How to Get Divorced in N.C.
If you are contemplating an end to your marriage, you are likely experiencing a range of emotions and have a lot of questions. It’s important to talk to an experienced, knowledgeable, and compassionate North Carolina family law attorney to understand your rights and obligations when considering separation and divorce.
At Teddy, Meekins & Talbert, P.L.L.C., we understand the complexities that come with considering how divorce will affect you and your children. We have found issues involving children are some of the most difficult and heart-wrenching aspects of divorce. We know you want to do what is in your child’s best interest, and we are here to provide our clients with experienced legal counsel to help you through this transition.
Whether you are in Shelby, Rutherfordton, Lincolnton, Gastonia, or a nearby county, our attorneys are here for you. Call Teddy, Meekins & Talbert, P.L.L.C., today at (704) 734-9512 or use our online contact form.
Divorce Lawyers in Shelby, North Carolina: Types of Divorce
Preparing for a divorce is never easy. But having an experienced, knowledgeable, and compassionate lawyer to guide you through the process can help you weigh your legal options and avoid missteps. There is more than one way to obtain a divorce in North Carolina, making it a “hybrid” state for divorce. A knowledgeable divorce lawyer can advise you on what steps to take, based on your circumstances.
No-fault divorce: In North Carolina, either party can apply for a divorce without proving the other party’s conduct is to blame for the dissolution of the marriage. To obtain a no-fault divorce, you must be a resident of the state for at least six months. Secondly, you and your spouse must live apart for one year with the intent of not living together again. After one year of separation, you are eligible to file for a divorce.
Divorce from bed and board: Under North Carolina law, this type of divorce can be sought if one party abandons his or her family, maliciously turns the other out, abuses or endangers the life of the other, use alcohol, or drugs excessively, or commits adultery.
Incurable insanity: In these unfortunate circumstances, a person may seek a divorce if the couple has lived separately for three consecutive years due to one spouse’s mental illness.
Annulment: Unlike what most people think of when they hear this term, annulment in North Carolina is only allowed if:
- Spouses are closer than first cousins or between double first cousins
- One of the spouses is impotent
- Either spouse is younger than 16
- One of the spouses is already married
- One of the spouses is mentally incapable of agreeing to the marriage
NC Divorce Attorney: Divorce and Property Division
When initially moving apart, you may wish to consider a separation agreement spelling out each side’s obligations. Among the things that a separation agreement may address are:
- Division of property
- Payment of debts and obligations
- Post-separation support such as alimony
- Child support
- Visitation Plan
A separation agreement is a voluntary agreement signed by you and your spouse. You should have your lawyer review the agreement before signing it. You are not free to remarry when separated.
Steps for Getting a Divorce in North Carolina
In an ideal world, divorce would be a quick and painless process where both sides agree on what’s best for everyone. However, we know that is rarely the case. Divorces are often contested, and the process can be drawn out as both sides hash out the details of the agreement.
Legal Aid of North Carolina explains the divorce process in three simplified steps:
- Tell the Court: This step includes filing your complaint with the clerk of court, as well as filing a civil summons.
- Tell Your Spouse: You are not the one who actually tells your spouse anything, but in this step, your spouse is “served” with the divorce papers by a third party, such as the sheriff. Your spouse can either sign the papers as-is, making it an uncontested divorce, or file his or her own papers to contest your version of things as outlined in the complaint. In a contested divorce, you may have to go through mediation to resolve disputed issues.
- Tell the World: This is the step where you and your separation attorney go to court and the judge hears the details of your case, including your testimony and — if needed — arguments from both sides. After reviewing all the evidence, including the separation agreement, if you have one, the judge will make a decision and sign your Judgement for Absolute Divorce. Once you have obtained an absolute divorce, you are free to remarry. However, an absolute divorce can be granted without other agreements — such as for child support or division of assets — in place.
Even this simplified version of the steps to getting a divorce can seem complicated, especially when you’re overwhelmed with the emotions that come with such a huge life change and are just trying to adjust to your “new normal.” The compassionate attorneys at Teddy, Meekins & Talbert can take some of the pressure off you by handling the details of your case and preparing you for what to expect in each step of the process.
North Carolina Divorce Attorneys: Get Help Now
We know that divorce takes a toll on the mind, body, and soul. Emotions run high, especially when children, pets, or your family’s home is involved.
Let our North Carolina divorce lawyers at Teddy, Meekins & Talbert, P.L.L.C., guide you through the emotionally charged issues of divorce, child support, and alimony. We offer personalized attention, a broad perspective, and years of experience on family law issues.
We will meet with you and develop a plan that protects your interests and rights if you are ready to end your marriage, and our trial lawyers are ready to fight for you and your rights in court if necessary.
So whether you’re in Shelby, Gastonia, Lincolnton, Rutherfordton, or another nearby county, contact us today by calling (704) 734-9512 or using our online contact form.
How do I know if I’m ready for divorce?
There is nothing wrong with having questions about your marriage. Gathering information is not the same thing as saying, “I want a divorce.” Indeed, blurting out that you want a divorce, without making prior plans, is not a good idea. Only you can decide if you are ready for divorce. You may have tried to work out your differences, but it has not been successful. That’s OK. Prior to doing anything, we think it’s a good idea to speak with an experienced divorce lawyer in Lincolnton NC. You’re not required to follow through or get divorced. In fact, once made aware of legal responsibilities and options, some people decide to stay married.
How do I tell my spouse that I want a divorce?
This is often the hardest part of legal separation and divorce. It might help to sit down with your spouse and explain that you have been thinking about divorce and why. You can talk about your feelings and what you think might be best for you and your family. You can also explain that you would like to talk about the process and what to expect. If your spouse is open to talking, you can try to work out a plan together. If not, you can still proceed with the divorce process. North Carolina is a “no-fault divorce” state. Both parties do not have to agree to get divorced.
How do I start the divorce process?
You’re doing it. You’re gathering information. We think the next thing you need to do is meet with an experienced divorce lawyer. It’s important to know your legal rights and responsibilities. A family law attorney can help in the decision-making process. Each case is different. What’s best for you and your family is likely not the same as other people you may know, like friends or family.
Do I need a lawyer to get divorced?
It’s not required, but we think it’s a very good idea to have legal representation. The divorce process can be complicated and often involves the largest assets of your life. The decisions you make during the process can have a lasting effect on your life and the lives of your family
members. We can help make sure that your rights are protected and that you understand all of your options.
How will our property be divided during the divorce?
In North Carolina, marital property is divided equitably between the parties. Divorce lawyers often refer to that process as Equitable Distribution or ED. This does not necessarily mean that property and assets will be divided evenly, but rather what is fair under the circumstances. Some factors to consider are:
- The length of the marriage
- The incomes and earning capacities of the parties
- The contributions of each party to the acquisition of assets and debt
- The relative needs of each party
- The value of property and debts
Will debt be divided as part of a divorce?
Marital assets and marital debts are very much part of Equitable Distribution. Divorce lawyers in North Carolina may refer to something called the Marital Estate, which includes assets and debts of the parties.
The Court (the Judge) will consider the same Equitable Distribution factors to determine how to divide debt.
Who decides child custody, visitation, and child support?
Custody and vistitation are often the most difficult issues to resolve during a divorce. The best interests of the child are always the primary consideration. Family law attorneys may refer to Best Interests as the “North Star” or “Polar Star.” There are different types of custody in North Carolina: legal and physical. Legal custody generally refers to who makes decisions regarding the child’s welfare, including education, health care, religion, and extracurricular activities. Physical custody refers to where the child will live. The Court possesses a tremendous amount of discretion in determing child custody and visitation in North Carolina and may award joint legal custody, joint physical custody, or sole legal and physical custody to one parent.
How is child support decided?
Child support is an obligation of a parent to provide financial support for his or her child. In North Carolina, child support is calculated using Child Support Guidelines.
The North Carolina Child Support Guidelines consider things such as:
- The income of each parent, if any
- The number of “overnights” each child spends with each parent
- The cost of health insurance for the child or children
- The costs of daycare
- The cost of extracurricular activities