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Additional Divorce Services
To help you understand family law in North Carolina, we're sharing some insight into what you need to know prior to filing for divorce, what you can expect, and how to move forward.
What is Absolute Divorce?
Absolute divorce is the legal termination of a marriage. In North Carolina, a couple files a Complaint for Absolute Divorce and the entry of a judgment for divorce. During this time, before the marriage is dissolved, the two spouses must either resolve or have a judgement in place in all matters and claims of property division (equitable distribution) and alimony before the divorce is finalized. Once a judge signs off on the divorce and the marriage is dissolved, you can’t go back and claim property or alimony.
Even if there is no property to separate or any kind of child support or spousal support, and both parties simply want to go their separate ways, it’s still important to consult with an experienced divorce attorney prior to filing to ensure your rights are protected and the paperwork is filed properly.
Common Questions Related to Family Law and Divorce
What Does Getting Divorced in North Carolina Mean?
North Carolina requires a party seeking a divorce to prepare and file (or have an attorney file on their behalf) a Complaint for Absolute Divorce, accompanied by a Civil Summons and any other locally required filings, such as cover sheets.
In the Complaint, the Plaintiff or moving party must allege:
- They were married on a certain date;
- Are still married;
- Have been separated for at least twelve months with at least one party intending that separation to be permanent;
- The parties have not at any time since the date of separation resumed the marital relationship;
- Name any minor children born to the marriage, including dates of birth;
In other words, you and your spouse must have been separated for at least 12 months and one day, and at least one of you must have intended the separation to be permanent. You must also allege that you remained separated and did not resume the “marital relationship” during the 12 month separation period.
Other technical language (such as allegation of jurisdiction, status of parties, prayer for relief, etc) is required or advisable, however the aforementioned statements are the core of the divorce complaint. One must also make certain to file the documents in the appropriate state and county. In Raleigh, you will file with Wake County. See N.C.G.S § 50-8 for additional information.
Is Proofing Separation for Divorce Required in North Carolina?
North Carolina requires no “proof” beyond a verified or sworn statement making the required allegations which are included in the divorce complaint. Only if the other party disputes the accusations, then additional evidence may be necessary to convince the court that your allegation of the date of separation is correct.
This rarely happens, but on occasion, one party will file an Answer to the Divorce Complaint claiming the separation date was false or that they had resumed the marital relationship at some point during the separation period, while the other party may admit or deny those allegations. In that event, the court will hear evidence and decide based on the greater weight of the evidence.
A hearing for the divorce finalization will be placed on a court calendar and both parties will be made aware of the date. Assuming everything is in order, the judge will grant the divorce. Often, your divorce attorney will make use of Motions for Summary Judgment or Divorce before the clerk in order to spare their client a trip to court. If you are representing yourself, you will have to appear and testify in your divorce case as to the basic elements you alleged.
Finally, a judgment ordering your divorce must be signed and filed by the judge. A certificate of divorce will also be prepared and filed for the record.
Family Law Matters to Settle with a Divorce
Prior to finalizing the divorce, the following family law claims must be finalized: