Going through a separation and divorce can be one of the most stressful experiences of your life. Our team of Greensboro family attorneys has experience navigating the North Carolina legal system. While we can’t promise that this will be a tension-free experience, we can promise to make the legal aspect of your divorce easier. We work hard to ensure you get the best resolution possible so you can move on to happier stages of your life.
Here’s some information to help you start the process. Keep in mind that we can’t give you specific advice about your case online. However, we would love to speak to you about your legal needs and set up an initial consultation.
The First Steps of Divorce in North Carolina
Before you file for divorce in North Carolina, you need to be separated from your partner. You’ll need to live apart from your spouse for at least one year, and one of you must be a North Carolina resident for at least six months. You can both move out of your current home, or one spouse can remain in the home while the other moves out. This can create some complexities if you have a joint mortgage or rental contract, so it makes sense to start this process as soon as you begin considering a divorce. If you decide to remain married, you can always move in together again.
During your separation, you can take legal action for child support and spousal support, otherwise known as alimony. At this point, you can also begin separating your assets and make child custody decisions. Although you can’t terminate your marriage yet, you can treat this period as a formal split from your partner.
Once you physically separate for one year, either party can file for divorce or have a divorce attorney file on their behalf. You don’t legally need to hire a lawyer in order to get a divorce. However, a divorce attorney can guide you through the process, which can get complicated. At the very least, an attorney can ensure that you properly file the divorce paperwork. Keep in mind that if your former partner hires the attorney, this attorney works for your former partner, not you. An attorney can’t work for both parties. So, it makes sense for you to have legal representation as well, simply to ensure that all agreements are fair.
Child Support and Custody During a Separation
Even if your separation is amicable, child support and custody discussions can be emotional. Our goal is to help you find a solution that is in the best interest of your child or children. In North Carolina, most couples can use the state-provided child support chart to determine how much money the custodial parent will receive. Things that are taken into account when calculating child support are the incomes of both parties and the cost of health insurance for the child and day care. However, other factors, such as extraordinary medical costs, can alter the amount of support.
Along with child support, you and the other parent will need to determine a custody arrangement. In some cases, it makes sense for parents to share custody, where the child splits their nights between sleeping at each household. If the child spends at least 123 nights at each house, this is joint custody. However, this is often not the best situation for the child, especially if the homes are not within the same school district. One parent or the other may have primary physical custody of the child. If you have more than one child, you may also seek a split custody agreement, where one child lives with one parent and the other child lives with the other parent. Custody agreements will affect the amount of child support you pay or receive.
Physical custody is just one part of custody. You’ll also need to decide “legal custody,” which is often shared equally between parents even if one parent has primary physical custody. Legal custody refers to making legal decisions about the child. This includes education, religious, and medical decisions. Start these conversations with your spouse as soon as you decide to separate, with guidance from our legal team, in order to keep your child’s life as stable as possible.
This article has more tips about child custody laws here in North Carolina.
Property Division and Spousal Support
Asset division during a divorce can be complicated. Equally, spousal support is not always a clear-cut decision. We’re here to help. Our team of Greensboro family attorneys has experience with both property division and alimony agreements here in North Carolina.
During your separation, you can start dividing your property. The courts put all property into three categories:
- Marital – all property/money acquired during the marriage and before the date of separation
- Divisible – passive appreciation or depreciation on marital property experienced after the date of separation or interest or dividend income from marital property earned after the date of separation
- Separate – all property/money acquired separately before the marriage, after the marriage, or as a gift to an individual
When the courts divide property, they take several factors into consideration, such as the length of the marriage and what each partner contributed. This is also true of spousal support. In essence, alimony takes into consideration that one spouse may have taken on household and parenting duties rather than bringing money into a relationship. If your former partner brought more money into the marriage, you may be entitled to this kind of support.
FAQs about Hiring Greensboro Family Attorneys
We highly recommend reaching out to set up a consultation about your specific case. However, here are a couple questions our clients frequently ask about working with Greensboro family attorneys:
What can divorce attorneys do to help if our divorce is amicable?
Even if your divorce is amicable, it makes sense to have an attorney on your side. We can look over all agreements and paperwork to check for mistakes that would hold up your divorce. Additionally, we have resources such as forensic accountants, real estate and business appraisers to help ensure your divorce agreements are fair.
If I don’t get the resolution I want, what can I do?
We’ll look at your case and help you understand your options. Divorces can be complicated, and it’s not possible to guarantee specific resolutions. However, we do our best to set your expectations based on the most likely outcome, as well as provide advice and resources to help you get outcomes that are fair.
Our board-certified attorneys have over 40 years of combined experience. In addition, Morgenstern & Associates is a Tier 1 firm in family law according to US News. Read more about our firm here, and contact us today to learn if we are a good fit for your case.