As with many legal matters, divorce can be complicated, and it can be confusing. It is already an overwhelming experience for most people, simply from an emotional perspective – and additional stress caused by worry about the legal process itself can feel overwhelming. Sometimes, simply getting a few answers to frequently asked questions can make a big difference. Let’s take a look at a few of the most frequently asked questions about divorce in North Carolina together:
Does one spouse have to be “at fault” to get divorced in North Carolina?
No. North Carolina is a “no-fault” divorce state. This means that a couple can obtain a divorce for any reason – no particular sort of marital misconduct must have occurred. Marital misconduct may be taken into account by a court when making decisions on issues that arise during the divorce process (issues such as child custody and spousal support, for example), but no misconduct needs to be proven to obtain a divorce.
How long do we have to be separated before we can get a divorce?
In North Carolina, a couple must have lived separately and apart for one year, and at least one party must have resided in North Carolina for six months before filing for divorce.
What if my spouse doesn’t want a divorce?
All that is necessary in North Carolina is for one spouse to want the divorce. As long as at least one spouse has lived in North Carolina for at least six months, and the couple has lived separately and apart for one year, a divorce may be obtained.
How much will a divorce cost?
Each marriage is unique, and as a result, each divorce will be too. As a result, there is no predetermined cost for a divorce – the cost will typically depend upon the number of issues to be resolved, how complicated those issues are, and how willing the parties are to work together. Often, divorce costs can be decreased significantly when couples work cooperatively together toward resolving their issues. It’s also important to consult with any attorney you’re considering hiring before beginning the process to get an understanding of his or her fee structure and billing practices. While it’s not likely that you’ll be able to estimate the exact cost of your divorce, a knowledgeable and experienced attorney should be able to give you a general idea of what costs to expect and plan for.
Can I save money by representing myself instead of hiring an attorney?
This is one way that people often assume they’ll be able to save money in a divorce. In reality, however, representing yourself rarely works out that way. In many cases, those who represent themselves find that they have overlooked some aspect of the process that ultimately costs them more money than they would have spent to simply hire an attorney who knows and understands the law. While there are helpful cost-saving measures that can be taken during the divorce process, choosing to represent oneself is typically not one of them.
How long will the divorce process take?
The length of the divorce process will be different for each couple. As with cost, the length of the divorce process will often depend upon the complexity of the issues involved, and the willingness of the parties to work together toward resolving those issues. In almost all cases, working together cooperatively and effectively will reduce the length of the divorce process and allow everyone to begin moving forward toward the next chapter ahead.
Will I be required to pay support to my spouse after a divorce, or during the divorce process itself?
Alimony, often called “spousal support” is not necessarily guaranteed during the divorce process. In some cases, if both spouses earn close to the same amount, and have the same future earning potential, a court may not award alimony at all. In other cases, however, particularly if one spouse has been a stay-at-home parent, has significantly lower earning potential, or lacks funds to support himself or herself either during the divorce or after, a court may award either temporary or permanent spousal support. A determination of the amount and length of support will be made by a court after consideration of a variety of factors, and consulting with an attorney as to your particular circumstances is always advised.
Will each spouse get half of the marital property after a divorce?
North Carolina is an “equitable division” state. This essentially means that a court will seek to divide the property fairly and equitably, considering all of the circumstances involved. Sometimes, this means an even 50-50 split, while in other cases the distribution may be slightly different, depending upon the factors involved.
How often will I have to go to court during the divorce process?
The answer to this question is, “it depends”. Today, more than ever before, many couples are choosing to resolve most of their divorce issues almost entirely outside of court. There are a variety of alternative dispute resolution options available, including mediation, arbitration, and collaborative law, to name a few. Often, couples can address their issues in a non-traditional setting and resolve most of them by agreement without involving a court, if they so choose. In other cases, however, particularly if the relationship dynamic makes it difficult for the couple to communicate cooperatively and effectively, having a court decide the issues may be the best option.
Can one spouse move away with our children during the divorce process?
No. Custody issues are some of the most important and emotional issues that most couples will face during the divorce process. Understandably, you may want to spend as much time with your children as you can both during, and after the divorce – but it’s also important to remember that your spouse probably wants to do so as well. Never move away with your children before coming to either a custody agreement or receiving a court-ordered custody determination, and be certain to follow any agreements or orders which are in place concerning custody and visitation. Failure to do so could subject you to unwanted legal consequences, and add unnecessary stress for everyone involved.
The Law Office of Dustin McCrary – Here for You
While it can be reassuring to have some basic information about the divorce process, it’s ultimately no substitute for the advice and assistance of a knowledgeable and experienced divorce attorney who truly understands the process, and knows the best legal strategies to pursue on your behalf. You need an attorney who will have your best interests at heart – one who can guide you through this difficult process and toward a better, brighter chapter ahead. At The Law Office of Dustin McCrary, we’re here to do exactly that. Call us any time. We’re here for you.