To divorce in North Carolina, a couple must live physically apart for a year. After a year has passed, the work necessary to conclude an uncontested divorce, including obtaining a judge’s divorce decree, can be completed in less than 60 days.
North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state. A couple that wants to end a marriage can do so without demonstrating that either party has caused the marriage to fail. However, there are certain legal requirements that must be completed to the satisfaction of the court before a divorce may be granted in North Carolina.
The best way to ensure your uncontested divorce proceeds as efficiently as possible is for each party to obtain the assistance of an experienced North Carolina divorce lawyer. A single attorney cannot represent you both because your divorce attorney is obligated to protect your rights and interests from demands your spouse may make in a separation agreement. Even an uncontested divorce can be financially devastating to one or both spouses if not handled correctly.
The family law attorneys of Charles R. Ullman & Associates in Raleigh, N.C., can guide you through the divorce process in North Carolina while protecting your rights and interests. Contact us for a discussion of your uncontested divorce today.
Filing for Divorce in North Carolina
To seek an uncontested divorce in North Carolina, you need to:
- Live separately and apart for at least 12 months.
- File divorce papers and have them served on the other spouse.
- Prepare a separation agreement containing the terms of the divorce. There are several issues that must be addressed in a separation agreement, and the work required may be done during the year of separation or later.
- Attend a hearing, at which a judge should issue an order making your settlement agreement a binding legal agreement and granting your final divorce.
After a married couple in North Carolina has lived apart for at least 12 consecutive months, with at least one of them intending for the separation to be permanent, either spouse may then file for a legal divorce.
To initiate divorce proceedings in North Carolina, one spouse must file a divorce complaint with the Clerk of Court in the county of their residence. A divorce attorney may file the notice on behalf of a client. The county Sheriff’s Office will then serve the divorce complaint upon the other spouse.
Thirty days after a divorce complaint has been served, the spouse filing for divorce may request a hearing.
Requirements of a Separation Agreement in an N.C. Divorce
A divorce is considered uncontested when the parties agree on all issues that must be addressed in their separation agreement, including:
- Child custody and visitation
- Child support
- Division of property
The parties’ objective in an uncontested divorce is to draft a separation agreement that a family law judge can adopt as the basis for a final divorce order. A separation agreement must be fair to both parties to be approved.
If the divorcing couple has underage children, the separation agreement must include a parenting plan that reflects decisions about child custody, parental visitation, and child support payments. For a parenting plan to be approved, a judge must determine that it serves the best interests of the children.
A divorcing couple in North Carolina must state how they will divide their marital assets and debts acquired while they were married. By law, the separation agreement must include plans for an equitable division of marital assets. It is not allowable for one spouse to say the other can have everything.
The settlement agreement must state whether either spouse will pay the other spousal support, including how much and for how long.
Coming to an Agreement in an Uncontested Divorce
Your divorce is considered uncontested if you submit to the court a separation agreement that you have both agreed to follow. Even in the most amicable divorces, coming to an agreement on all issues can require a lot of work, particularly when there are children involved or significant marital assets.
Typically, the parties to an uncontested divorce hash out each issue in a nonconfrontational manner through negotiations aided by their separate attorneys.
If there are issues that cannot be resolved, there are alternative approaches available to resolve disputes:
- In a collaborative divorce, the parties and their attorneys develop and sign a participation agreement, which sets ground rules for working through the issues in dispute. Additional professionals, such as a financial specialist or child specialist, may be called upon to help if negotiations hit sticking points.
- In mediation, a specially trained neutral third party seeks to guide the divorcing spouses toward the resolution of disputes. Mediators often help find creative solutions to unique situations, but a mediator does not make decisions for divorcing parties. As issues are settled, the parties and their respective attorneys will determine how to incorporate the decisions into the separation agreement.
The goal for an uncontested divorce is for the judge to accept your separation agreement without changes after reviewing it and having each of you attest to your agreement. Then the judge signs the divorce order, which makes the separation agreement legally binding.
Meet With Our Raleigh Uncontested Divorce Lawyers
The Raleigh divorce lawyers at Charles R. Ullman & Associates focus solely on family law. Our firm can provide experienced counsel and a collegial atmosphere to move your uncontested divorce toward a productive resolution. Attorney Charles R. Ullman is a certified North Carolina family law specialist with experience in collaborative divorce, mediation, and arbitration. Charles R. Ullman & Associates has helped many clients with family law issues in Raleigh, Apex, Holly Springs, Fuquay-Varina, and across Wake County for more than 20 years.