If you are considering divorce in North Carolina, turn to Greene Crow & Smith, P.A. Our experienced divorce attorneys know how uncomfortable and overwhelming the dissolution of a marriage can be and will work to protect your best interests while mitigating your stress. We have the knowledge and negotiating skills to help you restructure your life without losing your balance.
Because the laws of divorce vary from state to state, it is crucial to have an attorney who is well-informed and up-to-date on the separation and divorce laws of North Carolina. The sharp lawyers of Greene Crow & Smith keep current with legislation and have the experience to handle even the most complex divorce negotiations. The sooner you contact us, the sooner you will feel back in control.
Eligibility for Divorce in North Carolina
In order to be eligible to divorce in North Carolina, one spouse must have resided in the state for 6 months prior to filing. More importantly, you and your spouse must have lived separately for at least one year (12 months consecutively) prior to filing for divorce.
North Carolina Is a No-Fault Divorce State
This means that you don’t have to stipulate a reason for wanting to divorce. Nonetheless, in some circumstances, fault matters. In divorces known as “divorces from bed and board,” in which the court may order a legal separation before the “absolute divorce” is finalized, the following reasons are considered:
- Cruel or dangerous treatment
- Forced departure of one spouse from the home
- Intolerable humiliation
- Substance abuse
It should be noted that any of these types of misconduct can also result in the at-fault party losing certain rights (e.g. estate rights) under the divorce agreement.
Once you have become our client, we can file for divorce on your behalf. The necessary papers are filed as a divorce complaint with the clerk of your county and your soon-to-be ex-spouse will be notified by the sheriff’s office. At Greene Crow & Smith, most of our divorce filings take place in Craven and Pamlico Counties.
Divorce Through Mediation
If you and your spouse are able to work cooperatively on severing your marital ties, you can engage in mediation to resolve issues. You and your spouse may agree that it will be beneficial for each of you to have your attorneys present during mediation to make sure you are each treated fairly.
Some areas of compromise in divorce are typically harder to negotiate than others. For example, child custody or alimony may be sticking points. If possible, however, it is preferable to come to terms during mediation to avoid the costly, time-consuming process of a trial. This is a strong reason to have one of our agile negotiators in the room during mediation.
Divorce Through Litigation
If it becomes clear that an amicable resolution of divorce issues is not possible, the divorce issues will have to be decided in a court of law. In this case, you will be glad to have the strong representation Greene Crow & Smith can provide.
Before appearing in court, our divorce attorneys will engage in a process known as discovery, during which they will explore all aspects of the case, including financial information (assets and debts), evidence of spousal misconduct, and pertinent facts about any children involved. Each divorce lawyer will present his or her client’s case and the judge will determine the final rulings relative to:
Any property obtained during the marriage by either spouse is considered marital property in North Carolina, meaning both parties have an equal claim to it during a divorce. Any debts incurred during the marriage are also considered marital property.
Property obtained by either spouse prior to the marriage, however, is considered the sole property of the individual spouse, as are assets that were inherited or received as a lawsuit settlement or personal gift during the marriage. Gifts exchanged by spouses with one another are deemed marital property.
While property in North Carolina divorces is normally divided equally between spouses, it is common for the following factors to be taken into account to make certain of an equitable distribution:
- Income of both spouses
- Property owned individually by one or both spouses
- Debts that were incurred individually and kept secret
- Child or spousal support obligations from earlier marriages
- The length of the marriage
- Who will be continuing to live in the family home
- Contributions one spouse has made to the other’s education
The court does not consider factors like infidelity when dividing property, but it does consider factors like one spouse’s gambling, drug habit, or reckless spending that devalued the estate.
There are two types of child custody: legal and physical. Legal custody, usually given jointly, gives one or both parents the ability to make major decisions about the child’s medical care, education, religious upbringing, and extracurricular activities. Physical custody involves where the child lives. It may also be given jointly; if one parent is given physical custody, the other is entitled to visitation rights (parenting time).
In North Carolina, both parents are responsible for the support of their children until the children turn 18 or graduate high school. The noncustodial parent pays child support to the custodial parent who is assumed to bear the bulk of daily childcare costs. Child support is calculated to cover basic costs like food, clothing, and housing, and other expenses, including medical care, health insurance, and recreational activities.
Alimony (Spousal Support)
Alimony was almost universally awarded when one spouse it was common for one spouse to be designated the homemaker. Now that most marriages have two partners working outside the home, alimony is awarded much less frequently, usually when one or more of the following factors is present:
- One spouse has much less earning potential than the other
- The marriage is of long duration
- One spouse has never worked outside the home
- One spouse is of advanced age or in ill health
- One spouse supported the other’s education
If you are requesting alimony or fighting against the need for it, having a persuasive divorce attorney is critical.
Contact Our Experienced North Carolina Divorce Attorneys Today
Whether or not litigation is necessary in your case, we will vigorously protect your rights while maintaining maximum stability in your family. If you have children, we will work hard to shield them, knowing they are the family’s most vulnerable parties. Contact our office for a consultation today!