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Matt Interview Transcript 3

MA: That's a great question and it's one of those questions where lawyers that do what I do we kind of tend to get questions over time that seem to originate mostly from popular media from movies and things like that. I think that movies have given people an inaccurate expectation with respect to the notion of an annulment at least in North Carolina, I don't know how other states treat that. In North Carolina an annulment is not available in the sort of traditional circumstances that we see in movies which are: "my goodness we got married yesterday, it was a tremendous mistake today the day after the marriage we want an annulment" and can you do something about that? Under North Carolina law no. Under North Carolina law an annulment is only available under very narrow circumstances and the circumstances are things like a bigamist marriage where one person or the other person is already married to someone else when they married the second person. Sometimes that happens for nefarious reasons and somebody knows what's going on and they do it intentionally but frequently it is an accident. Somebody thought the paperwork went through and it didn't or so on and so forth. Another instance where marriage can be annulled under North Carolina law is in the case of fraud, typically with respect to ability to conceive children. Also if two individuals are too closely related familiarly a marriage can be annulled. Other than those sorts of very narrow circumstances a divorce is really going to be the only option. If all you have is a situation where you wake up the next day and you say “oh my goodness we shouldn’t have done this”, chances are an annulment is not going to be available. But nonetheless it is very wise and is worth the money spent to talk to a lawyer and make sure because you certainly wouldn't want to have it available to you and miss the opportunity if that's what you needed.

BH: Can age also be a factor for an annulment? I think I remember a situation where somebody in my neighborhood had gotten married and maybe didn't have the parents’ consent to do that and the parents were able to annul that marriage, is that an option in North Carolina?

MA: Off the top of my head I am not entirely sure. It's funny I think a good lawyer is smart enough to say I don't know to what they don't know, and I don't know off the top of my head the answer to that question. I need to go pull a little bit of law, and lawyers we don't know it all off the top of her head, we have got big libraries full of books and we know how to go find it.

BH: Just like radio people here Matt sometimes we have to go Google things to answer questions for our listeners and so forth. What are the rules to determine if a person is legally separated from a spouse?

MA: North Carolina law is in my opinion pretty bad on that point and this is what I don't like, all on that point I think it's a bad test. The test is if people stop cohabiting meaning they don't live under the same roof anymore and one of them has the then existing intent to not resume the marital relationship that importantly does not have to be a stated intent. Meaning that they don't have to tell the other spouse that they no longer intend to resume the marital relationship. That test I think has resulted in and can result in some difficult circumstances for people. Particularly if you have a case which happens more and more these days from one reason or another one spouse lives out of town for large periods of time for work or whatnot. You can conceive of a situation where one spouse lives or maintains a separate residence in another town for work purposes and maybe is there for long stretches of time and two people generally that's how they live their lives and they still think they're married and perhaps things turn bad one day and one spouse or another says “oh, by the Way three months ago when we initiated this living situation I had the intention at that time to be separated from you and not returned to the marital relationship. And there are cases, I've seen cases where that can be after a year. And then you end up fighting potentially over what the person’s then existing non-stated state of mind was and it can be a difficult situation. And frankly it can put the unsuspecting spouse in a very very difficult situation.

BH: okay Matt, and how long does the divorce process typically lasts?

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