It’s commonly known in North Carolina that in order to be granted a divorce, there is a mandatory one-year separation that must occur between spouses. But for some couples, that time is not feasible, and divorce needs to or should happen more quickly. While an expedited process is not common in North Carolina, there are ways that a couple can speed up their divorce.
With the help of a Monroe, NC divorce lawyer, you can understand how to streamline your North Carolina divorce can help you navigate the process and quicken your final outcome.
In North Carolina, couples can seek one of two types of divorce. The first type is absolute divorce, in which the outcome is a complete dissolution of marriage. The second type is a divorce from bed and board which is more commonly thought of as a legal separation, but it does not dissolve the marriage.
North Carolina is considered a no-fault state which means that either spouse seeking a divorce does not have to prove there is any wrongdoing by the other spouse. Grounds for no-fault divorces include the one-year separation requirement and incurable insanity. That means that couples must physically live separately from one another in order to be awarded a no-fault divorce.
However, there are other grounds for divorce that couples could use. These grounds may not require the one-year separation agreement. These include:
North Carolina requires that at least one spouse is a resident of North Carolina for a minimum of six months. This requirement ensures that at least one spouse is a permanent resident and is not trying to take advantage of state divorce laws. In addition to this, spouses must have separated for a minimum of one year before a divorce is granted. Separation is considered living in different households, not simply in different rooms within the home. There must also be an intent to separate, meaning the couple may not engage in marital activities with one another.
The separation date is when the clock begins to run, not the date of filing for divorce. So if a couple separates and chooses not to file for divorce for six months, they have already invested six months of separation into the timeline.
There are limited exceptions to the one-year law, however, such as cases of domestic violence, adultery, or other situations in which one spouse may be endangered by another.
The one-year separation requirement is designed to ensure couples are thoroughly invested in the divorce process. By living in separate residences and ceasing any marital relations, the couple is showing their intent on ending the marriage and moving forward with the divorce process.
During the separation, the couple will create an agreement that settles marital matters between them just as they would in a divorce. This process makes finalizing the divorce later much easier. The agreement will have terms of asset division, spousal support, child custody, child visitation, child support, and any other issues that the couple needs to resolve.
The couple must sign the agreement, and each party’s signature must be notarized. This process is ideally completed with the help of an attorney who can ensure the agreement is completed equitably and fairly.
The separation requirement is not a dissolution of marriage in and of itself. Couples must understand that while they are separated, they are still legally married and, therefore, must be aware of the decisions they make during this time and how those decisions could impact the ultimate finalization of the divorce.
An immediate divorce can occur when you file a petition with the help of your attorney after the mandatory one-year separation period or if you have lived separately from your spouse for 3 years due to incurable insanity. Once these requirements have been met, from the time you file for divorce to the final judgment could take as little as 45 days.
A 30-day waiver is part of the process to speed up a divorce between couples. Once a spouse has been served with their divorce petition, they have 30 days in which to respond to the petition. If both parties agree and sign the waiver within 30 days, then the divorce can move forward fairly quickly.
The purpose of the one-year separation period in North Carolina is to ensure the couple is invested in the divorce process and is intent on dissolving the marriage. During this time, the couple will cease all marital relations but will still be legally married. They will come to an agreement on terms of asset division, child agreements, and more.
If a couple is seeking an uncontested divorce, which is the simplest form of divorce in North Carolina, then the process from start to finish could take as little as 30 days. However, the timeline could take more than a year because of the mandatory separation period that must be met before the divorce can be finalized. If a couple seeks a contested divorce, then that timeline could be significantly increased.
If you are considering a divorce in North Carolina and have concerns about the one-year separation requirement, it is important to speak with an attorney who can help guide you on your options based on the circumstances of your situation. While not every divorce can be finalized without it, yours may qualify if you are in danger or there are certain at-fault reasons that you are seeking a divorce from your spouse. Contact the offices of Lehnhardt Price Family Law and let us help you understand your options.