In order to obtain an absolute divorce in North Carolina, a spouse just needs to prove that they have been living apart from one another for at least a year with the goal of divorcing. To eliminate any uncertainty over one spouse’s intention to split, the couple should live apart and in different homes. The question of whether there has been a reconciliation is based on the whole circumstances, but if separated spouses spend several nights together, a court may rule that they have reconciled, and they will have to begin the one-year period of separation prior to filing again.
Absolute divorce refers to the legal termination of a marriage, allowing both parties to become single individuals again and freeing them from the legal responsibilities and constraints of marriage. It differs from a legal separation, where the couple remains married but lives separately.
Although it may be advantageous to settle concerns of child custody, property division, post separation support, and alimony in a written and binding Separation and Property Settlement Agreement before the end of the one-year period of separation when a divorce can be filed, spouses are not required to draft formal documents for a “legal separation.”
The divorce judgment extinguishes rights to spousal support and property division claims if they have not been settled prior to the filing of a complaint for absolute divorce. If these claims have not been filed, settled, or are still pending at the time of the divorce, a lawsuit for these claims must be filed before the divorce judgment is entered.
The Specifics of Absolute Divorce
The specifics of absolute divorce can vary significantly depending on the jurisdiction, as family law is primarily governed by state or country laws. However, there are some common elements and considerations that often apply in absolute divorce cases. Keep in mind that the information provided here is general, and you should consult with a legal professional for advice specific to your situation and jurisdiction. Here are some key aspects:
Grounds for Divorce
Many jurisdictions allow for “no-fault” divorce, where neither party needs to prove that the other spouse did something wrong to justify the divorce. Common reasons include irreconcilable differences, irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, or separation for a specified period.
In some places, a spouse may be required to prove that the other committed a specific wrongdoing, such as adultery, cruelty, abandonment, or substance abuse.
Some jurisdictions have residency requirements that must be met before filing for divorce. One or both spouses may need to have lived in the jurisdiction for a certain period.
In some cases, a period of legal separation may be required before filing for absolute divorce. During this time, the couple lives separately, but the marriage is not officially terminated.
The division of marital property, assets, and debts is a crucial aspect of divorce. Some jurisdictions follow community property principles (where marital property is divided equally), while others follow equitable distribution (where the court determines a fair, but not necessarily equal, division).
Spousal Support (Alimony)
The court may consider factors such as the length of the marriage, the financial situation of each spouse, and contributions to the marriage when determining if spousal support is warranted and in what amount.
If the couple has children, issues of child custody and support will need to be addressed. The court will consider the best interests of the child when making decisions about custody and visitation.
Filing for divorce typically involves submitting a petition or complaint to the court. The other spouse must be formally served with the divorce papers, and there may be a waiting period before the divorce is finalized.
The divorce process may involve court hearings where both parties present their cases. This can include discussions on property division, alimony, and child-related matters.
Prior to filing for divorce, at least one of the spouses had to have resided in North Carolina for a minimum of six months. A divorce in North Carolina can still be granted as long as one spouse stays in the state during the separation, even if they move out of state. Most absolute divorces are granted in less than three months, and the procedure of getting one is usually simple and expeditious.
To protect your legal rights, you should speak with an attorney as soon as you get a divorce complaint and make sure your response is filed on time. It is crucial to bring up several grounds of action prior to the granting of a divorce judgment since, as previously stated, they may be barred after the entry of an absolute divorce.
Frequently Asked Questions About Absolute Divorce
1. What is absolute divorce?
Absolute divorce is the legal termination of a marriage, allowing both parties to return to single status and freeing them from the legal responsibilities of marriage.
2. How is absolute divorce different from legal separation?
In legal separation, spouses live separately but remain married. Absolute divorce is the complete dissolution of the marriage, severing all legal ties.
3. What are the grounds for absolute divorce?
Grounds for divorce vary by jurisdiction. In many places, no-fault grounds, such as irreconcilable differences, are accepted. Some jurisdictions also recognize fault-based grounds like adultery or cruelty.
4. Do I need a reason to get an absolute divorce?
Requirements vary. In no-fault jurisdictions, you may not need to provide a specific reason. In fault-based jurisdictions, you may need to prove wrongdoing by your spouse.
5. Do both spouses have to agree to the divorce?
Not necessarily. In many jurisdictions, one spouse can file for divorce even if the other disagrees. However, the process may be more straightforward if both parties agree.
6. What is the process for filing for absolute divorce?
The process involves filing a petition or complaint with the court, serving notice to the other party, and attending court hearings. The specific steps depend on jurisdiction.
7. How long does it take to get an absolute divorce?
The timeline varies widely. It can be relatively quick in uncontested cases but may take longer if there are disputes over issues like property division or child custody.