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Divorce in North Carolina

The North Carolina Divorce Process

Legal coaching is a newer form of legal help that provides you, the client, with the tools and information you need to successfully handle filing a divorce on your own. Rather than paying an hourly fee for an attorney to file paperwork or represent you in court, legal coaching prepares you to complete these legal tasks on your own.

Filing for 'Absolute Divorce'

North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state. This means that parties who wish to dissolve their marriage can file a claim for absolute divorce, which is a legal action limited to the divorce itself. Other claims, such as property division, spousal support, and child custody or support, are not included in an absolute divorce.

To file for divorce, one party must pay the filing fee and file a complaint, summons, Domestic Civil Action Cover Sheet, and military affidavit. The non-filing spouse must be served with a copy of the summons and complaint, after which they will have thirty days to respond. Service of these documents can be made through the sheriff or by certified mail with proof of delivery. One spouse hand-delivering the documents to the other is not considered valid service. However, in some circumstances a notarized Acceptance of Service is permissible.

If you have any claims for alimony or property distribution, these actions must be filed with the divorce claim. In North Carolina, once the absolute divorce is final, both parties are barred from filing any claims for alimony or property division forever. This means that failure to assert these claims as part of the divorce may result in continued property sharing and joint debt, as property and outstanding debt that is in both parties’ names will remain shared regardless of the divorce. Child custody and support claims can be filed at any time.

Though there are forms that allow individuals to file to divorce themselves, it is recommended that you consult an attorney to ensure you protect your rights and properly assert any claims you have now to avoid losing the opportunity.

Requirements for Divorce in North Carolina

North Carolina law requires you be separated for one year before a couple may file for divorce. This means that the couple must live separate and apart for twelve consecutive months with at least one party intending the separation to be permanent before they can file for divorce. Though it is not a requirement, many couples enter a separation agreement to manage financial responsibilities, property division, and make child support and custody arrangements. This separation agreement can then be included with the divorce action.

Any perceived reconciliation during separation will restart the clock. Additionally, at least one party must have lived in North Carolina for at least six months before filing for divorce for the state court to have jurisdiction over the case. Divorce can also be granted based on incurable insanity after a three-year separation and with medical proof of a spouse’s insanity.

Parties do not have to agree to the divorce. If the separation and residence requirements are met, and both parties were properly served notice of the pending divorce, a divorce can be granted even if one party refuses to sign or file any documents. They are not even required to appear in court for the hearing.

Because North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state, parties are not required to prove any kind of misconduct or other reason for ending the marriage. However, these things will be considered in actions for spousal support, child custody, etc.

In North Carolina you can file for divorce only after living separately for one year. You do not need anything on paper in order to be considered "legally separated," you just need to live in separate addresses. The first night that you are sleeping in separate places is when the clock begins to toll towards your one-year mark. I can help you with the paperwork for filing an Absolute Divorce, whether it is by coaching you to do it yourself or by filing it for you, whichever you prefer. If you and your partner are in agreement about how to divide things up, I can help you draft and sign a Separation Agreement and Property Settlement prior to filing your divorce. There is no need to go to court, which is always good for everyone involved.

In North Carolina you can file for divorce only after living separately for one year. You do not need anything on paper in order to be considered "legally separated," you just need to live in separate addresses. The first night that you are sleeping in separate places is when the clock begins to toll towards your one-year mark. I can help you with the paperwork for filing an Absolute Divorce, whether it is by coaching you to do it yourself or by filing it for you, whichever you prefer. If you and your partner are in agreement about how to divide things up, I can help you draft and sign a Separation Agreement and Property Settlement prior to filing your divorce. There is no need to go to court, which is always good for everyone involved.

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How We Can Help

Though having an attorney is not a legal requirement for divorce, it may be in your best interest. As your attorney, I will provide advice, make recommendations based on experience, and advocate on your behalf to ensure you get the outcome you want and ensure your rights are protected every step of the way.

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