One of the main concerns when facing the prospect of a divorce is the various costs. Most divorces divide a two-income household and can change living standards. For many, the cost of a divorce is an immediate concern. But the cost of not having trusted legal guidance during a divorce can be much greater in the long run.
The biggest divorce expense is the attorney’s fees, which are charged at an hourly rate. The number of hours required to handle your divorce will depend on the case’s complexity. A contested divorce with numerous issues in dispute involves more time and expense than an uncontested divorce.
On average, divorce lawyers in North Carolina charge $550 per hour. Those rates are close to the national average for divorce attorneys. Based on hourly charges, uncontested divorces cost less. The more time spent negotiating disputed issues, the higher the final bill.
An option is to request a flat fee. As you interview lawyers and prepare to choose a divorce lawyer to represent you, ask whether they offer an option for a flat fee.
At Charles R. Ullman & Associates, we can help you navigate the seemingly overwhelming divorce process. We can provide you with strength, support, and a view of the road ahead. Let our experienced divorce attorneys in Raleigh, N.C., help you move forward. Contact us today to get started.
How Quick Is a Divorce in North Carolina?
The first thing to understand about divorce in North Carolina is that a couple must be separated for 12 months before they can divorce. Separation requires living apart in different households. Additionally, one of the parties to the divorce must have lived in the county where divorce papers are filed for at least six months.
After separation, an uncontested divorce can be concluded in about six weeks. However, this assumes that the work necessary to present a separation agreement in family law court has been done during the year you have been separated.
Following a 12-month separation, the divorce process in North Carolina requires the following:
- Gathering information and completing and filing necessary forms – about 3 days
- Filing papers with county Clerk of Court – 1 business day
- Mail or serve divorce papers to the other party – about 4 days
- Schedule court hearing – at least 41 days after divorce papers were served
- Attend the hearing, sign documents, and get the judge’s final sign-off – half a day
What’s The Cheapest a Divorce Can Cost?
It is possible to obtain a divorce on your own. But having a lawyer to advise you can prevent you from making a costly misstep during the process.
Filing for a simple absolute divorce in North Carolina requires a $225 filing fee. It costs another $30 to have divorce papers served on the other party by a deputy sheriff or $7 to serve them by certified mail. If you want to change your name after divorcing, there will be an additional $10 fee.
This applies to a divorce in which there is no dispute between the parties and thorny issues such as property division, child custody, or spousal support do not exist.
Do I Need a Lawyer To Get Divorced In North Carolina?
There is no legal requirement to be represented by a lawyer in a divorce court. But if any issue of your divorce is in dispute, such as the division of marital property, responsibility for debts, or payment of alimony, you will benefit from experienced legal representation.
If you go to court without a lawyer, the judge will make decisions about your life according to their interpretation of the law, with your and your spouse’s input. Once a judge signs your final divorce papers, you cannot change the terms of your divorce if you later decide you should have sought spousal support or you deserve to have personal property you gave up.
Hiring a lawyer ensures that you will be informed as to the options available to you every step of the way during your divorce. You will have someone standing up for you and ensuring your rights are upheld.
Do You Have To Wait a Year To Get Divorced?
An absolute divorce in North Carolina requires one year of separation. However, in an abusive marriage, you may seek a legal separation known as a divorce from bed and board that entitles the injured spouse to many of the benefits of an absolute divorce, including alimony, distribution of marital assets, child custody, child support, and attorney’s fees.
Under North Carolina law, a spouse may seek divorce from bed and board if the other spouse has committed at least one of the following acts:
- Abandoned his or her family
- Maliciously thrown the injured spouse out of the home
- Endangered the injured spouse’s life with cruel treatment such as physical abuse
- Inflicted emotional or psychological abuse on the injured spouse that are intolerable and a burden on their life
- Used alcohol or drugs at a level of excess that the injured spouse finds intolerable and a burden on their life
- Committed adultery
A divorce from bed and board is an economic separation. It does not end the marriage. It does not allow either spouse to remarry. But a divorce from bed and board severs some rights spouses normally have with regard to each other’s estates.
Is It Better To File For Divorce First In NC?
In a typical divorce in which a couple separates for a year, crafts a separation agreement, and then proceeds to divorce, it doesn’t matter who files the initial divorce papers.
In a contentious divorce or a marriage marred by abuse, there are legal steps to take to protect yourself, which would coincide with filing for divorce. Two examples are:
- Obtaining a Restraining Order. In a violent relationship, you may ask a judge to issue a Domestic Violence Protective Order (known as a “50B order”) to order your spouse to stay away from you, your home, your children, or your place of business.
- Requesting a Standing Order. This prevents either spouse from making changes to beneficiaries on policies such as life insurance or retirement accounts; selling, borrowing against, or transferring property; changing bank accounts; and other similar financial moves.
Another advantage of filing for divorce is that you decide where you’ll litigate the divorce. If your spouse has moved far away during separation, you can ensure that your divorce proceedings take place where you live by filing first.
Get in Contact with Our Experienced Lawyers in Raleigh
At Charles R. Ullman & Associates, we recognize that when it comes to divorce, the financial consequences for you and your family are serious. We’re here to help. If you would like more information or a confidential consultation with one of our Raleigh divorce lawyers, contact us by calling (855) 928-0531 or filling out our online contact form.