Getting Started in Divorce
The entire divorce process begins when you make the decision that a marriage is no longer working. In all honestly, this may be one of the most difficult parts of the process. Coming to the conclusion that a partnership is no longer meeting your needs or the needs of your spouse can be emotionally challenging and can take an enormous amount of reflection and courage. Even when the choice seems “obvious” to friends, family, or outside observers, divorce is a big step and a serious decision. Once you have made that decision for yourself, the legal process of divorcing a spouse can begin.
The divorce lawyers at Marshall & Taylor PLLC are sensitive to your needs and understand that during this time, you need support and compassion. Our legal team prides itself on offering legal advice and a shoulder to lean on. Once the decision has been made, you need immediate legal representation to protect yourself and your family. Contact an experienced North Carolina divorce attorney today by dialing (919) 833-1040 and requesting a legal consultation.
What is Divorce?
Seems like a silly question, but it’s important to fully understand what divorce means and what its legal implications are. Divorce is the dissolving of a marriage, and it typically begins when one spouse files what is known as a “complaint for absolute divorce.” However, before that can happen, both parties must be sure that they meet North Carolina’s divorce eligibility requirements. These requirements state that the couple must be separated for at least one year, and one party must have lived in North Carolina for at least six months before filing. Once the legal paperwork has been served to the other party, that spouse will have 30 days with which to file their response.
Grounds for a Divorce
While a spouse may have a very good idea of what they consider grounds for a divorce, those ideas may not align with the legal grounds for divorce under North Carolina law. Before parties can file for divorce and officially start the process, a spouse must ensure that the grounds for divorce are viable. The state of North Carolina specifically outlines what constitutes these grounds, which include:
- Maliciously turning a spouse out
- Cruel treatment that endangers the life of a spouse
- Indignities to the spouse that render their life intolerable or burdensome
- The excessive use of alcohol or drugs
Types of Divorce- Contested vs. Non-Contested
Divorce typically falls into two different but distinct categories, contested and uncontested. An uncontested divorce means that both parties have already come to an agreement or an understanding about what they each want out of the divorce itself. This means that they are on the same page and agree with major items pertaining to their separation, such as child support, alimony, child custody, and the division of assets. While an uncontested divorce sounds simple and straightforward, an attorney is the best resource to help iron out all the fine details and facilitate the smooth filing of paperwork and court appearances.
On the other hand, a contested divorce means that there are issues between spouses that must be resolved in court. These issues can include differences of opinion in child custody matters, child support payments, alimony payments, and how assets and liabilities are to be divided. Contested divorces tend to be more complicated and complex. Sometimes emotions run high, and there is bad blood between partners, complicating an agreement on major issues. Other times there is a lack of information or communication about the marital situation and which assets or liabilities can and should be divided. These types of divorce proceedings require a deft and experienced attorney who can brainstorm creative solutions and build a solid case outlining why a particular solution is the most viable.
How Long Does a Divorce Take and What is the Process?
Even in the most amicable and best of circumstances, divorce can be an emotional and complicated process. Each case is different and unique, and working out the details, even in an uncontested divorce, can take time and patience. The more complicated the financial situation or family dynamic, the more time it may take to come to a resolution and a final outcome.
In general, this is the timetable for a North Carolina divorce, but again, all situations are different, and all couples have different needs and requirements. To begin, paperwork must be filed seeking a divorce. In North Carolina, this includes filling out a “Domestic Civil Action Cover Sheet” and a “Civil Summons” in addition to the “Complaint for Absolute Divorce.” A copy of this paperwork must be officially served to the spouse. They will then have 30 days from the date of delivery to respond. You are required to wait the full 30 days before moving forward.
The next phase of the process involves scheduling a time with the county clerk for your divorce hearing. Once the date of the hearing is assigned, a copy must be officially served to the spouse at least ten days prior to the date of the hearing. The divorce cannot be finalized until a judge signs off on all of the divorce documents.
The process of divorce can take from several months to several years to finalize, which is why having an attorney working with you is so important. An attorney can protect your rights, file paperwork accurately and on time to avoid stalling the process, and ensure the details that are important to you are being addressed.
Contact Marshall & Taylor PLLC Today for Answers
Divorce may feel like an ending, but this is only the beginning of your next steps. The entire divorce process can take time and patience, things you may be in short supply of during this difficult or emotional time.
At Marshall & Taylor PLLC, we understand that you may have questions about the process and what to expect. We take the time to listen to you, review your situation, and compassionately answer your divorce-related questions. If you need answers and a shoulder to lean on, reach out to the experienced team at Marshall & Taylor PLLC for help. Call us at (919) 833-1040 today.