The term “family law” is an all-inclusive term covering all issues related to divorce, as well as other family legal matters.
Below you’ll find a list of family law practice areas that our Raleigh law firm assists clients with. If you need information on absolute divorce or simple divorce, please read on below the list to find a discussion of divorce in North Carolina.
What is Absolute Divorce?
Absolute divorce is the legal termination of a marriage. In North Carolina, a couple gets divorced through a civil litigation process by filing a Complaint for Absolute Divorce and the entry of a judgment for divorce.
Please note that it is absolutely essential to resolve all of your claims for property division (equitable distribution) and alimony before obtaining a divorce. In most cases, the entry of a divorce judgment means you will be unable to revise those claims in the future.
It is always the best to at least consult with an experienced divorce lawyer prior to filing for divorce. Doing so ensures that your interests are protected from the very beginning.
The Process For Divorce in NC
The actual process of obtaining a divorce in North Carolina is relatively simple. But if it is not done exactly right, some issues may arise that can cause significant problems.
All of the standard rules of North Carolina Civil Procedure shall apply.
North Carolina requires a party seeking a divorce to prepare and file 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.
After filing, the Divorce Complaint must be served upon the Defendant pursuant to Rule 4 of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure.
Proving Separation for Divorce in North Carolina
North Carolina requires no “proof” beyond a verified or sworn statement making the required allegations which are usually made in the divorce complaint.
There is a misconception among many that one must have some sort of proof establishing a “legal separation date,” but that is not the case. 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 in fact 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. In that event, the court will hear evidence and decide based on the greater weight of the evidence.
The other party may file an answer admitting or denying the allegations. If they do not file an answer, the allegations are admitted. A hearing must still be calendared and noticed appropriately and if everything is in order, the judge will grant your divorce. Attorneys often 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.
How Does Divorce Effect You?
Understanding a divorce isn’t always easy. In addition to the emotional toll, the legal proceedings are often overwhelming. That’s where the attorneys at The Doyle Law Group come in. We help you understand every step in the divorce process.
Prior to having your divorce approved, you must file all pending claims for:
- Post Separation Support
- Equitable Distribution, or an
- Order or Separation Agreement
Failure to fully resolve these issues the divorce is granted will forever waive your right to dispute those issues in Court.
If you have a valid Separation Agreement and Property Settlement, you can file an action based upon that agreement after a divorce if the other party violates its terms. If that agreement does not provide for a final resolution of support and property division, then you will be left without a remedy in divorce law.
What Should You Do Before Filing for Divorce?
We recommend seeking legal advice from a divorce lawyer before filing for divorce. In some cases, an unexpected filing may also cause your spouse to file counterclaims for Equitable Distribution and Alimony.
Contact The Doyle Law Group, a family law firm in Raleigh, by calling (919) 301-8843 or by completing the form below.
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