What are the Considerations of Divorce in North Carolina?

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: ” I’m not getting along with my husband. We’ve been married two weeks and it was a mistake. Can’t I just get an annulment?”


The decision to end your marriage can be a difficult one. Once you know that your marriage is over, you will need to take steps to legally end the union. In North Carolina, a divorce is also called “absolute divorce.” North Carolina allows for no-fault divorce. This means that spouses are no longer able to remain married and the marriage cannot be repaired. Divorce can be complex, especially when you have children or when you have been married a long time. It is helpful to seek guidance from a knowledgeable family law attorney to assist with the process from start to finish.


child-drawing-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-Family-Law-attorney-300x225Criteria for Divorce in North Carolina


In order to obtain a divorce in North Carolina you must meet specific criteria. One or both parties must live in North Carolina and have resided here for at least the last six months before filing for divorce. In order to obtain a divorce, couples must be separated for a period of more than one year. Separated couples cannot live under the same roof. Instead, they must live apart from each other with the intention for it to be permanent. In other words, couples must spend a year apart without reconciliation before a divorce can proceed. You may be able to obtain a divorce in less time under some circumstances, such as a mental health condition.


Equitable Property Division


North Carolina is an equitable property division state. What this means is that your property must be divided in an equitable manner in a divorce. You and your spouse should work out the details of your property division through a settlement before the divorce is final. If you fail to file for equitable distribution you will not be able to change the outcome once the divorce is final. Your attorney will work with your spouse’s attorney to negotiate a fair and equitable settlement to which you can both agree. Property division can become complicated and therefore it is best to speak to your attorney to discuss your finances at the onset of your divorce process.


Spousal Maintenance


Spousal maintenance, also called alimony or spousal support, is money provided from one spouse to the other as part of a divorce order. Whether or not you will receive or have to pay maintenance is based on a number of factors such as the length of the marriage, the age and health of each spouse, the education of each spouse, the employment of spouses, and many others. The goal of maintenance is to ensure that both parties are able to live in the manner to which they have become accustomed during the marriage. Support can be temporary or permanent. If permanent, it is typically in place until the spouse receiving it remarries or lives with a new partner.


Child Custody, Visitation, and Support


Matters regarding minor children are often an area of contention between parties in a divorce. North Carolina allows for both parents to share parenting. Both parents will be able to make decisions on behalf of their children, such as those pertaining to education, health care, and religion. Both parents have the right to spend time with their children, however, children typically live primarily with one parent. The non-custodial parent has regular visitation with the children and generally pays child support. A parenting plan is used to provide both parents with guidelines for how to work out the many issues that come up during parenting. The parenting plan becomes part of the legal order and once in place you cannot change it unless you do so through the court system.


Divorce does not have to be stressful. Although there are many things to iron out during the process, an experienced divorce attorney will make the procedure easier for you and your family. If you are ready to seek a divorce, you can count on us for the support and legal guidance to get you through this difficult time. Get a phone, video or in-person 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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