We recognize that divorce is often a complex and heartbreaking subject for our clients. Maybe you are already engaged in the process, or perhaps you are simply beginning to gather basic information. Since the legal complexities and emotional issues can understandably lead to confusion for anyone, it is important that you seek professional legal advice to help guide you. Call the Law Offices of Ryan B. Addison to schedule an initial consultation.
Before you make the decision to separate in North Carolina, there are several important issues you should consider: where will you live? Can you support yourself (and your children, if any) financially? What will you tell your children? Many people contemplating separation find it helpful to seek advice. A competent legal advisor can help you to organize your thoughts, advise you on compiling copies of important records before moving out of the house, and prepare you for any potential next steps.
Getting separated in North Carolina does not require any special legal action. The law considers you to be separated once you and your spouse begin living separately with the intent to live apart. North Carolina law requires you to be separated for one full year before you can legally file for divorce; however, you can still file a lawsuit addressing major issues such as alimony/spousal support, child support/child custody, and equitable distribution prior to divorce. You can also simply enter into a separation agreement.
Once you have been separated for at least one year, you can file a lawsuit in district court asking for a divorce. When a North Carolina divorce complaint is filed, it may include demands related to child custody/child support, alimony/spousal support, equitable distribution, and other matters related to the divorce; or, it may reference a previously executed separation agreement. If you have been served with a divorce complaint, be aware that you have a very limited amount of time to prepare. You have thirty (30) days from being served to file a response with the court. This response should include any counterclaims (claims against your current spouse) because some claims, such as equitable distribution and alimony, are permanently cut off if you do not assert them before finalization of the divorce.