Sometimes, couples want to divorce but do not want to fight with each other. They are on the same page about property division and arrangements for their children and have already put them in writing, or the property doesn’t justify the expense of a full separation agreement. For couples in this position, an uncontested divorce can be a great option.
Divorce is a legal proceeding even when it is uncontested, and the couple should consult an attorney during their separation to be sure they comply with legal requirements.
At Apple Payne Law, our attorneys are dedicated to helping families navigate life’s important decisions. Our Kernersville uncontested divorce lawyer can review the tasks the couple must complete before filing for their divorce, answer any questions, and handle the filing and hearing if the couple chooses.
A seasoned attorney can explain the legal requirements for a couple planning to file for divorce locally. North Carolina law requires spouses to live separately and apart for one year before they get a divorce. This means the spouses must have different residences to prove they have been separated for a year before divorcing.
Additionally, one of the spouses must have lived in the state for six months before the divorce filing. Either spouse can live here, and the spouse who files does not need to be the spouse who resides in the state.
North Carolina Statute § 50.6 states that the act of living apart from each other for a year is a legal ground for divorce. Living apart for at least three years due to one partner’s incurable insanity is the only other ground for divorce the state recognizes. Spouses no longer need to prove that one of them is responsible for the end of the marriage. An uncontested divorce lawyer can help Kernersville couples determine whether they meet the legal requirements to file for divorce.
The legal relationship of marriage requires the couple to untangle their financial affairs and encourages clear, supportive arrangements for their children. A couple who can accomplish that before filing for divorce could seek an uncontested divorce with the help of an experienced Kernersville attorney.
The law anticipates couples will divide their marital property equitably, but the parties may make any agreement they desire if both partners enter them willingly and without duress. A couple could arrange for ongoing spousal support or waive it, and a court will almost always respect their wishes, particularly if the agreement is drafted by counsel and submitted to the Court. If there is a disagreement, it must be filed with the court before the divorce is filed or claims for spousal support, alimony or property distribution are irrevocably waived forever. It’s important if this is the case to speak to a divorce lawyer before you file an “uncontested” divorce.
Any agreement that impacts children must support their best interests, and a judge is permitted to review child custody and support agreements to ensure the children’s best interests (either at the time of filing or upon request of either parent. Both parents must contribute financially to their children’s support, and the state publishes minimum child support requirements in State Guidelines. Child support agreements that require no support or waive rights to child support are generally unenforceable in North Carolina unless the parties’ income is substantially equal or other considerations are met. Additionally, Courts favor shared, equal (50/50) custody arrangements to preserve the children’s relationships with both parents unless one parent is proven unfit. Unlike agreements for property or spousal support/alimony, the Court always has jurisdiction to review the custody and child support agreements regarding minor children.
When a couple has agreed to the terms of their uncontested divorce, it is wise to consult a Kernersville lawyer before filing for divorce. A legal professional can review their agreements, make sure each spouse understands the terms and implications, and ensure the agreement(s) will pass legal scrutiny.
When the couple has signed written agreements on all relevant issues, one spouse could file a Complaint for Absolute Divorce. The spouse or their attorney files the Complaint and the couple’s agreements in the General Court of Justice, Civil Division, in the county where either spouse lives.
An attorney would attend the hearing on behalf of the client and the clients are generally not required to attend the hearing at all. A judge will review the couple’s documents and, if they meet with approval, sign the final Divorce Decree. The Decree can incorporate the couple’s agreements as enforceable court orders – but does NOT by default. If you think you want your agreement to be an enforceable court order (instead of just a contract), be sure to consult with an attorney first before filing for divorce.
An uncontested divorce can save you and your ex-spouse a lot of time, money, stress, and hard feelings. However, if you make a mistake with filing, service, or procedure, or fail to consider other important issues, a judge might not approve your uncontested divorce and suggest you speak with an attorney, as the clerks and judges are forbidden from giving legal advice.
A skilled Kernersville uncontested divorce lawyer can help ensure all legal requirements are met and keep things running smoothly. Contact Apple Payne Law today to get started.