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Smart, Tough Divorce Counsel For Clients In Raleigh And The Triangle

Divorce is often an emotionally difficult process. At Daphne Edwards Divorce & Family Law, PC, our Wake County divorce lawyer is committed to helping clients navigate their way through it.

Daphne Edwards has decades of experience advocating for clients throughout the Raleigh area with strength, tenacity and compassion. You can turn to her for smart counsel at every step of the divorce process in North Carolina, from legal separation to post-judgment modifications.

Legal Separation In North Carolina: What To Know

In North Carolina, a spouse who seeks a divorce must prove that they were legally separated from their partner for a minimum of one year. This involves:

  • Living in a separate dwelling from your spouse for at least one year
  • Not resuming marital relations during that period
  • At least one spouse having the intent to end the marriage
  • At least one spouse residing in North Carolina for at least six months prior to filing the divorce action

After the period of legal separation, a spouse may file a complaint for an absolute divorce. The defendant must be served with a copy of the divorce complaint and summons, and they have 30 days to respond. The divorce case will be scheduled for a hearing, and the court in Wake County may enter a judgment according to Rule 56 (summary judgment) or at trial.

North Carolina Divorce FAQs

Below are a few questions that our lawyer often receives. If you want to know more, contact us to set up an appointment with her.

How long do we have to be separated before we can divorce?

In North Carolina, you can obtain a divorce after at least 12 months of legal separation. Under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-6, an absolute divorce may be granted “if and when the husband and wife have lived separate and apart for one year, and the plaintiff or defendant in the suit for divorce has resided in the state for six months.”

What is a Rule 56 motion?

If your family law attorney files a Rule 56 motion, then the party who filed the complaint does not have to go to court for the hearing. Otherwise, the plaintiff will testify to the court that they meet all the requirements to obtain the absolute divorce. The only proof required to show the one-year legal separation is the plaintiff’s testimony.

What happens after I file for divorce?

Filing the divorce complaint only changes the legal status of the parties. It does not address other issues often involved in a divorce, such as alimony and property division. The court may grant absolute divorce before a determination of these factors.

However, the failure to file a claim for alimony and property division before the entry of an absolute divorce judgment will bar the right to assert those claims. This means that a spouse who seeks an equitable distribution of property and alimony loses the right to assert these claims if the court grants an absolute divorce judgment before filing such claims. Thus, it is vitally important for clients seeking alimony and property division to file these claims before the entry of the absolute divorce judgment.

What are the methods of divorce?

Most people think of a trial when they think of divorce. Trials are not always necessary. You might consider other methods of divorce, such as:

  • Divorce mediation: Spouses and their divorce lawyers sit with a neutral mediator to arrive at mutually satisfactory agreements.
  • Collaborative divorce: Spouses work together to negotiate a divorce settlement privately.

If these methods are not fruitful, traditional litigation is the other option. It involves appearing before a family law judge to receive a divorce decree.

How do North Carolina family law courts divide assets?

North Carolina is an equitable property state. This means that all marital assets – or, assets acquired after the marriage excepting those such as inheritances – are subject to equitable division. Equitable distribution does not necessarily have to result in a 50-50 split. One spouse may receive more or less depending on factors such as:

  • Separate assets
  • Their contributions to the marital estate
  • Their earning potential
  • Whether they supported their spouse’s education financially
  • Tax considerations

Judges have a great deal of leeway in equitable division, so you will need a property division lawyer who can advocate for your rights.

What is a divorce decree?

A divorce decree is a court order that officially terminates the marital relationship and outlines the terms of the divorce, such as child custody, child support, alimony, and property division. The final divorce decree is typically issued after all legal requirements have been met and the court is satisfied with the terms of the divorce settlement.

When does a divorce decree expire?

A divorce decree does not expire. The decree remains valid and enforceable indefinitely. Once the court enters the divorce decree, it becomes a legally binding document that both parties must follow. However, it is essential to understand that certain provisions within the divorce decree may have expiration dates or conditions that trigger modifications. For example, child support or alimony orders may specify an end date or may require modification based on significant changes in circumstances, such as a change in income or employment status of either spouse.

What if my ex is not complying with the divorce order?

If either party fails to comply with the terms of the divorce decree, the other party can seek enforcement through the court. This may involve filing a motion to enforce the court order and requesting penalties or modifications, depending on the circumstances. It’s crucial for both parties to understand the obligations outlined in the divorce decree and to comply with its terms to avoid legal complications. If there are any concerns or questions about the divorce decree, consulting with a family law attorney can provide clarity and guidance on the best course of action.

Get More Knowledgeable Answers To Your Questions

Our experienced Raleigh divorce lawyer is ready to help you fight for your rights and interests. For answers to your specific divorce-related questions or other family law issues, call us at 919-891-8552 or schedule a consultation online.