How to Plan a Divorce in North Carolina | Steps to Take
Nobody thinks about divorce when they decide to get married. This is justifiably so because nobody wants their marriage to go down that road. But unfortunately, when it does, they are left stranded, unsure of what steps to take to get through it quickly.
If you reside in North Carolina and want to apply for divorce, we can help you with a few crucial steps to ease the process for you.
How are divorces in North Carolina different from other states?
Divorce laws in North Carolina can be confusing when facing them for the first time. Hence before pursuing a divorce, we advise you to understand its details properly.
For starters, per divorce laws in NC, one has to reside in North Carolina for 6 months and live separated from your partner for 12 months consecutively. Only then will you be eligible for filing a divorce in NC. That is all the more reason to be sure that divorce is the only way ahead. There is also a fee of $225 for filing a divorce in NC. Filing fees can be waived if you can prove that your financial situation doesn’t allow you to afford the fee.
What are the grounds for divorce in NC?
The state of NC supports no-fault divorce cases. This implies that you only need to fulfill the requirements of living separately for a year to be eligible for filing for divorce. The state will not ask you to submit any reason for asking for a divorce. However, in some limited cases, the fault matters to some extent. These instances are called divorces from bed and board. These cases require a court-ordered separation before finalizing the actual divorce. Judges will consider bed and board divorces in the following six situations.
- Intolerable humiliation
- Cruel and fatal treatment
- Substance abuse instances
- Forced residential departure
Steps to follow before getting a divorce
- Try saving your marriage.
If your marriage wasn’t associated with marital violence and drug abuse, and if there’s a chance that you want it to work, then try saving it before leaping into a divorce. If you feel that all hope is lost for your marriage, getting professional help might turn things around. Divorce counseling has helped many couples regain faith in their marriage and get past their troubles. It helps you to identify what really went wrong and exactly how to gather the bits and move ahead. Even if your spouse isn’t ready to participate, you should go ahead and seek professional help.
- Consult an attorney
If your marriage is well past salvation and divorce is the only way forward, you need to get a consultation for that. Consulting an attorney doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have to hire them to manage your divorce. You might opt for an online divorce. But before you split-up with your spouse, we advise you to consult an attorney and get as much information as you can. The NC divorce laws are quite complex, and in distress can prove to be a lot to handle alone. Any misstep might cause adverse effects on your online divorce outcome in the long run.
- Consult a lawyer in case of Affairs
We do advocate for full honesty and truthfulness in a relationship. But if you have involved yourself in an extramarital affair, then honesty might not be the preeminent guiding principle for you. North Carolina regards adultery as illegal. Hence admitting to having an affair could be synonymous with pleading guilty to a crime. This might result in terrible consequences in the dissolution of marriage in North Carolina. Moreover, if your spouse is an eligible alimony candidate, then any illicit behavior from you would prove to be very costly. You could end up paying thousands in alimony payments.
- Safeguard all assets
Your spouse might be leaving you, but you will be better off keeping your assets to yourself. You can only ensure that by safeguarding your assets, especially the ones that matter to you. One way to do that would be by taking possession of such assets during separation. This could include your vehicles, your furniture, valuable gems and collectibles, bearer bonds, etc. Before filing a divorce in NC, you can also file a Lis Pendens in the Deeds Office. It provides notice to third parties about your claim for showing importance in real estate and serves as a notice for pending litigation affecting real property.
- Consider a separation agreement.
During the entire separation process, you can opt to enter into a separation agreement with your spouse for settling complex matters. This would include issues such as asset or property division, alimony, child custody, and support. It is usually done early on in the process, often before even filing for divorce. If a couple cannot reach an agreement on all issues, they can opt to use mediation. Mediation is when the couple works with a neutral third party to reach an acceptable compromise. Any settlement agreement must be signed and notarized to be accepted by the court.
How to go ahead with the divorce procedure?
- One party has to file a divorce complaint with the court clerk at the respective county. Your attorney can also perform this step on your behalf.
- The Sheriff’s office will serve up the respective divorce complaint to the other spouse’s home.
- If you believe that the divorce will be settled amicably, you will have the opportunity to submit a settlement agreement or, if necessary, work with a mediator. The court may also order mediation in your case. Mediation is the best option if you and your spouse need to work through some issue, as it is less time-consuming than an open-court trial.
- If mediation fails, you will proceed to a court trial. The court proceedings start with discovery, where each party will try to gather information about the other’s case. This includes financial and legal depositions as well.
- Then at the trial, both sides will present their case. After deliberation, the judge will issue his or her ruling.