Before filing for divorce, you should always consult with an experienced divorce lawyer to become informed of the process and to fully understand the legal consequences of the divorce.
North Carolina’s “no-fault” divorce statute allows a North Carolina resident to file an action for divorce after one year of continuous separation from his or her spouse. However, an experienced divorce attorney will advise you that there is a fair amount of “business” to be attended to beforehand.
Claims for equitable distribution and alimony must have been filed (or settled in an enforceable separation and property settlement agreement) before the divorce judgment is signed, or those claims will be lost.
Failure to file these claims prior to the entry of a divorce judgment is a serious mistake and can mean a share of a former spouse’s retirement plan or a share of the value of spouse’s real estate may be lost.
While one may save about $700 or so by filing his or her own divorce case, the value of the lost claims for equitable distribution of the marital property or alimony will turn those savings into a substantial net loss.
Filing your own divorce, without the assistance of an attorney may work for you if there are no claims for equitable distribution or alimony to be lost and if the time and effort required to file the divorce “pro se” does not off-set the monetary savings.
In any event, I strongly suggest that you consult with an experienced divorce attorney before filing your own divorce case.
With regard to the requirement of a continuous one year period of separation – there is quite a bit of misinformation out there. The idea that it is okay to just say you have been living apart for a year, even if you have not, however, will not stand.
North Carolina requires a continuous period of separation for one year as the legal basis for divorce. An objective standard is applied to determine whether or not the parties have truly been separated for one year. This is not a subjective standard, so it is not enough to have lived together in separate bedrooms or on separate levels of the same home.
If you are under the same roof you are not living “separate and apart” for purposes of obtaining a divorce, no matter how unhappy you may be. A divorce attorney will tell you that living unhappily in the same home does not equate to a separation for purposes of North Carolina’s divorce statute.
If you need to file for divorce in the Concord or Kannapolis area of NC, then call William Rogers Law Firm on (704) 788-3262 for a consultation today.