In North Carolina, it is possible to work through issues with your spouse and get a divorce without going to court. “Uncontested” divorce is the process of working out the issues between yourselves without court interference. Uncontested divorce in NC doesn’t have to be complicated. If you meet specific criteria and can negotiate and work through agreements with your spouse, you can get a divorce in North Carolina without too much fuss or hassle.
Criteria for an Uncontested Divorce in NC
North Carolina is a “no-fault divorce” state. You can divorce your spouse without blaming each other for the failure of your marriage. Keeping the focus off of blame and working together to settle your differences instead can make your divorce more straightforward and less expensive.
Before filing for an uncontested divorce, you must meet these criteria:
- One of you has lived in NC for at least 6 months
- You do not want alimony or spousal support, or you can agree upon the amounts
- You do not need a court-ordered division of property
- Your spouse and you have been separated from each other for at least 1 year
What Exactly Does “Separated From” Mean?
According to the NC Judicial branch, “To be considered separated from your spouse, you need to be living in different homes, and at least one of you needs to intend that the separation be permanent. In general, you are not legally separated if your relationship has ended but you still live in the same home, or if you live in separate homes without the intent to be permanently separated (for example, for work purposes).”
You don’t have to make a formal agreement for the separation, but making one can often help you work through financial issues while working out your eventual divorce agreement.
For example, let’s say your spouse moves out and into an apartment. He then verbally agrees to let you keep the paid-off house in exchange for your choice not to file for alimony.
If you make his offer an official agreement during your separation, it is more likely that you can continue to agree in that respect for your divorce contract. The written agreements you make during your separation period often heavily influence both of your decisions about how to settle your property and finances together.
Eventually, many separation agreements can become an official part of your divorce.
How to File for an Uncontested “No-Fault” Divorce
As long as you and your spouse can agree upon the terms of your divorce, you may fill out the necessary forms and move forward with the divorce. Working with an attorney who specializes in no-fault divorce makes the process easier and more accurate.
Only one spouse makes the filing for a “no-fault” divorce. You will need these forms to file for divorce in NC:
- Complaint For Absolute Divorce
- Domestic Court Civil Action Cover Sheet – Form AOC-CV-750
- Civil Summons – Form AOC-CV-100
- Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Affidavit – Form AOC-G-250
You can also choose to file for the court to pay your fees.
Uncontested Divorce Can Be Easy
An uncontested divorce can be easy. However, it is vital for your future to work out many issues before filing for divorce. If you don’t fight for your rights now, you can lose them once you agree to an absolute divorce in NC.
A divorce agreement is more than just breaking up with someone. It is a legally binding contract that you will live with for the rest of your life. As a legal document, it overrides your marriage contract and sets new legal precedents for your future.
It is essential to look at many legal factors before filing for divorce or signing a divorce contract.
Negotiate for Your Future
You must work through negotiated settlements with your spouse before filing the divorce paperwork. Consult with an attorney specializing in uncontested divorce if you need help making agreements to ensure your rights. If needed, your attorney can also recommend and be a vital part of mediation or arbitration alternatives to a court process.
Issues to consider include:
- Child custody: Will you equally share care and living arrangements with your children? How much time with each parent will each child spend?
- Visitation: When and how will you see your children? Are there any rules or special needs that you would like to include in the paperwork for you both to abide by?
- Legal separation: If you choose to write up a legal separation agreement, you can include child custody and visitation issues, financial matters, property issues, etc.
- Child support: Will one parent pay child support to the other?
- Alimony: Will one spouse pay alimony to the other?
- Division of pensions, joint savings accounts, retirement plans: You must work through the financial assets with your spouse before the divorce or you can lose your ownership or beneficiary status for financial accounts. Your agreements must be in writing in the divorce proceeding for them to legally apply. A verbal agreement from a spouse is not enough to ensure your retirement savings. Also, look at insurance policies and who the beneficiaries are on each account.
- Debt: Any debts you or your spouse owe to a creditor must also go through a negotiation process. After the divorce, whoever’s name is on the account is on the hook.
- Equitable distribution of marital property: A large part of divorce is negotiating property ownership with your spouse. It is smart to work with someone impartial to help you come to a fair agreement on items such as cars, houses, boats, furniture or other items in your home.
You Can Get a “Quick and Easy” Divorce
Within a marriage, it is often difficult to see more than 2 sides to any discussion. Working with a divorce attorney helps you see your situation more clearly. An attorney enables you to see how other couples work through the same issues.
They can also advise you about how a court would likely see your struggles if you decide you can’t come to an agreement with your spouse. An experienced attorney can usually work with you to avert an expensive and long court battle for your rights.
A specialized no-fault divorce attorney can also help you go through binding arbitration agreement negotiations to settle the difficult aspects of your divorce. Without an attorney helping you throughout the negotiations, your amicable settlement could end up a fiery and devastating court battle.
We Can Help
At Plekan Law, we work with you to make the divorce process as easy as possible with the least financial outlay. We understand how difficult it is to step back from the emotional aspects of the divorce process, but we help you clearly focus on the issues. As we walk you through each task and negotiation, you can begin to focus on what’s important: moving forward and finding yourself again. Contact us and find out how we can help you.