Sometimes it can feel like divorce is meant to be confusing. Strange terminology, complicated statutes, tight deadlines, unwritten court rules and many other oddities tend to serve as barriers to entry for those without a legal background. For instance, in North Carolina the law refers to an "absolute divorce". What is an absolute divorce and does it differ from a normal divorce? How does someone get an absolute divorce? Are there different classifications of divorce where some people are not absolutely divorced? This is a perfect example of a seemingly straightforward concept that can become unnecessarily complicated, making it hard for many people to understand. To get more information about what absolute divorce is and how it works for families living in Iredell County, keep reading.
First, we should start by making it clear that absolute divorce is just the formal term for divorce that is used in North Carolina. An absolute divorce occurs when a judge signs off on a divorce decree. The parties are then no longer married, with the legal bond of marriage formally severed. This means that both spouses are single again before the law and do not maintain any marital duty to the other party. Once an absolute divorce has occurred, the parties are able to remarry.
North Carolina is a state that subscribes to the concept of a no-fault divorce, meaning that there is no need to prove wrongdoing to get a court to sign off on a divorce. Either party to the divorce can file and request an absolute divorce, he or she simply needs to file the proper paperwork with the court. Proving fault can take a lot of time and add unnecessary costs and stress to an already difficult process.
What must be done before you can file for absolute divorce in Mooresville? Thankfully, not very much. The first rule is that one party to the divorce, either the person filing (the plaintiff) or the defendant must have resided in North Carolina for a minimum of six months. In the vast majority of cases, this is easily achieved. What if you recently relocated to North Carolina? Can the court go ahead and hear your case anyway? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Without the requisite time in the state the family court will not have jurisdiction over the legal dispute and is not able to issue a divorce decree. Before a court can hear your case you just need to be sure that you (or your spouse) have been a resident of North Carolina for at least 6 months as of the day you file for divorce.
The second requirement for an absolute divorce may sound like a strange one. The parties need to be married. You may think that if you are considering divorce marriage is naturally assumed. Though that is true in most cases, some people may try and divorce who never bothered to formalize their marriage. Simply living together for a long period of time is not enough to allow a court to intervene and dissolve your relationship. The court will require a formal and legally recognized marriage before considering authorizing a divorce.
Third, for a couple to get a divorce in the State of North Carolina it is essential that they live separate and apart for at least 12 months. Many people wonder just how carefully this time period is scrutinized. The reality is that no proof is necessary to demonstrate the separation. You will simply need to list a date on the filing when you and your spouse separated. That said, it is important that the separation is genuine. If the court discovers that the parties to a divorce are living together as a couple, the clock will be reset and the couple will have to wait another year before filing. That means once you have separated, if you decide to return to your house and you and your partner rekindle your romance, depending on the circumstances the court may start the clock back at zero.
The final requirement for an absolute divorce is that at least one of the parties intends to remain separate and apart, meaning the party wishes to end the marriage permanently. There is no rule that this desire be mutual, and that is for a reason. If it was required that both parties wanted to divorce, then one uncooperative spouse would be able to force the other to remain trapped in an unhappy marriage. Because the law only requires that the desire to end the marriage be held by at least one party, no one can be forced to remain married against their will.
If you are facing a divorce and live in the Mooresville or Lake Norman area, consider reaching out to the experienced family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC. Our lawyers have spent years fighting for their clients in absolute divorce situations and can put that experience to work for you. If you have questions or concerns, contact us today at 704-370-2828.