Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “Do I need an attorney to get a Divorce in North Carolina?”
When you wed you believe that you will have a happy married life. Unfortunately, that is not the case for everyone. Some couples grow apart, and when that happens, you may want to end your union. In North Carolina, there are two main types of divorce. These include divorce from bed and board, and absolute divorce. When you think of divorce, you usually consider the marriage will end, however, that is not always true. Depending on your needs and your beliefs, you may want to obtain a divorce from bed and board. It is helpful to speak to an experienced divorce attorney to ensure that you seek the proper route to end your union.
North Carolina is a state that allows absolute divorce for irreconcilable differences. You do not have to have any specific grounds for absolute divorce other than you and your spouse are no longer able to live as a married couple. The law requires couples seeking absolute divorce to live apart for a period of one year prior to divorce. Divorce from bed and board is an option that is more akin to legal separation. Divorce from bed and board allows you and your spouse to work through the settlement issues of divorce, however, you will not be legally divorced. You will not be able to remarry unless you seek an absolute divorce.
Why Might I Consider Divorce From Bed and Board?
There are some reasons why a spouse may prefer to seek a divorce from bed and board rather than an absolute divorce. If you are going to live apart and want to ensure that you and your spouse are no longer responsible for joint debts and assets, you may need to get a divorce from bed and board. If your spouse will not agree to a legal separation, you may want to choose divorce from bed and board. Some couples do not want to legally divorce for religious or personal reasons.
A divorce from bed and board protects your finances and settles the many issues that are necessary when couples no longer live together. Settlement issues include such things as distribution of assets and debts, child custody and support matters, alimony, and more. Divorce from bed and board does not preclude you from obtaining an absolute divorce at a later time. In fact, it could make the divorce process much easier. A divorce from bed and board could establish marital misconduct, which might be useful when determining some of the settlement terms of a divorce.
Obtaining Divorce From Bed and Board
Unlike an absolute divorce, divorce from bed and board is based on fault. There are a variety of reasons or grounds that you may choose from to obtain a divorce from bed and board. North Carolina law defines six grounds for divorce from bed and board including:
- Maliciously turns the other out
- Cruel treatment that endangers life
- Intolerable indignities
- Excessive drug or alcohol use
A spouse who is the victim of such behavior in a marriage may file for divorce for one of these reasons. It is important to note that the egregious behavior must have occurred within the previous six months prior to filing for divorce. A divorce from bed and board is considered a legal separation in which the judge will make a final decision.
There are cases in which a divorce from bed and board is a good choice for one reason or another. 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 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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