, North Carolina uses the doctrine of equitable distribution when splitting marital assets and joint debt, and equitably does not mean 50/50.
When trying to negotiate property division on your own in a DIY divorce, you may end up with fewer assets and more debt.
2. You May End Up with an Unfair Child Support Award
In North Carolina, child support awards are based on the best interest of the child. However, you may end up receiving less support or, vice versa, paying more than you should if you fail to present your arguments in a convincing manner. While North Carolina’s law allows parents to modify child support, changing the ordered amount of support requires the requesting party to demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances.
3. Dividing Intangibles is Complicated
Splitting intangible assets – or assets that are not physical in nature – can be a daunting task for someone who lacks knowledge about North Carolina’s property distribution laws. Many divorcees overlook intangible assets, including retirement accounts, business goodwill, trademarks, copyright, and others, when splitting their assets in a DIY divorce.
4. You May End Up Filing Incorrect Forms
Divorce laws vary from one state to another. In fact, even each county within a state can set its own specific rules and necessary paperwork for divorce filings. In light of this, the divorce process can be confusing, especially if it is your first time navigating a divorce.
When using DIY divorce packet forms, you may end up missing necessary paperwork, filing incorrect documents, missing deadlines, and making a plethora of other mistakes.
5. Negotiations with Your Spouse May Fail
Most divorcees are not exactly on good terms. If you decided to file for divorce during the COVID-19 pandemic, chances are your soon-to-be-ex-spouse is the last person with whom you want to speak. However, handling a DIY divorce would require you to negotiate with your spouse to work out an agreement or settlement. Negotiations with your spouse without an attorney may be futile, especially if you have multiple disputed issues (e.g., alimony or child custody).
6. You May Still Have to Go to Court
Just because you file DIY divorce papers does not necessarily mean that you will not be required to go to court. For example, if your negotiations reached a dead end because you could not find a mutually beneficial solution, the disputed issues in your DIY divorce will have to be litigated.
So, is a DIY divorce worth it during the COVID-19 pandemic? Not really. Are there any other alternatives to litigation during these unprecedented times? Absolutely. Consider trying collaborative divorce or mediation. Discuss your particular situation with our Charlotte divorce attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, for a consultation. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC, to schedule a consultation. Get a phone or video consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.
The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.
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