Your Divorce Questions – Answered

Anyone facing the process of separation and divorce likely has many questions. As experienced family law attorneys in Charlotte, NC, we are here to help answer your questions and guide you through the often difficult and emotional process.

north carolina divorce attorney

What are grounds for a divorce in North Carolina?

When someone talks about divorce, they usually are referring to an Absolute Divorce. This is a complete and final end to a marriage, accompanied by a court order known as a Decree of Divorce. In North Carolina, there are only two grounds for Absolute Divorce.

The first is Incurable Insanity. If a married couple has lived separate and apart for 3 years as a result of the incurable insanity of one spouse, an absolute divorce may be granted. Proving incurable insanity requires expert testimony from two doctors about the nature of the insanity, and one of those doctors must be a psychiatrist from one of North Carolina’s four-year medical schools.

The second, and more common, is separation for one year. Either spouse may be granted an Absolute Divorce if the married couple has lived separate and apart for 1 year. One of the spouses must also have been a resident of North Carolina for the six months immediately prior to the filing of the Complaint for Absolute Divorce. In order to receive a divorce based on one year of separation, the parties must have actually lived separately and not maintained the appearance of a marital relationship for one year. Unlike other states, North Carolina does not recognize a separation if the parties live in separate areas of the same house or sleep in separate bedrooms.

What will the process be like?

There is no “typical” divorce process, because it will depend on a number of factors, like marital and separate property, and whether there are children involved. Our attorneys believe that the best way to handle your family law matter is through a personalized approach guided by sound professional advice.  Our attorneys are responsive, engaged, and attentive, and focus on working closely with our clients to meet their individualized needs.  With each case, we develop a game plan to achieve the results that are most important to you and provide you with a clear picture of how to move forward through the legal process.

How does child custody work in North Carolina?

Your kids’ well-being during the divorce process is likely atop the list of your concerns. Child Custody involves two main categories: Legal Custody and Physical Custody.  Legal Custody gives one or both parents the right to make legal decisions for the child.  These decisions involve education, health care, religion, and the child’s general welfare.  Physical Custody relates to where the child resides.

Either or both of these types of custody can be shared under a joint custody arrangement. Typically, under a joint legal custody arrangement, neither parent has a superior right to make major decisions.  Instead, joint custody arrangements typically outline a procedure for resolving conflicts.

What is equitable distribution and how does it affect my assets and finances?

North Carolina follows the equitable distribution (ED)  method of distributing property and assets following a divorce.  In an action for ED, the Court must first classify property as either marital or separate property as defined by statute.  Next, the Court must divide the marital property equally, unless it determines that an equal distribution is not equitable.  Separate property, on the other hand is not subject to ED.

Equitable distribution can be complex. If you are considering separation or divorce, it is best to consult with a professional you can trust.  You’ve worked hard to earn the life you’ve built and to secure the future you’ve planned. Trust our experienced family law attorneys to help protect your assets and see you through this difficult time.

How is marital property versus separate property determined in equitable distribution?

“Marital property” is all real and personal property acquired by either spouse or both spouses during the course of the marriage and before the date of separation of the parties. “Separate property” means all real and personal property acquired by a spouse before marriage or acquired by a spouse by bequest, devise, descent or gift during the course of the marriage.  Property acquired in exchange for separate property is separate property, as is income from separate property and passive increases in the value of separate property.

Can my child support award ever be changed?

North Carolina allows an award of child support to be modified or vacated at any time.  Modifying child support is permissible when there is a substantial change in circumstances regarding the child’s needs or the parents’ financial situations.  The burden to substantiate the change in circumstances is on the parent requesting the modification.

Contact us today for more information about a family law matter or if you are considering separation or divorce.