In North Carolina, you may often hear the term “absolute divorce.” Understandably, legal terms can be confusing – you may wonder, what is an absolute divorce? Is every divorce an absolute divorce? In North Carolina, the term “absolute” divorce simply means the official termination of the marriage bond that you formed when you had your wedding ceremony and obtained your marriage certificate. In North Carolina, an absolute divorce can be granted on one of two grounds: one year’s separation and at least six month’s residency in the state of North Carolina according to the requirements of North Carolina law or incurable insanity.
You can read more about the details of absolute divorce here, but it can also be helpful simply to understand a bit about the divorce process itself. How do you get the process started? What does it usually involve? What should you expect? These are all important and reasonable questions to ask. After all, as with so many things in life, there is peace of mind to be found in knowing what you can expect. Of course, no two divorces are the same, just like no two marriages are the same, so the details will be slightly different for each couple.
Generally, however, here are a few things to know about the divorce process in North Carolina:
- Finding the right divorce attorney is essential: If you have decided upon divorce, there is truly no more important step you can take to ensure that the process goes smoothly than this one. Getting a divorce is a big decision – one that will likely impact your family’s life in many ways. When making such a decision, it’s important to seek guidance and representation from an attorney who truly knows and understands the complexities of the law, and how it will apply to your particular circumstances. Sometimes, when people decide to proceed with divorce, they think that representing themselves might be a good way to save money. In fact, however, the opposite often turns out to be true. Those who choose to represent themselves often overlook an important aspect of the process or fail to assert rights they didn’t realize they had, mistakes that often end up costing them more in the long run. Finding an attorney who can represent your best interests effectively is well worth it. Be sure to take the time to thoroughly research and meet with potential attorneys to ensure that you find one who is a good fit for you.
- You don’t have to have “grounds” for a divorce: North Carolina, like most states in the country, is now a “no-fault” divorce state. That means that neither spouse needs to provide a specific reason or evidence of any particular marital misconduct to get a divorce. You can get a divorce for any reason, provided you have lived separate and apart with no intent of reuniting for at least a year, and provided that one spouse has been a resident of North Carolina for at least six months before filing.
- Being organized and will help tremendously: Most divorces involve many issues that must be resolved as a process moves along. When it comes to resolving those issues, you can make the process go much more smoothly by being as organized and open about the issues you’ll need to address as possible. Gather important documents like insurance policies, bank, credit card, and investment account statements, titles, deeds, business records, and other important documents. Have that information ready and available for your attorney to review. Be honest and upfront with your spouse and his or her attorney about things like assets and debts. Doing anything else will only slow the process down and make it more time-consuming, tedious, and expensive for everyone involved. You’ll save time and money and avoid stress by taking these helpful steps ahead of time.
- Know what to expect about the basics of the process itself: Of course, every divorce will be slightly different, but generally, all divorces follow a similar process:
- You’ll need to live separate and apart for one year without the intention of getting back together.
- One spouse will need to have been a resident of North Carolina for at least six months prior to filing.
- If you’ve met these conditions, you should contact a qualified and experienced divorce attorney who will file the necessary papers requesting a divorce in the appropriate courtroom and county where you reside.
- Your spouse will be “served” with papers, and the divorce will process officially be underway.
- The parties will exchange what is often known as “discovery” – important information and documentation that will be necessary to resolve the issues in the divorce.
- The parties will attempt to resolve the issues involved in their divorce, ideally through a cooperative method like mediation, collaborative law, or lawyer-led settlement negotiations.
- If the parties are unable to resolve their issues outside of court, hearings before the court may be necessary.
- The issues between the parties are resolved either through court order or through an out-of-court agreement entered into by the parties.
- The official divorce decree is entered and the divorce is finalized.
Certainly, each divorce will be unique in its own way, but having a basic understanding of the general process can provide much-needed peace of mind.
- Remember that there will be more than one way to resolve your issues: Often, when people picture divorce, they envision something similar to what is often shown on television legal dramas – two spouses, each with their aggressive, antagonistic attorneys, battling contentiously in the courtroom over every issue. While some divorces are like this, the good news is that most aren’t. In fact, today, more than ever before, many couples are choosing to resolve their divorce issues entirely outside of a courtroom. There are a variety of methods of alternative dispute resolution – collaborative law, mediation, and arbitration to name only a few – that allow couples more freedom and flexibility to work through their issues in a more informal setting. Talking with a potential divorce attorney about these options, and his or her experience with those options will be very important and helpful as you think about what your ideal divorce process might look like.
- Commit to working cooperatively and openly with your spouse: This step may be difficult, particularly depending upon the circumstances that led to your divorce. Most people don’t decide to divorce easily, and emotions can be running very high. If at all possible, however, it is best to try to put those emotions aside and work together toward resolving your issues in a way that works for everyone involved. Be willing to be open-minded and to see the other person’s point of view. Consider the importance of compromising – not on the matters that are most important to you, but on more minor issues that really may not be that important in the long run. Doing so will ultimately be far less expensive and stressful than battling over every issue in a courtroom, and it will allow you to begin moving forward with your future more quickly.
Call The Law Office of Dustin McCrary Today
Even when you feel prepared and confident that the decision to get divorced is the best one for your family, divorce can be difficult. It can feel overwhelming – but it doesn’t have to be. At The Law Office of Dustin McCrary, we’re here to make a stressful process go more smoothly – to help you through this difficult time, and on toward a better and brighter chapter ahead. We would be honored to have the opportunity to do so, and we encourage you to call us at any time. We look forward to helping you soon.