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“David Teddy and his team are outstanding!!! WORTH EVERY PENNY!”- Nicholas D.
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What Is a Contested Divorce Under North Carolina Law?
A divorce becomes contested when the separating spouses cannot agree to its terms. It could be that one spouse does not want to get divorced at all, or the spouses want to end their marriage but cannot agree on issues like child custody, alimony, or how to divide the shared property.
When a couple cannot agree on the terms of a divorce, it is up to the court system to resolve whatever issues are holding up the proceedings. That could mean having the spouses and their attorneys meet with a third-party mediator, or it may be necessary for a judge to rule on the issues the spouses disagree on, like the custody arrangement.
Regardless of how these issues are resolved, having an experienced attorney on your side is crucial for protecting your rights and your future.
“Ralph is the epitome of what a lawyer should be.” - Melinda R.
“David Teddy and his team are outstanding!!! WORTH EVERY PENNY!” - Nicholas D.
“Daniel Talbert is a top-notch attorney... he has a never-give-up approach even when things look bleak.” - Roger T.
“David Teddy was more than worth the money... he actually took the time to listen.” - Rosslyn S.
While you understandably may want your divorce finalized as soon as possible, you should not sacrifice your rights or agree to the terms if you believe they are unfair. Some reasons to contest a divorce in North Carolina include the following:
- Making sure you receive the share of marital assets that you deserve
- Fighting for a fair custody arrangement if you have shared children
- Ensuring that the terms of any alimony and child support payments are acceptable
- Protecting any assets that were not shared with your spouse
- Dividing whatever debts and savings you and your spouse share fairly
Before divorce proceedings begin, you should understand the requirements for getting a divorce in North Carolina. Under North Carolina law, there are only two ways to obtain an “absolute divorce” rather than separation or annulment:
- A no-fault divorce is the most common type of divorce proceeding. It requires you and your spouse to live separately for at least one year. Once enough time has passed, either spouse can file a divorce petition with the family court in the appropriate county.
- Incurable insanity is the other ground for an absolute divorce in North Carolina. It requires you to live apart from your spouse for at least three years due to their mental health condition. This proceeding is extremely rare, and other criteria must be met before an absolute divorce on the grounds of incurable insanity will be granted.
To initiate divorce proceedings, you must prepare and file a divorce petition with the appropriate family court. Then, your spouse will have the opportunity to respond. Because this process can be time-consuming and your spouse’s response might be contentious, it is best to hire an experienced attorney to handle your case.
A contested divorce lawyer can help you by:
- Preparing and filing your divorce petition, or drafting and filing your response if your spouse is the one who files for divorce
- Collecting information for your case that will be important in discussions about child custody, child support payments, alimony, and property distribution
- Attending court hearings with you or on your behalf
- Negotiating the terms of your divorce with your spouse and their lawyer
- Preparing to make your case to the judge if negotiations fail and you and your spouse cannot agree on the terms of your divorce
Common Issues During Contested Divorce Mediation
Some of the common issues that come up during contested divorces in North Carolina include:
- Child custody – Child custody disputes can quickly get heated and emotional, especially when spouses cannot agree on legal and physical custody, which involves certain rights and responsibilities.
- Child support – Child support payments are often contentious, especially if one parent attempts to minimize or conceal income to pay less to the other parent. The guidelines for calculating child support in North Carolina consider variables such as each party’s income, daycare expenses, and the child’s living arrangements.
- Spousal support – Certain factors must be considered when determining spousal support payments, also known as alimony. In North Carolina, these factors can include marital misconduct, the length of the marriage, and each spouse’s earning capacity.
- Pet custody – Many people consider their pets part of the family, so it’s no surprise that neither spouse wants to give up a pet in many divorces. When both spouses have strong emotional ties to a pet, it might be possible to arrange shared custody.
- Property distribution – North Carolina’s laws regarding property division reflect the idea that marriage should be an equitable partnership. Both spouses have rights to the certain property based on their contributions. While property must be divided equitably – not necessarily equally – what is considered equitable is often open to interpretation. It’s a good idea to work with an experienced divorce lawyer who can protect your rights.
- Savings and debt – Spouses often do not realize that debt, as well as assets, must be equitably divided in a divorce. Furthermore, debts must be classified, just like assets. To ensure that you don’t get saddled with more debt than you deserve, you should work with an experienced divorce lawyer who can safeguard your financial security.