North Carolina’s laws around separation periods, process and divorce are complex. Assets, payments and custody must be explicitly allocated and can create a web of complicated, anxiety-filled and expensive results.
1. Consider – even for a moment – trying to save your marriage
Divorce should always be a last resort. A marriage counselor, a certified mediator or another professional maybe able to help you save your marriage. If that’s not an option, these professionals can help address important emotional questions like “what went wrong?” or “where do I go from here?” You don’t have to wait for your spouse to join you. Acting early, even if alone, can help. Your employer, health insurance company or religious contacts may be able to help you find a well-suited resource. Grey Powell Law is happy to recommend such professionals as well.
2. Talk with an attorney
Starting a divorce in North Carolina can be stressful, expensive and complicated. The stakes are even higher if children are involved. We recommend you talk with an attorney during this decision-making time. An experienced divorce lawyer can explain the legal process, discuss options to traditional divorce proceedings, like collaborative divorce and help you decide on an appropriate path. If you decide to move ahead with a divorce, you’ll need to carefully consider your actions and the steps you make early in the process.
3. Time matters
In North Carolina, you can file for divorce only after meeting both of the following time limitations:
- You have lived in NC for at least 6 months
- You have been separated for at least 1 year
4. Try collaborative divorce
Collaborative divorce is is alternative dispute resolution in family law. Both parties agree to resolve conflicts through cooperative techniques – not adversarial strategies and litigation. This allows the parties to make the decisions about their future life and the lives of their children, not a Judge. Collaborative divorce can be less expensive than litigation and can be less stressful since all parties actively participate. The process also usually moves faster since it’s not dependent on crowded divorce court dockets.
5. Don’t move until you talk
North Carolina requires that married couples live apart for one year before filing for divorce. That said, it’s important to talk with an family law attorney before either of you move out of your family home. Moving out could force you to pay alimony – or make it where you can’t collect it. Plus, leaving could prevent you from coming back without a court order. Laws around this important step are complicated. Talk with attorney beforepacking any bags. The one exception is if there is violence. Then, you must take action to protect both you and your family. Learn more
6. Find your own attorney
Regardless of whether you pursue collaborative divorce or traditional proceedings, you will need your own legal representation. You’ll need to find an experienced attorney who matches your needs, personality and budget. You may not share a lawyer with your spouse. Attorneys are bound by the Rules of Professional Conduct which prohibits them from representing both sides of a contested – or potentially adversarial – situation. Many family lawyers, like Grey Powell Law, offer a free consultation for potential clients.