Considering a divorce is a major undertaking that will require thorough deliberation. Once you have decided to separate from your spouse, there are many factors that must be taken into account. Separating your property, creating a child custody plan, deciding how any pets will be homed, and assigning who gets a business are important parts of separating your life from your spouse’s, but they are far from the only issues that must be handled.
Another major decision is living arrangements. Only one person can live in the family home, and the other must find another place to reside during the waiting period and while the divorce is being finalized. This can be a hindrance for many couples divorcing in North Carolina.
A majority of U.S. states do not have a mandatory waiting period before a spouse can file for divorce. Only 16 states have laws that require a separation period; unfortunately, North Carolina is one of those states. Due to a law passed in 1931, spouses must be separated for a year before they are permitted to file for divorce. There has been speculation on why this wait time exists:
In reality, there is no existing rationale for why this waiting period law was passed, as any records or notes have been lost even to the members of the General Assembly.
To get an absolute divorce in North Carolina, there are certain requirements that must be met. In addition to living in separate residences continuously for over a year, one of the spouses must also have the intention of ending the marriage for that period of time. Any reconciliation during that period will reset the clock, preventing you from getting divorced until one year following the reconciliation.
The other requirement for getting a divorce in North Carolina is that one spouse must have lived in the state for six months prior to filing for a divorce.
Once you are certain that you want a divorce, the wait time can seem like a major burden. As a couple, you will both still be responsible for paying expenses on the marital home as well as the other residence for the spouse that moves out. There will also be a lot of uncertainty tied to child custody and property division. Even in divorces where the couple does not share children and can work together easily to separate property, the wait time to move on with your life can seem like a hindrance.
Unfortunately, there is no legal way to bypass the one-year wait time. There are, however, a few limited exceptions. Some spouses choose to lie and claim that they have been living separately for a year, as the court does not generally require proof of separation. This is not advised because lying to the court is a criminal offense. You can also petition the court for a waiver to bypass the year-long wait time, but granting this waiver is entirely up to the court’s discretion.
In addition to the year-long separation period, there is also a 30-day or 60-day response period following the initial divorce filing. Once the initial paperwork has been filed, the other spouse has 30 days to file a response; however, they can request an additional 30 days to do so.
Fortunately, you can help the divorce process go faster by creating a separation agreement and avoiding a contested divorce. A Divorce Attorney in Concord, NC, can help you prepare such an agreement. A separation agreement outlines how the couple has agreed to resolve the issues related to the divorce, such as property division, child custody, child support, and alimony. If a separation agreement can be created that resolves all potential issues, the divorce can proceed uncontested and be resolved fairly quickly. If the divorce is contested, and a judge must make determinations on how to dissolve your marriage, it will delay the divorce finalization.
A divorce from bed and board (DBB) is not an actual divorce, as the name would suggest. A DBB is a court-ordered separation that is available only under limited circumstances. The requesting spouse must be able to prove serious fault, such as drug abuse or adultery. The year-long wait period still applies, even in the case of a DBB.
Once the one-year waiting period has passed, an uncontested divorce can happen relatively quickly. After the initial divorce filing has been made, the other spouse has 30 or 60 days to respond to the filing. After their response has been accepted, an uncomplicated divorce can be finalized in as little as 15 days. Most divorces are finalized within 120 days. A contested divorce, however, can take much longer, as you must wait for court dates and decisions from a judge.
Assets and debts in a divorce are divided according to equitable division. In most instances, this gives each spouse equal ownership over all marital property, and everything is generally divided 50/50. However, equitable does not necessarily mean equal, so a spouse may be awarded more or less if there is a valid justification.
There is no mandatory waiting period before you can remarry in North Carolina. Once your divorce is finalized, you are free to remarry without penalty. However, if you plan to seek a marriage license less than a month after your absolute divorce is final, you will generally need to present a certified copy of your signed divorce decree.
When you have decided to divorce your spouse, you may be confused about how to move forward. The Law Offices of Aimee E. Cain can help provide valuable insight into the most effective routes available. With a team that focuses on family law, we can provide the guidance and support required for a divorce with even the most complicated of circumstances. Reach out to our office today for a divorce consultation.