Deciding that your marriage is over can be difficult. The divorce process in North Carolina can be complex, especially when child support, child custody, spousal support and property division are part of the divorce petition. This is why the advice of an experienced family law attorney can be quite valuable.
Either you or your spouse must be a resident of North Carolina for six months before filing for divorce. The divorce may be filed in the county where either spouses lives. Where you and your spouse were married does not matter.
There are two grounds for divorce in North Carolina. The first is that the couple has been separated for a year. This means that you and your spouse have to have lived in separate residences and that at least one of you has the intent to remain apart and separate. The second grounds for divorce is for incurable insanity suffered by a spouse and a three-year separation.
An uncontested divorce may be filed in North Carolina when both parties agree on all areas of the divorce or if the respondent does not sign the divorce papers or file an answer to the divorce petition. When this occurs, the petitioner can ask the judge to grant the divorce.
A contested divorce occurs when the couple cannot agree on the terms of the divorce. The respondent can file papers with the court in which he or she can lay out the reasons why he or she does not agree. There will be a series of hearings held in which the couple must sort out their differences or the judge will ultimately decide.
In many cases, property division and alimony are determined in a legal separation agreement. These areas of the divorce must be finished before a divorce in North Carolina can be granted. Child support and child custody are also determined before the divorce is granted. In many cases, one spouse must ask the court to determine child support and custody issues during the period of separation. This means that the custodial parent does not need to wait a year to begin receiving child support, for the division of property or alimony payments.
As you can see, the process of divorce in North Carolina is time-consuming and complex. This is why it is advisable to seek the advice of a family law attorney. You have rights during your separation and during the divorce process, as do your children. While filing for divorce by yourself is allowed, the consequences of mistakes can be high and long-lasting.
While divorce may be common, when you go through it yourself, you still deserve dedicated, personal focus on your rights and unique situation. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you figure out the best way forward, explain the law, and represent you in court if it is ever necessary. Take the first step now and contact a local divorce attorney to discuss your divorce.