Getting a divorce can be really complicated, and if you have minor children, even more so. The stress, the process, and the fights can all be quite overwhelming. But understanding how the divorce process works step by step can make things a little easier for couples and significantly reduce anxiety.
In this article, we will discuss all you need to know to get a divorce in North Carolina
Some things to consider before filing for a divorce
North Carolina offers a no-fault divorce option, which means that neither spouse has to prove the reasons for their divorce.
To file for divorce in North Carolina, you must be a resident of the state for at least 6 months.
Also, you do not need to use a lawyer for the proceedings if you have an uncontested divorce. Instead, you can rely on online divorce services to get your divorce papers done.
Step 1: You will need to live separately first
One crucial factor in getting an absolute divorce
in North Carolina is that you and your spouse should have lived separately for at least a year and a day BEFORE filing for your divorce. If you reconcile during that time, this then resets the separation time, and the process will need to start all over again should you choose to separate again at a later stage.
You do not need a legal document to prove that you have been living separately for a year, but it is always wise to have something in writing. You could have a signed agreement between you and your spouse showing that you are separated and have it notarized.
Some grounds for separation are:
Physical Abuse (cruel and barbaric treatment)
Or another reason that makes life unbearable for the spouses.
While separated, you cant remarry someone, but you can decide on things like:
Division of assets
Step 2: File a divorce complaint
After a year of separation, you can then file a divorce complaint with the clerk of court in your county. You could use an online divorce service to prepare the divorce papers to make the process easier.
Before you do this, you will need to make sure that you have taken the correct steps to protect your interests, such as:
Decide on child custody, alimony, child maintenance, and how to divide any property, debts, and assets that you might have.
You will need a claim of equitable distribution before your divorce judgment.
You will also need to assert an alimony claim before your divorce judgment. If you do not do this, then you forfeit your right to do so.
Think about what you will need for your future and current needs as a single person, and understand the legal implications of what you decide.
When you file a divorce complaint, you can either do so yourself or allow an attorney to do it for you.
These are also other forms that you will need:
Domestic Civil Action Cover Sheet
Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Affidavit
The courts will require you to pay a filing fee at the time of filing. If you cant afford the fee, you can apply for a Petition to proceed as an indigent. If a judge approves your request, the filing fee will be waived.
Step 3: Serve your spouse
You will then need to serve your spouse with copies of the divorce papers. You can use a professional server, the county sheriff, or anyone over the age of 18. Also, certified mail can be used to serve the divorce notice. The important thing is that you will need to complete a proof of service form to show the court that your spouse is aware of the divorce.
In North Carolina, the courts also impose a 30 day waiting period for a hearing after serving your spouse.
Step 4: Use a mediator if you can
If you and your spouse think you can end your marriage amicably, but some unresolved issues remain, you might just need a mediator to help you.
assists couples to reach an amicable arrangement quickly to avoid a divorce trial. This means that you wont have to have a lengthy court battle, saving you tons of money on your divorce proceedings.
Step 5: Final hearing
Once all your paperwork has been filed properly and you and your spouse have reached an amicable agreement, you will need to schedule your final hearing. The judge will listen to each spouse at the hearing and decide if their settlement agreement is fair for each partner.
Therefore its always wise to have issues resolved before going to court, as this will ensure a speedy and hassle-free process. If all your documents have already been completed, the judge will only have to sign your divorce decree.
Some forms that you will need for this last process are:
A Judgment for Absolute Divorce
A Certificate for Absolute Divorce
A Separation Agreement and Property Settlement Contract
A Parenting Plan
Once the judge signs your order, you and your spouse will then be legally divorced. This also means that you will be free to remarry if you choose.
The process of divorce could be simple and take less time if you have an uncontested divorce.
If you are unsure of anything, always ask an attorney for help. Whatever you decide on today could affect your future. Always take your time and think things through clearly.
Hopefully, this step-by-step guide has helped answer some questions and set the process in order.