Written by Jonathan Breeden
Deciding to get a divorce in North Carolina is a complicated and emotional decision. Once you decide you’re ready, you want things to move as quickly as possible. It can be frustrating if your spouse is not on board with ending the marriage, and seeks to delay or disrupt things.
When you want a divorce, you need an experienced and aggressive lawyer to move things along. With offices in Raleigh, Garner, Angier, and Smithfield, NC, the Breeden Law Office will ensure your divorce is finalized as quickly as possible.
If you and your spouse both agree to a divorce, your respective lawyers can work out a settlement about property division, alimony, custody and visitation, and child support. The settlement agreement is signed by both of you and submitted to the court.If your spouse decides not to sign the agreement, then you must move forward and file for divorce and let the court decide all of the issues between you.
North Carolina divorce laws require you and your spouse to live separately for one year before you can file for divorce but you can file for property division, alimony, custody and visitation immediately after separating. Once you have met this criteria, one spouse begins the divorce process by filing legal documents called a summons and complaint.
The complaint can ask the court for a divorce and/or property division, alimony, child custody and visitation, and child support. The summons tells your spouse they are being asked for a divorce and that they are being asked to respond to the papers and appear in court. The documents are filed with the court and must be legally served to your spouse.
Service of divorce papers in North Carolina is usually done by a sheriff who gives the papers to your spouse. Sometimes people can be hard to locate and may even try to avoid service of process. If your spouse cannot be served by the sheriff, there are alternatives. Certified mail or a delivery service can also be used. If that doesn’t work, the court can authorize service by publication. This means that the documents are published in a newspaper chosen by the court.
When your spouse is served the divorce papers, they have a limited period of time (30 days) in which to respond. This is their chance to reply to what you’re asking for and tell the court what they think would be fair in terms of custody and visitation, child support, alimony, and property division. If your spouse doesn’t respond to the court papers, then your divorce moves ahead without them and becomes an uncontested divorce. They lose their opportunity to take part in the process and share their opinion with the court. The court will move forward and decide all of the issues and grant the divorce based only on the information and requests that you make.
The judge issues a judgment of divorce which contains the final terms of your divorce. This is a legally binding document for both of you, even if your spouse did not participate in the process. The judgment of divorce is sent to both you, but there is no need to sign anything.
Divorce affects many aspects of your life and is a complicated legal process. To ensure all of your rights are protected, you need an experienced North Carolina family lawyer who can get you the best possible outcome. The Breeden Law Office is ready to take your divorce case.
Call (919) 205-5254 to schedule an appointment to talk about your case.