The decision to file for divorce is not always an easy one. Often, you’ve been struggling for months or years and are finally ready to stop fighting. If you have never filed for divorce before, you probably have no idea what to expect after you file. Here are three things you need to know about the divorce process, including the time it is going to take and the benefits of having an experienced attorney on your side.
It Usually Takes a While
To file for an absolute divorce in North Carolina, you and your spouse must have lived in the state for at least 6 months and be separated for at least 12 months. After the divorce complaint is filed with the clerk of court in the county of your residence, there is a period of time, usually 40 days, before you or your attorney may appear in court and obtain a divorce.
Once all of the designated time has passed, the parties to the divorce are generally beholden to the court’s calendar. Depending on how loaded the dockets are in your particular county, it can take months (and in some cases years) before all of the issues in your case can be heard by a judge. If one or both parties are looking for a fight, expect the fight to be lengthy.
You Can Speed Up the Process
The more the parties fight, the longer (and more expensive) the divorce often becomes.
On the flip side, a divorce can be handled and completed rather quickly after the 12 month separation period if the parties are willing to do some homework beforehand. If a couple can negotiate a contract known as a Separation Agreement that deals with all of the relevant divorce litigation issues (alimony, marital property, child custody, etc.), then court calendars become irrelevant.
A settlement or agreement on these major issues can drastically shorten the process as well as keep costs down. However, there is no law requiring a couple to sign a separation agreement. If you and your spouse cannot agree, the issue must be settled through the court system.
It is Important to Have Help
Whether you are in for a fight or intend to negotiate, it is important to have an experienced attorney in your corner to guide you through the process.
Divorce cases are often complex, labor-intensive, and come with a myriad of important filing deadlines. Navigating the process alone turns an already difficult situation into even more of an uphill battle.
If you are ready to file for divorce, our experienced divorce attorneys can help you with your next steps. Call 704-512-0606 to set up a consultation.