If you are considering getting divorced, seeking legal representation from an experienced family law attorney in Charlotte is highly recommended.
Divorce Lawyers provide advice and help you navigate the complexities of the divorce process that may include things like child custody, equitable distribution, alimony, and post-separation support.
They can also help ensure that your rights and financial interests are protected.
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about divorce in North Carolina.
What is the difference between divorce and legal separation?
Divorce is a court action that legally terminates the marriage. If applicable, a divorce decree may award each spouse’s rights to property, debts, alimony, and child custody.
Under the NC Family Laws, failure to properly address Alimony and Equitable Distribution in the pleadings will permanently bar the parties’ claims for those remedies once the divorce decree is entered.
A period of legal separation is required prior to the entry of a divorce decree. The marriage is not legally terminated, and both parties remain married while they live separately.
What is the waiting period?
In North Carolina, most divorces require a one-year waiting period. This means that the parties must be legally separated for at least one year before a court will grant a final decree of divorce.
During this time, each party has the opportunity to file a Complaint for Divorce, and the Court (the District Court Judge) may consider issues such as alimony, child support, and property division.
What is Legal Separation?
Legal separation is when spouses separate but remain married. Legal separation does not terminate a marriage. If the parties reside within the same household, even in separate rooms, the one-year waiting period will not commence.
What needs to be decided in a divorce?
There are four (4) general areas that should be resolved in a divorce: 1) Custody of Children and Visitation, 2) Child Support, 3) Equitable Distribution 4) Alimony – Spousal Support
What is Alimony?
Under North Carolina law, spousal support or alimony is a court-ordered payment from one spouse to the other for support and maintenance.
Spousal Support awards can be made on an interim basis during the divorce proceedings and/or as part of a Final Order at the conclusion of the case.
The Court ordinarily will consider several factors when determining whether alimony is warranted, including: the earning capacity of each spouse; the age and physical health of both parties; the duration of the marriage; past marital standard of living; each party’s contribution to the marriage (both financially and non-financially); and any other factor deemed relevant.
What is Post Separation Support?
Post Separation Support or PSS is an interim support payment awarded to one party during the divorce proceedings.
The purpose of PSS is to provide financial assistance to a spouse who does not have enough funds for basic living expenses during the pendency of a divorce case.
Post Separation Support used to be referred to as Temporary Alimony.
What is mediation?
Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process whereby both parties meet with a neutral third party (the mediator) to try to reach an agreement. The mediator works with both parties to identify and discuss the issues in dispute and to understand each party’s interests. Mediation aims to reach an amicable resolution that both parties can agree upon. Mediation may be less expensive, less time-consuming, and less adversarial than litigation.
Who is the Supporting Spouse?
The “supporting spouse” is the spouse with greater income and financial resources. This can be either the husband or the wife or either party, male or female, in a divorce proceeding.
Who is the Dependent Spouse?
The “dependent spouse” is the lower-earning spouse or the spouse with fewer assets and financial resources. This can be either the husband or the wife or either party, male or female, in a divorce proceeding.
Should I move out of our home?
It is important to seek legal advice prior to making any major decisions, as there may be serious implications for relocating before or during a divorce.
Do we have to sell the house?
In North Carolina, the Court has the discretion to Order the marital home to be sold, and proceeds distributed consistent with its Equitable Distribution ruling. Given the unique nature of each family law case, it is important to consult with a lawyer experienced in North Carolina family law before making any decisions.
What is Equitable Distribution?
Equitable Distribution is the division of marital property (and marital debt) at the time of a divorce.
Marital property includes all assets and debts acquired during the marriage, with some limited exceptions.
What is Child Support?
Child Support is a payment from one parent to the other for the costs of raising children.
It is determined by using North Carolina Child Support Guidelines, which take into account each parent’s income and other relevant factors. Children’s best interests are considered when setting Child Support in North Carolina. Child support may be addressed by the Court (the Judge) both before and after a divorce is granted.
How much is Child Support?
The amount of child support that must be paid is determined by the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines. These guidelines are based on both parties’ income and other factors, such as daycare expenses and medical insurance premiums. Child custody is an aspect of child support, as the amount of time each parent spends with the children is a factor in determining the amount of Child Support.
Do I need a reason to file the divorce?
North Carolina is a “no-fault” divorce state. Either party may file for divorce. The consent of both parties is not required.
An absolute divorce may be granted if the parties have lived separately and apart (legally separated) for a period of at least one year.
How long does a divorce take?
The length of time to finalize a divorce will vary depending on the specifics of each case. There is a mandatory one-year waiting period in North Carolina, where the parties must remain legally separated before a divorce may be granted.
Divorce proceedings can take much longer, depending on the complexity of the issues involved and if there are any contested matters.
Do I need a lawyer?
It is highly recommended that parties seek legal advice from an experienced family law attorney in Charlotte for advice and guidance in navigating the divorce process.
Does it matter who files for Divorce first?
No. In North Carolina, either party may file for divorce, and the order in which it is filed will not affect the outcome of the case.
What are the steps in a Divorce case?
The typical steps in a divorce proceeding include filing the Complaint; service of process on the other party; temporary orders; discovery (gathering of documents and information); pretrial conference; trial (if necessary); entry of the Court’s Divorce Decree or Order; and post-trial motions. The process may also include mediation, settlement conferences, and/or arbitration, depending on the facts of each case.
How Is Property Divided In A Divorce?
In North Carolina, the court divides marital property and debts equitably between the parties in a divorce. This is known as Equitable Distribution.
The court considers several factors when making this determination, including the length of the marriage, each spouse’s contribution to the marriage, and each spouse’s economic situation following the divorce.
How much does a divorce cost?
The cost of a divorce can vary greatly depending on the specifics of each case. Generally, litigating is more expensive than mediation, participating in Collaborative Divorce, or settling out-of-court. The cost may also be affected by whether or not an attorney is retained and how long the proceedings take. The more contentious the proceedings, the higher the cost.
Who pays for the fees associated with the divorce?
Each party in North Carolina is generally responsible for its attorney’s fees. The Court (the Judge) may order one spouse to pay a portion or all of the other’s fees if the court finds that one party lacks sufficient funds or resources to pay its own attorney. The court may also consider each party’s financial resources when determining who pays for fees and costs associated with the divorce.
One of the spouses cheated, does the Judge care?
In North Carolina, marital misconduct is generally irrelevant to the court’s decision in a divorce proceeding. The court is primarily concerned with dividing property equitably and making decisions related to custody, support, and other matters. However, there may be some instances where infidelity could affect the outcome of the case, particularly with regard to Alimony. Sexual misconduct by the Dependent Spouse may be grounds for denial of Alimony.
Is there a Jury Trial for Divorce?
No. There is no right to a jury trial in North Carolina in divorce proceedings. The Judge will make all the decisions related to the Divorce Decree, which is a Court Order.
What do we do with debts?
In North Carolina, the Court distributes marital debts (i.e., debts ordinarily incurred during the course of marriage) equitably between the parties.
What happens to your 401(k)?
In North Carolina, the Court will divide any 401(k) accounts equitably between the parties based on factors consistent with its Equitable Distribution Order. Failure to properly plead Equitable Distribution in divorce pleadings results in the waiver of this right. It is important to consult with a lawyer experienced in North Carolina family law prior to making decisions that could affect the division of retirement funds.
What is Collaborative Divorce?
Collaborative Divorce is a process through which parties use an interdisciplinary team to negotiate and settle disputes in an out-of-court setting. The team typically consists of the parties’ lawyers and neutral professionals such as mental health counselors or financial advisors. In Charlotte, NC, the Powers Law Firm PA encourages Collaborative Divorce when appropriate. Attorney Bill Powers is a member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the Charlotte Collaborative Divorce Professionals.
Powers Law Firm PA – Charlotte Divorce Lawyers
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