You have made the decision to file for divorce. It’s a big step and you have thought long and hard about it, but where do you start? Since every state (and some counties) have different laws regarding divorce procedure, it is important that you know what to expect when filing in Mecklenburg County.
First Thing’s First – Separation
Before being able to successfully file for divorce in North Carolina, you must have lived in the state for at least six months and have been separated from your spouse for at least one year.
Child Custody, Spousal Support & Division of Property
If you want the court to assist with making a decision regarding child custody, spousal support or division of property, you must already file for this before officially filing for divorce. You could lose your rights to these things if you file for divorce before handling these issues.
North Carolina has a “No Fault” Divorce Policy
In order to obtain a divorce in the state of North Carolina, neither party needs to prove fault. Some states need proof of a wrongful act, such as adultery, but no such requirements apply here.
It is important to note, however, that wrongful acts are taken into consideration when the courts rule on child custody, spousal support and distribution of property. For example, adultery may have a significant impact on a judge’s ability to award or denial of spousal support.
What if my Spouse Doesn’t Want a Divorce?
Consent by both parties is not necessary in North Carolina. As long as the one year separation period has been met and one person has been a resident of the state for six months or more, a divorce may be filed with no contest.
Filing and Serving the Paperwork
After completing the necessary paperwork, be sure to make at least two copies of each form. You will file the paperwork at the Mecklenburg County Clerk of Court’s office for a small fee.
You may serve your spouse with the divorce paperwork in one of three ways:
- Certified Mail – The paperwork must be signed for by the person who is receiving it.
- Delivery by Sheriff – The local Sherriff’s Department will deliver the paperwork to your spouse. This may be more time consuming than the first option.
- Publication – This is rare and not recommended, but if the spouse can not be contacted or their whereabouts are unknown, a publication in the local newspaper may be placed for three consecutive weeks.
Should I Hire an Attorney to File for Divorce?
In theory, you can file for divorce and complete the process without the help of a lawyer. However, the danger lies in the fact that you may lose assets that you are entitled to or even fair custody of your children.
It is important to contact a lawyer before you commit to a separation in order to ensure you are doing everything correctly to protect your rights. Charlotte-based lawyer, Thomas D. Bumgardner, has years of experience representing people in your position. Before making any firm legal decision, discuss your case with Thomas first – consultations are free. Simply call (704) 887-4981.