If you are thinking about divorce, you may wonder how it works and what the legal terms “default” and “uncontested” mean in North Carolina. You may have heard friends talking about an “easy divorce” or a divorce without going to court. There are ways to keep the costs down and make divorce easier. However, without understanding the process, you may give up rights for your future. Let’s look at uncontested vs. default divorce.

Divorce Without the Courtroom

It is possible to get a divorce without going to court. The only requirements for divorce in North Carolina include:

  • One of you has lived in NC for at least six months
  • You have been separated for at least one year
  • You both agree on the amount, if any, for alimony
  • Both spouses agree about child custody arrangements and visitation rights
  • You’ve both agreed about any child support amounts 
  • You’ve both agreed about the division of property

If you and your spouse meet the terms above, you may file for an uncontested divorce. “Uncontested” simply means that you are in agreement with each other about all of the issues surrounding your divorce, and one of you is ready to file while the other is ready to sign the papers.

Only one spouse makes the filing for a “no-fault” uncontested divorce. The spouse who does not file will need to sign the papers when served to their residence.

As long as you and your spouse can agree upon the terms of your divorce, one of 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. 

Uncontested vs Default Divorce 

A default divorce happens when one spouse files for divorce and the other does not sign or legally respond to the divorce papers in the required 30 days after being served with them. If the spouse does not respond or sign, the court grants a default divorce to the spouse who filed for divorce. 

You might end up facing a default divorce if your spouse is the type of person who would:

  • Refuse to sign any papers
  • Never argue about the terms you put in your divorce documents about property division, alimony, child support, and child visitation or custody agreements
  • Never hire an attorney or willingly step foot in a courtroom

What If My Spouse Says They Won’t Sign

Planning for a default divorce to happen is not usually a good idea. It is vital for your future to work out your marital property division, child custody, and alimony issues before filing for divorce. 

If you plan to NOT ask for alimony, property, or child support and visitation so that your spouse will agree not to fight you, consider discussing your thoughts with a family law attorney first. 

Before filing for divorce with an ex who claims they will not sign papers, it makes sense to consult with a legal authority who specializes in uncontested divorce. Considering your issues with an experienced divorce attorney can help you fight for your rights and save you money in the long run.  

If you don’t fight for your rights now, you can lose them once you agree to a divorce in NC. Not fighting for your rights to receive child support or alimony could cost you untold thousands of dollars over the years. Before filing divorce papers, understand your worth as a person who has rights.

A divorce is a legally binding contract that you will live with for the rest of your life. It is not just the end of a relationship. As a legal document, it overrides your marriage contract and sets new legal precedents for your future. 

Giving away your basic human rights because your ex threatens not to sign papers is not okay or expected of you by anyone who cares for you. An uncontested divorce where both spouses reach an agreement about the issues is a better choice when possible.

Consider These Issues Before Filing for Divorce:

  • 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? For example, if your spouse is on drugs, you may want to fight for supervised visitation when the spouse has your children.
  • 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 apply legally. 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 wise to work with someone impartial to help you agree about your joint property such as cars, houses, boats, furniture, or other items in your home.

Giving Away Your Rights

Work with an attorney to ensure that you do not give away your spousal rights, especially if you have children together. Filing for a divorce without asking for alimony or child support because you think it will make life easier is not generally the best decision. 

Your ex owes a duty to you and your children depending on the circumstances of your divorce.  Never give away your rights without discussing your situation with an experienced family law attorney specializing in divorce. 

It is possible to work through issues fairly with your spouse and file for an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce can be an easy divorce with the right help to talk through issues and understand what is at stake. 

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 focus on the issues. Our desire is to fight for your rights, whether you face uncontested, default, or courtroom settlement and divorce. We want to walk you through each task and negotiation so that 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. 

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