4 Steps to Getting a Divorce in North Carolina

Marriage is a rite of passage – a milestone that so many people in Durham, NC look forward to as they enter their 20s and 30s. In fact, more than 90 percent of people will marry by the age of 50. And, for the most part, a healthy marriage is good for your overall physical and mental health. A healthy marriage can lead to a healthy family, and children that are raised in a happy home are said to have fewer mental, physical, educational and social problems. That said, about 40 to 50 percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce (even more if you include those who are married subsequent times).

Hollywood often portrays the divorce process as lengthy and dramatic, and it certainly can be for some couples. But, it doesn’t have to be. Divorce in North Carolina is a pretty straight forward process if you and your spouse can agree to the terms and conditions of your separation. As such, today we’ll discuss the 4 simple steps required to get a divorce in Durham, North Carolina.

divorce in durham

Step 1: Physically Separate

Once a married couple decides to end their marriage in divorce, they must first become physically separated. The couple can no longer cohabitate and must live in separate residences in order for the state of North Carolina to legally recognize the separation. It should be noted that a couple can be physically separated but not necessarily legally separated in our state until one of the parties obtains a “divorce from bed and board.”

There are a number of reasons that could be sited to obtain a legal separation including but not limited to abandonment, cruel and barbarous treatment, drug abuse, adultery, or engaging in a pattern of conduct that makes living conditions “intolerable and life burdensome.” Furthermore, a legal separation does not provide grounds for either spouse to remarry, but it does allow you to obtain orders for post-separation support, alimony, asset division, child custody or child support.

Step 2: Hire a Divorce Attorney in Durham, NC 

Actually, you may want to hire an attorney before you separate to help guide you through the process. However, it is not always necessary to have a divorce lawyer in order to get a divorce. Sometimes, simply asking the right questions and getting help from document preparers who will ensure your interests are represented is all that is required. However, even the most straight forward situations can become complicated, so you may want to seek assistance from an attorney in Durham just to be safe.

Once you’ve hired an attorney (or a legal document preparer), you’ll need to start collecting the following information:

  • Assets (property, savings, investments, etc)
  • Spousal Support (if necessary)
  • Debt
  • Legal Decision Making
  • Child Support
  • Parenting Time

Step 3. File a Divorce Complaint with the Clerk of Court in Your County.

Your next step will be to obtain an absolute divorce in Durham, which requires that one spouse files a complaint with the Clerk of Court in the county of residence. Your divorce attorney can do this on your behalf. The county Sheriff or a deputy will then serve divorce “papers” to the other spouse (typically delivered via certified mail).

Once you’ve been physically separated for at least 12 consecutive months, either spouse can then file for a legal divorce. Please note that the 12-month physical separation requirement in North Carolina resets if the couple chooses to move back in together (this does not include isolated incidents of marital relations).

Step 4: Finalize the Process and Appear Before the Judge

Before standing before a judge, you and your spouse will be required to finalize all decisions and agreements as it relates to the division of assets, child custody, alimony, etc. In many cases, these decisions can be made outside of court with the support of a mediator. However, if you cannot come to an agreement in this way, you’ll be required to attend a hearing in front of a judge to present evidence that supports your petition for divorce. A judge will decide how everything is divided, who will have custody of your children and then grant you a divorce in Durham.

If you want to know how do you get a divorce in NC, turn to us for help. Durham Divorce lawyer, Kevin E. Jones can help you resolve a divorce or child custody issue. We can also help with your insurance, injury and other legal matters in an ethical and proper manner. Don’t let your health, finances and overall wellbeing suffer because you’re unaware of your legal rights. Contact Kevin E Jones before making any final decisions.