Raleigh Contested Divorce Lawyers
If you’re filing for a contested divorce in North Carolina, you should contact Marshall & Taylor PLLC immediately. We can guide you through the complicated process and help you fight to protect your rights.
A divorce is often an emotionally-charged issue for everyone involved. If one spouse doesn’t want to get a divorce or both parties can’t agree on matters, such as child support and property division, it can become a contentious situation. Contested divorces aren’t as common as uncontested divorces. However, when they arise, they can significantly affect your life.
Spending months or years battling with your spouse in a courtroom can take a financial and psychological toll. Fortunately, you can seek legal representation from one of the experienced and knowledgeable Raleigh divorce lawyers of Marshall & Taylor PLLC. We will tirelessly work to meet your needs and try to reach your desired result.
No-Fault Law in North Carolina
North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state. That means you don’t have to prove misconduct occurred, such as adultery, to get divorced in the state. However, you must meet these requirements to proceed with a divorce:
- At least one person has resided in North Carolina for six months before beginning the process of divorce
- You and your spouse have lived apart for at least twelve consecutive months in separate residences
Even if someone disputes the divorce, the other party can move forward as long as the circumstances meet these requirements.
How to File for Divorce in North Carolina
Once someone decides they want a divorce, the first step typically involves hiring a divorce attorney. Your attorney can assist you with each step, such as reviewing whether you meet the requirements and drafting legal documents.
Your lawyer can file the paperwork with the appropriate court on your behalf to begin divorce proceedings. A copy of these documents will also go to your spouse and their attorney. Once they receive the divorce papers, your spouse will have thirty days to file their response in court.
Common Issues in Contested Divorces
A contested divorce simply means a divorcing couple can’t agree on specific issues. The court typically needs to become involved and resolve these legal matters for the involved parties.
The most common contested issues during a divorce include:
A judge might encourage you to try to reach an agreement on these issues yourself before moving forward with a judgment. You could potentially resolve the dispute by meeting with your spouse and both of your lawyers in mediation.
Mediation involves a mediator acting as a go-between to facilitate a mutually beneficial arrangement for opposing parties. If the mediator can help you resolve your disputed issue, you could avoid taking the case to court for a judge to decide for you.
North Carolina law bases property division on equitable distribution of divisible and marital property between divorcing spouses.
Marital property is all real and personal property one or both spouses acquired while married but before the date of separation and that they currently own. Examples include:
- Contributions to a pension, 401(k), or another retirement plan
- Checking and savings accounts
- Real estate
- Motor vehicles
- Life insurance policies
- Salary, commissions, and other income from employment
Divisible property is all personal and real property, such as:
- Passive increases and decreases in financing charges and marital debt and interest associated with any marital debt
- Appreciation and diminution in the divisible and marital property value after the date of separation but before the date of distribution, except appreciation or diminution in value resulting from a spouse’s actions not treated as divisible or post-separation activities
- Passive income from marital property received after the date of separation, such as dividends and interest
- Property, property rights, or any portion acquired by either spouse’s efforts while still married but before the date of separation and received after separating but before the distribution date
Equitable distribution doesn’t always mean a 50/50 split. What’s most equitable will depend on various factors. Sometimes, an unequal division of property is most fair based on the circumstances. Other times, one spouse might keep one asset in exchange for another.
Child custody is one of the most common contested parts of a divorce. If both parties can’t agree on where their child should reside and a visitation schedule for the non-custodial parent, they need to involve the court.
Judges typically want both parents to remain in the child’s life unless extenuating circumstances indicate one is an unfit parent.
Common factors courts use to determine custody arrangements that will meet the best interests and welfare of the child include:
- The child’s preference about which parent they want to live with
- Child’s age
- Each parent’s ability to provide the child with a safe and stable living environment
- The child’s health and educational needs
- The amount of time both parents can spend with their child
Each parent has a responsibility to provide for their children. The non-custodial parent, the parent who doesn’t live with the child, typically pays child support.
Payments depend on guidelines outlined in North Carolina statute § 50-13.4, such as:
- Each parent’s expenses
- Custodial arrangement
- Income of each parent
- Health insurance premiums
- Number of children shared by the divorcing couple
- Previous child support payments
Spousal support, also referred to as alimony, is financial support paid to one spouse by the other. When both parties can’t agree to the terms of spousal support through a separation agreement, the court must decide.
Factors the judge might consider to decide whether one of you owes alimony to your spouse include:
- Ability to pay
- Duration of the marriage
- Contributions made by each spouse
- Whether marital misconduct occurred
- Debts and income of each person
Alimony can continue for a specified number of years or until a specific event occurs, such as the one receiving payments moving in with or marrying someone else.
Divorcing someone you planned on spending the rest of your life with is an emotional and overwhelming experience. If you find yourself facing an uphill battle and can’t seem to agree on spousal support, child custody, or another issue during the proceedings, you will need a skilled and dedicated Raleigh contested divorce lawyer to help you and your spouse finalize the terms.