Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “Do I need an attorney to get a Divorce in North Carolina?”
The decision to end your marriage is one that is not taken lightly. In most cases, you and your spouse have been experiencing problems for some time and have been working unsuccessfully to resolve them. When you finally decide to divorce, you likely have many questions and concerns about the process and what to expect.
Is There a Separation Requirement?
North Carolina is one of the few states that requires separation prior to divorce. Couples must live apart for a period of at least one year before they can obtain a divorce. You do not have to be legally separated, but you must live apart in different residences. If you reconcile during the year, even for a brief time, the one year requirement starts over. In addition to living separate and apart, at least one person must have resided in North Carolina for the six months immediately prior to seeking a divorce.
What are the Grounds for Divorce in North Carolina?
North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state. You may seek a divorce after having met the one-year separation requirement. You can also request a divorce due to the incurable insanity of your spouse. In that case, you will need to live separately and apart for three years and show proof of insanity.
What Happens if My Spouse Does Not Want a Divorce?
Sometimes, one spouse wants a divorce and the other does not. This is called a contested divorce. The law allows a couple to obtain a divorce after a separation period of one year. The law does not require the consent of both parties as long as you fulfill the separation and resident requirements. Therefore, it is possible to proceed with a divorce once you properly live apart.
How Do We Divide Property?
In North Carolina, property is to be distributed in an equitable manner in a divorce. Equitable distribution means that the court will divide marital property and assets in a way that is fair to both parties. Generally, couples will split assets 50-50. However, each situation is different and there are some factors that could make a difference. Couples should agree to a fair settlement which the court will approve.
How are Child Support and Visitation Determined?
Barring any unusual circumstances, both parents are entitled to spend time with their children and both are responsible for their care. Courts typically order shared parenting. The children usually live primarily with one parent while the other parent has regular visitation. Use a parenting plan to provide rules for custody and visitation. Keep in mind that the court will always act in the best interest of the child. The non-custodial parent typically pays child support based on factors such as income, number of children, and more.
Do I Need an Attorney to Get a Divorce?
There is no requirement to have an attorney for a divorce. However, in most situations, there are many complicated issues that you have to sort through and iron out in the process. In most cases, it is advisable to seek legal representation. Your attorney will handle all the details and guide the case for a divorce that is as stress-free as possible.
Knowing more about the divorce process can make it easier and less stressful. It also helps to choose a compassionate divorce attorney with experience to help you through this difficult time.
Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC at (704) 370-2828 for a consultation.
The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes four 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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