Most people describe “divorce” as an event or process—
“I’m getting a divorce.”
Much of the free advice out there for people who have separated is about how to file for divorce when to file for divorce, and what the requirements are for divorce. Some people think that filing for divorce is the first thing you do when you separate. Others think divorce is a “package deal” that will resolve all of the spouses’ issues at the time of divorce in one document.
But the divorce itself is a very small (albeit, emotionally significant) part of the legal process. It’s usually done at the end of a family law case after all the hard work of negotiating is complete or after lawsuits have been filed.
What does divorce do?
A divorce decree does make you single again, allows you to remarry, lets you file taxes as a single person, and cuts off some estate and property rights that married people normally have.
A divorce decree doesn’t divide up your property, establish alimony, determine child support, or set a custody schedule for your kids. A divorce is a divorce.
Spouses must resolve issues like property division, alimony, child support, and custody through a Separation Agreement or by filing lawsuits and letting a judge make those decisions. If a spouse files for divorce and they haven’t agreed on property or alimony issues in a Separation Agreement or if they don’t have a pending lawsuit for property or alimony, the rights to ask for property division and alimony are cut off and lost forever. Child custody and child support are not affected by the divorce decree and can be resolved at any time because parents aren’t always married.
Requirements When Filing for Divorce
Since the purpose of the divorce is to end the marriage (not resolve everything that happened during that marriage), the requirements for being able to file for divorce are pretty straight-forward:
- You must be separated for more than a year (the whole “year and a day” phrase you read about); and
- One of the spouses must have lived in North Carolina for the last six months.
Often North Carolina is called a “no-fault” divorce state because it doesn’t matter why the parties separated—just whether or not the parties have been separated for more than a year. If those requirements are met, either spouse can file for the divorce and assuming the correct process and paperwork are followed, the divorce will be granted whether or not the other spouse agrees to the divorce.
Need Help With Your Divorce?
Our experienced group of lawyers is here to fight for you and your interests—whether you’re contemplating separation, already separated, or ready to file for divorce. Schedule your consultation today to begin down the road to a successful dispute resolution.
By Katie King