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Who Should File for Divorce First?

file for divorce first

Getting a divorce is a difficult decision that only leads to more decisions. One decision you and your soon-to-be-former spouse will have to make is who should file for divorce first. Does it matter who files first? The answer is probably simpler than you think.

Who Should File For Divorce First?

Some people believe that by filing first, they’ll have a “leg up” on their former spouse. This isn’t true. For most couples, it does not matter who files for divorce first.

Like everything, however, there are exceptions to this rule.

When Filing First Matters

North Carolina is a no-fault state, meaning that you do not have to give a reason for wanting a divorce. But if there is a reason for divorce, filing first may be beneficial. These reasons include:

  • Abandonment by your spouse
  • Domestic abuse/cruel treatment
  • Substance abuse by your spouse
  • Adultery
  • Forced departure from your residence

If you are the victim in one of these scenarios, filing first is in your best interest. These circumstances will result in a divorce from bed and board, which, despite the name, is not a divorce, but a legal, court-ordered separation. When this filing is made, the at-fault spouse may lose some of their rights, including estate rights.

Divorcing in North Carolina

As we mentioned, unless you are a victim of the circumstances listed above, you do not need to worry about who files for divorce first. To get a divorce in North Carolina, you simply need to meet the following criteria:

  1. You and your spouse must have lived separately with no intent to reconcile for at least 12 months.
  2. At least one of you must have lived in North Carolina for at least 6 months.

If you have met these requirements, you or your spouse may file for divorce with the clerk of courts in your county. It’s important to note that NC does not require a legal separation (divorce from bed and board) unless you find yourself in one of the aforementioned situations.

Take the Guesswork Out of Filing With an Experienced Divorce Attorney

If you are going through a divorce, an experienced divorce attorney can guide you through the process and make sure your needs are met. Call our office at (919) 301-8843 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.

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