What Should I Do if I Was Served With Divorce Papers?

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: ” I’m considering separating from my spouse; what actions should I refrain from doing?”


Going through a divorce is decidedly one of the most stressful situations you and your family can go through. In North Carolina, couples can request a no-fault divorce. A no-fault divorce means that the couple know they are no longer compatible and the marriage has no chance of being saved. No blame is placed on either party. With any divorce, one person must initiate the process by filing a divorce complaint with the court. The party that initiates the divorce is called the complainant and the other party is the respondent.


boy-at-mail-slot-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-Divorce-Lawyer-225x300Separation Before Divorce


One of the criteria for filing for divorce in North Carolina is that the couple must live apart for a period of at least one year. This period should be sufficient to know whether they want to reconcile or end the marriage. If the couple reconciles during that period and again lives together, the period must begin again if they later decide to pursue a divorce. Separation means living apart. A couple cannot continue to live under the same roof during the separation period, regardless of whether they no longer consider themselves a couple.


Divorce Papers


When a person files for divorce, the other party must be served with legal documents. As the respondent, you have a requirement to provide an answer. If you do not agree with the divorce, you have the right to contest it. You can agree to a divorce but may not be in agreement with the terms of the settlement. Both parties will have the same rights once the papers are filed. Both you and your spouse will have time to work through the details of the divorce settlement that includes a variety of topics such as distribution of assets and debts, parenting responsibilities, child visitation, and spousal maintenance. Your attorney will be instrumental in guiding the process.


Obtaining Legal Counsel


Although an attorney is not a requirement for divorce, it is strongly recommended that you retain legal counsel. An experienced divorce attorney will assist you throughout the process and will help ensure that the divorce proceeds smoothly. Further, your lawyer will make sure that your rights are protected and that you get a fair and equitable settlement. An attorney will help make the entire process easier and less stressful. You will also be assured that you will not overlook any issues that could cause an unfavorable result. The best time to seek legal help is at the onset of the process, although you can hire a lawyer at any time.


The divorce process can be an emotional and stressful time for you and your family. If you have been served with divorce papers, do not delay in talking to an attorney. Your lawyer will answer your questions and assist you throughout the process for a resolution that is best for you and your loved ones. Contact Arnold and Smith PLLC today for legal insight and support. 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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