Hull & Chandler, P.A., provides top-notch legal assistance to individuals and families throughout North Carolina.
Divorce and Family Law in North Carolina in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County relates to divorce, separation agreements, alimony, child custody and support issues, and Equitable Distribution. Family court provides many user-friendly court services that encourage families to work out their problems amicably, but spouses still need compassionate legal help to safeguard their rights and solve disputes.
While it is possible that divorces can be handled without attorneys getting involved, legal representation is strongly recommended to ensure as painless an outcome as possible. Our attorneys are ready to help you navigate the divorce process so that you receive a fair settlement. Contact us today for answers to any questions you may have about divorce.
The term “absolute divorce” in North Carolina law refers to the termination of a marriage (click here to see a complete official definition). If you are considering a divorce, the experienced attorneys at Hull & Chandler, P.A., can help you through the process.
There are some requirements for most cases of absolute divorce:
- The two parties must be legally married.
- The two parties must have lived separately, in different houses, for at least one year. Merely using separate rooms does not meet this criteria. The couple must live under different roofs. At least one spouse must have had the intention of remaining separate during this one-year period.
- At least one of the spouses must have lived in North Carolina for at least six months before the request for absolute divorce was filed.
- The spouses must be over the age of 18.
- The filing spouse must not be in the military.
After filing for absolute divorce, your spouse should be officially served notice of your intentions. Service is most commonly done through the sheriff or by certified mail. The divorce process cannot continue until 30 days after the spouse was served. There is nothing the other spouse can do to prevent you from seeking the divorce as long as you have remained separate and apart for one year.
The next step varies based on the county in which the absolute divorce has been filed. For example, in Mecklenburg County, when the 30-day waiting period has elapsed, you can file a Motion for Summary Judgment and Notice of Hearing. This informs the other party when the divorce will take place. If you do this through an attorney, you will never have to go to court or answer before a judge. At the divorce hearing on summary judgment, a judge will review the case to check that all requirements have been met. If there are no problems, you can expect the divorce judgment to arrive a few days after the scheduled date.
Before the divorce is finalized, you should also have a signed and executed Separation Agreement or an action pending for equitable distribution and alimony. Without them, you might lose your rights to property and monetary support.
These are a few considerations when filing for divorce:
- You might need to get an injunction to protect your rights to marital and divisible property or prevent your spouse from transferring or disposing of property.
- You should consult an experienced attorney before abandoning your marital home because it could affect your rights to get alimony or custody.
- Talking to a lawyer first can help you handle separation or divorce and take the right actions to safeguard your rights.
Child support in North Carolina is based on the “income shares” guidelines. Courts typically follow these guidelines in the vast majority of cases, unless you have compelling reasons to request a different arrangement. Child Support from non-custodial parents only continues until children reach age 18 or graduate from high school, whichever is later. Spouses can petition the court to change child support agreements when financial circumstances change. Parents have no obligation to pay for college unless they voluntarily agree to do so. You can file directly with Child Support Enforcement in North Carolina to get child support without using an attorney, and in certain cases, grandparents can be required to make support payments.
Post Separation Support
Post separation support provides income for one spouse during a separation or while waiting for a divorce decree. Payments continue until specified dates or until the court grants or denies alimony. You could lose your rights to alimony for several reasons, including adultery, cruel treatment, infidelity, abandonment or excessive use of drugs and alcohol. Courts may award post separation support based on the financial ability of the parties, the expenses, and the factors set forth in the N.C.G.S. Section 50-16.1A, including:
- Legal obligations
- Misconduct of one spouse
- Accustomed standards of living
In North Carolina, there is a presumption that all property and debts acquired during the marriage will be divided equally. The name on the account will not make a difference. For instance, retirement assets of one spouse will be part of the division of property. Gifts of inheritance received during the marriage are considered the separate property of the spouse who received the funds. While the court presumed “50/50” is correct, a spouse can ask for an unequal distribution.
North Carolina judges consider marriages as partnerships, and if one spouse supports a dependent spouse during the marriage, then alimony is usually granted. Courts use a two-step process. First, a judge decides whether there is a financially dependent spouse and a supporting spouse relationship in the marriage. If this relationship is determined to exist, then the court studies statutes, spousal behavior and income to set the amount of the award. Martial misconduct can limit your ability to receive or obligation to pay alimony, and adultery during the marriage and prior to separation will completely bar your rights to receive alimony.
Child custody issues can cause intense emotions, but courts in North Carolina always consider the child’s best interest first. Courts can grant sole custody, joint custody or award custody to third parties such as grandparents. Factors that courts consider include the following issues:
- Child safety
- Each spouse’s ability to raise a child
- Any acts of domestic violence against a spouse or child
Mediation is a court-ordered process where parents try to work out the details of their divorces. A neutral party, usually a retired judge or family lawyer, helps couples work through their issues including the following subjects:
- Child support and alimony
- Custody and parenting time
- Division of retirement-plan resources
- Current taxes and any previous tax obligations
- Distribution of property acquired during the marriage.
To schedule mediation, please click here to email Ketan.