Divorce Law in North Carolina

How to Find a North Carolina Divorce Attorney

North Carolina residents, John and Elizabeth Edwards, and their ugly divorce made headlines. Fortunately, you have the option of handling your life and your divorce differently. However, if you are considering divorce and are researching North Carolina divorce lawyers, you are also likely highly stressed and unsure of how to proceed.

Is this sounds like you, this article (which is based upon North Carolina divorce law) is for you. We'll discuss:

  • North Carolina specific divorce law requirements;
  • What you need to know about divorce; and
  • Whether it's in your best interest to hire a North Carolina divorce lawyer and, if so, how to find one and how to prepare to work with him or her.

North Carolina Divorce Law Specifics

  • Either you or your spouse must have resided in North Carolina for at least 6 months prior to the divorce filing. You can file in the county where you reside or where your spouse resides.
  • The divorce petition must include either "no-fault" or "fault" grounds for divorce.
    • To be eligible for "no-fault", you and your spouse must have lived apart for at least one year.
    • To be eligible for a "fault" divorce, your spouse must have been abusive, a drunk or drug user, deserted you, forced you out of the marital home, or committed adultery.
  • Even if you're angry and your spouse has behaved badly, it may be in your best interests to file for a "no-fault" divorce. Consult with a qualified divorce attorney to determine the best grounds in your individual situation.
  • The divorce papers are filed in the General Court of Justice. Unfortunately, the courts still require the use of the terms "plaintiff" and "defendant".
  • In North Carolina, property distribution will be based upon what's "equitable" (i.e. fair) and child support will be based upon the Income Shares Model.
  • Alimony may be awarded, depending on the circumstances of your family.

What You Need to Know About Divorce, in General

In this section, we'll highlight those mindsets you can create within yourself to ease the animosity of divorce, get you what you want and need, and keep your legal bills to a minimum.

You are in control of your actions and reactions.

  • The emotional impact of divorce is best addressed by a therapist, and not by your divorce lawyer and not by your children.
  • Be prepared to compromise and cooperate. By saying "yes", you'll get more of what you want and need.
  • Practice effective communication. Say what you really mean to say, but only say what you need to say to get what you want.
  • Hire a divorce attorney who will help you to do these things, not someone who will stir the pot and further alienate your spouse.

Is it in Your Best Interests to Work with a North Carolina Divorce Lawyer?

If you're sick or want to stay well, it's wise to work with a medical doctor. If you have income tax questions, it's wise to work with a CPA. If you are working within the legal system or need to know your rights and options, it's wise to work with a lawyer.

Seeking the advice and counsel of a professional is likely always in your best interests.

Technically, you are able to represent yourself through a North Carolina divorce; in practicality, it's likely a very bad idea.

Even attorneys who go through divorce hire divorce lawyers. One mistake may cost you tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars and time with your children.

If you give up any marital rights during divorce, you may be forever barred from asserting them in North Carolina courts.

How to Find and Select a North Carolina Divorce Attorney

The fastest and easiest way to get a list of attorneys is to do an Internet search for "How to Find a North Carolina Divorce Attorney". You can also ask friends or the bar association for referrals.

Then, to make your selection, chat with a few attorneys with whom you'd be interested in working and ask questions.

  • Focus on attorneys who focus their practice on divorce law/family law and have experience.
  • Scout for an attorney who encourages cooperation, but will be assertive when necessary.
  • Look for someone with whom you feel comfortable.

How to Prepare to Work with Your Divorce Attorney

If you're like most people going through divorce, you don't realize it; however, you are, indeed, in control.

You can choose to cooperate, collaborate, and communicate. If you do so, you will make all the difference in keeping your stress, family anxiety, and legal bills to a minimum.

For example,

  • Make sure all reconciliation attempts have been exhausted.
  • Consult with a therapist or psychologist to deal with the emotional aspects of divorce.
  • Either communicate directly with your spouse or have your attorney handle communications; don't use your children to take messages.
  • Gather financial papers, documenting assets, income, debts, and expenses.
  • List everything you would like in the divorce, while knowing compromise is required.
  • List questions and concerns to address with your lawyer during your next conversation.
  • Always be thinking, "communication, collaboration, compromise", even if you need to do these 3 things through you're attorney. That's okay.

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