2024 How to File for Divorce in North Carolina: Step by Step

For most people, divorce is a foreign process that they’ve never been through. The process can be complex and, as with all things related to the law, it’s important that you follow proper procedures. It can be difficult to keep track of everything that needs to be done, especially with the emotions involved in the situation. However, you can often ensure that your divorce is proceeding properly when you choose to work with a Divorce Lawyer in Concord, NC.

Step-by-Step Divorce in North Carolina

A divorce in North Carolina could be contested or uncontested. A contested divorce occurs when the divorcing spouses can’t come to some level of agreement regarding the major issues of the divorce. In these cases, outstanding disputes about things like child custody, spousal and child support, and property division will likely need to be argued in court before a judge makes a ruling. Generally, though, divorces will follow a standard process:

  • Separation – North Carolina requires that couples looking to divorce spend more than a year separated before they can file for divorce. This means that they must be living apart from each other for at least a year and one day. Additionally, it must be the intention of at least one of the two parties to make the arrangement permanent. There can often be some question of when this clock officially starts, as it’s not uncommon for couples to briefly reunite. Your lawyer can help you understand how the specifics of your situation may affect the timeframes involved.
  • Preparation – During the period of separation, or possibly just before, it can be a good idea to gather important documents and information that can be helpful to the divorce proceedings. In particular, financial documents and anything related to any children involved can be important to have copies of.
  • Agreement – Many couples work together to develop a separation agreement as a way to avoid having to go to court. This could be through a process like mediation. In some cases where the divorce is contested, the court may order mediation as a means of trying to find some resolution before needing a court hearing. Any agreement that the couple comes to will need to be approved by the court and adhere to the state’s guidelines around that particular subject.
  • Filing – Once the requisite separation time has passed, one of the spouses can officially file for divorce. This involves one party serving papers to the other, and the other has the opportunity to respond to those papers within a reasonable amount of time, typically thirty days.
  • Court – What the court will do next depends on whether the divorce is being contested. In an uncontested divorce, it’s possible that there may not need to be an appearance in court unless there are some concerns with the separation agreement. In a contested divorce, there may be things like temporary orders, mediation orders, hearings, and a trial.
  • Final Judgment – The last part of the process comes after all matters are resolved. This resolution could be the judge’s approval of a separation agreement, and it could be a ruling handed down by the judge after a trial. In either case, the judge will issue court orders regarding the major elements of the divorce. They will then issue a final judgment that officially ends the marriage.

FAQs About Filing for Divorce in North Carolina

Can a Divorce Be Settled Out of Court?

There are times when a divorce can be settled out of court, which can be a way to save both time and money. However, this would mean that both parties would need to be agreeable to that process. Mediation can help a divorcing couple work through the process of coming to an agreement regarding the most important components of the divorce, such as:

  • Child custody
  • Child support
  • Spousal support
  • Property division

Any agreement will need to be approved by the court, but that’s not the same as going to trial.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce in North Carolina?

When thinking about the time component of a divorce in North Carolina, it’s important to recognize that the state requires divorcing couples to be separated for more than a year before divorce proceedings can begin. This means a minimum of one year and a day of living separately, with at least one party intending for it to be permanent.

Once the legal process begins, it will likely take months and could take years in more complex situations. However, preparing before filing could help the process go a little faster.

Can Divorce Orders Be Modified?

Divorce orders, such as child custody, child support, and spousal support, can be modified. However, to get a modification, you must be able to show that there was some kind of substantial change that makes the modifications necessary. If that can be demonstrated, a hearing will be held to determine what kind of modifications, if any, will be made.

Will Property in a Divorce Be Divided 50-50?

North Carolina does not guarantee an even split of property in a divorce. Instead, this state operates on the principle of equitable distribution. What this means is that all the marital property is looked at, and a distribution is then determined based on a plethora of factors. These include earning capacity, age, and health, among others.

We Can Help You Through the Divorce Process

Divorce is never an easy thing. The process is going to take some time, and there can be heavy emotions to deal with. This is why it can be helpful to work with an experienced attorney who has a solid understanding of what to expect through the process.

When you work with a knowledgeable divorce lawyer, you have someone who can help make sure that everything meets the legal requirements under state law while also advocating for your interests and concerns. At The Law Offices of Aimee E. Cain, we can be the kind of guide that you need to navigate the divorce process. Contact us today if you need help with your divorce.

Do not face the difficulties of divorce alone.
Call (704) 960-4656 or Email us to Schedule a Consultation.