If you and your spouse have made the choice to divorce, most likely, you’re looking for the easiest, fastest, and least expensive option. A quick Google search leads to a bunch of ads promising a quick online divorce you can do yourself – but is it really that easy? Our divorce attorneys in Raleigh are breaking down the pitfalls that can come from a DIY divorce and why you need an attorney looking out for you.
Is Online Divorce Legal?
One question we’re asked is if online divorce is legal, and the simple answer to this is yes. You pay for a packet of paperwork that you need to file in order to get a divorce, then you print out the packet, fill it out, and file it at your county courthouse. Sounds easy, right? On the surface, it is.
Until you have a question about filing. Or you make a mistake and the court doesn’t accept the documents. Or your spouse decides to contest property distribution. It doesn’t take long for an easy process to turn into a drawn out, expensive legal nightmare.
Should You Choose an Online Divorce?
It’s important to note that online divorce forms can only be used when the other party is not contesting the divorce. Even if it’s an amicable divorce, an online divorce should still only be considered if:
- There are no shared assets or debts, such as a house, car, or credit card debt
- There are no children involved that are minors
- The marriage was less than a few years long
- There is no need for any mediation or negotiation
- Neither party seeks spousal support
Even in the case that all the above are met, an online divorce can still be complicated and put you in a difficult spot if there are issues with filing or your packet isn’t applicable to North Carolina divorce laws.
How Absolute Divorce Works in North Carolina
In North Carolina, the legal dissolution of a marriage is called absolute divorce, or more commonly, simple divorce. Basically, it means that in the eyes of the law, two people are no longer married and are free to go their separate ways. Prior to the divorce decree being finalized, the couple must meet the following guidelines:
- Living separately for one year and one day
- At least one party must have been a resident of North Carolina for six months
- File a Complaint for Absolute Divorce Domestic Civil Action Cover Sheet, and Civil Summons
- Ensure the other spouse has been served with divorce papers
Once these actions are complete, a hearing will be scheduled in which the plaintiff will go before the judge to affirm the information in the paperwork, including that they have been separated from their spouse for at least a full year without resuming the marital relationship in any way. Assuming everything is properly completed, the other spouse isn’t trying to contest the Complaint, and all issues of child custody are completed, the judge will rule and finalize the divorce. It will be filed with the county, and you’ll receive documentation showing your marriage has been dissolved.
To learn more about the process, be sure to read our Guide to Divorce in North Carolina.
Why Work with an Attorney for a Simple Divorce?
When the divorcing couple doesn’t require litigation or contest to the proceedings, an amicable divorce can be very cut and dried. So, why would you need an attorney?
Protect Your Rights
Once the divorce is finalized, you can’t go back and claim equitable property distribution or spousal support. If you have concerns or would like to pursue these things, having a divorce attorney to advocate for you before finalizing can lead to a more favorable outcome.
While a simple divorce is the quickest option, if there are mistakes in the filing process or you aren’t separated for the complete length of time, this can set the process back quite a bit. Working with a lawyer who can explain the process, double-check all the paperwork, and file on your behalf will ensure the quickest time frame for your divorce.
If both parties agree to the divorce and there’s no need to litigate, your attorney can file a Motion for Summary Judgement or Divorces that means neither party has to go to court for the hearing. This can save you time and provide a more convenient option.
Schedule a Consultation with Our Raleigh Divorce Lawyers
If you are considering an online divorce, before you take that step, schedule a consultation with our divorce attorneys in Raleigh. We can help you determine the right path for ending your marriage with ease, grace, and dignity. To learn more, reach out to us today (919) 296-1906 or complete the form below to learn more and schedule your no-obligation consultation.
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