Getting Divorced in North Carolina
Facing divorce can feel overwhelming, and navigating the legal landscape can be confusing. If you plan to get a divorce in North Carolina, our divorce attorneys have included some things you should consider.
First, North Carolina has a one-year rule. Unlike many other states, North Carolina requires a one-year separation period before you can file for an absolute divorce. This gives you and your spouse time to reflect, explore reconciliation, and work out an agreement (if possible) on key issues like property division, child custody, and alimony. If you are on friendly terms, you may be able to take these steps on your own, otherwise you may each wish to hire a divorce attorney to represent your interests while working out an agreement.
Once the separation period is over, either spouse can initiate the divorce by filing a complaint with the clerk of court in the county where you or your spouse reside. Remember, the process can be complex, so consulting with an experienced divorce attorney is advised.
Key Issues to Consider:
- Property Division: North Carolina follows a principle of equitable distribution, meaning assets and debts acquired during the marriage are divided fairly, not necessarily equally. A separation agreement outlining the division can save time and conflict.
- Child Custody: Your children’s well-being is paramount. The court’s goal is to prioritize your child’s best interests when determining custody arrangements, considering factors like each parent’s parenting skills, the child’s preferences (for older children), and any history of abuse or neglect. That said, the judge does not know you or your spouse, so these decisions are made based on evidence presented in the custody hearing(s). If both parents are unable to work out a friendly agreement, it may be in your best interest to hire a divorce lawyer to assist.
- Child Support: The non-custodial parent usually pays child support to help cover the children’s needs. North Carolina has child support guidelines based on income and other factors.
- Alimony: Depending on your financial circumstances and the length of the marriage, alimony (spousal support) may be awarded to a financially dependent spouse.
Divorce can be a challenging, emotional journey. Remember, you don’t have to walk it alone. An experienced family law attorney can guide you through the process, ensuring your rights are protected and your future is navigated with clarity and compassion.
Remember: Every divorce is unique. This information provides a general overview of the process in North Carolina, but professional legal guidance is essential for navigating the complexities and securing the best possible outcome for you and your family.