It is difficult to make the decision to get a divorce. They are often complex and full of their own challenges. One thing that many couples worry about, no matter where they stand with each other, is the cost of divorce. Although it is never easy, it is important to consider what your divorce will cost. You must also decide what form of divorce resolution works better for you and your spouse. Understanding what factors affect the cost of a divorce can help you make a more informed decision.
In North Carolina, the filing fee for a divorce is $225. For a Resumption of Maiden Name claim, there is an additional $10 fee in North Carolina. If the sheriff’s office serves this filing on your spouse, there is a $30 fee. There is a $7 fee if the filing is served via certified mail. If you cannot afford these fees, they can be waived by filing a petition to proceed as an indigent.
These fees are not the only costs associated with a divorce. There are also:
Divorce outcomes like alimony and child support will also have an ongoing financial impact.
The average cost of an uncontested divorce with attorneys in the U.S. was $4,100 in 2019. A divorce with disputes that were resolved by attorneys without going through litigation had an average cost of $10,600. Divorces that went to trial for one or more issues had an average cost of $20,400 or more.
If you are facing a high-asset divorce or a highly contentious divorce, these costs are going to increase. You will likely need to pay your attorney their hourly rate for a longer period as the case will last longer. They are also likely to charge more for complex cases due to the extra work they require. In addition, all the other normal fees will be impacted by the significantly longer divorce process.
The costs of your divorce can be significantly impacted by your and your spouse’s ability to agree on the terms of the divorce. These are referred to as uncontested or contested divorces.
Spouses in uncontested divorces must come to an agreement on the following:
A judge will review this agreement and approve the finalization of the divorce. In uncontested divorces, the longest portion is the year-long required separation period.
If spouses fail to come to an agreement on these aspects, then the divorce must be handled in court. Litigation makes divorce more expensive. This will likely take several court dates and lead to higher court and attorney costs. It will also leave the final decision in the hands of the court. It will then be outside your or your spouse’s control.
An uncontested divorce is the ideal solution if it is possible. Not only is it faster and less costly, but it can also make things less emotionally tense. It works best if the spouses can remain amicable. They can also find collaborative ways to handle divorce matters that are less upsetting for any children who are involved. A couple can go through mediation or other alternative dispute resolution methods with a mediator or a divorce mediation attorney.
An uncontested divorce is the ideal way to limit costs during a divorce in North Carolina. In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse can work together to resolve matters with the help of a divorce mediator. You can create a plan for property division, child custody, and other issues. Not only is this less expensive, but it is also faster.
North Carolina operates under equitable distribution for property division, which sometimes means a 50/50 split. Equitable does not mean the property has to be split perfectly 50/50; this is simply the agreement spouses often come to. The spouses will determine what is equitable, and if they cannot agree, the court will decide. When determining what is equitable distribution, the court will look at factors such as:
Every North Carolina divorce requires spouses to live separately for over a year prior to filing for divorce. Other than that period of time, it generally takes 30 to 90 days to finalize an uncontested divorce. After the filing has been served on your spouse, there is a minimum waiting period of 30 days to finalize the divorce. Contested divorces are much more involved and can take a year or longer to finalize.
If you are filing for an absolute divorce, you must adhere to the year and a day separation period. The only exception is if you file after three years of incurable insanity in your spouse. This second form of filing for absolute divorce is rare, and there is no other way to avoid the year-long waiting period. Each spouse must live separately from the other. Also, at least one of the parties must be doing so with intent for it to be a permanent separation.
If you are considering divorce, you need to talk with skilled divorce attorneys regarding your ideal legal options. You need an attorney who understands the intricacies of divorce law. They can know how to provide legal counsel that is unique to your family’s situation. The Law Offices of Aimee E. Cain has more than 19 years of experience working with divorce and family law. We understand how complex and stressful divorces are. Contact our firm today to see how we can guide you through the divorce process.