The divorce process. Your case, as with most divorce cases, will be resolved with a document. That document can be a Separation Agreement or a Court Order. A Separation Agreement is a contract between two married persons in which some or all of the divorce issues are resolved. The issues that typically get resolved in a Separation Agreement are Child Custody, Child Support, Alimony and Equitable Distribution (also known as Property Distribution). Those issues can also be resolved in court through litigation. Either way, you will have a document at the end of the process that clarifies your rights and responsibilities.
I become involved in the process with most clients after they have separated from the other spouse. Sometimes a client will come to me prior to physically separating from his or her spouse, however. Both situations are common.
If the potential client has already physically separated, the consultation involves determining whether the marital issues can be resolved in an amicable way without the need for long, expensive court battles. At that point, the client chooses the best path for him or her given all of the unique factors of each individual case. If the client makes the decision to try to resolve the situation in an amicable, settlement-oriented way, we begin the process of drafting an Agreement that can resolve the marital issues. Some cases simply cannot be resolved without court, and if that’s the case, the client chooses when to file the necessary paperwork to begin the litigation process. Litigation cases can also be settled without actually going to trial, but typically once a case goes down the litigation path, it is a much longer and more expensive process than the non-litigation approach.
If the potential client has not separated from his or her spouse at the time of the consultation, the process is essentially the same as for those who have separated, except that there will necessarily have to be a negotiation with the other spouse about which person is moving out and when.
In North Carolina, the Absolute Divorce is typically handled after the other marital issues are resolved. It doesn’t always happen that way, but usually the Absolute Divorce comes after the other issues. The Absolute Divorce can be filed after the spouses have been physically separated for one continuous year, and it is a separate proceeding from the issues of Child Custody, Child Support, Alimony and Equitable Distribution.
This summary is intended only as a general overview of the divorce process. There is much more to it than can be explained here. It is critical that you consult with an experienced divorce attorney if you are faced with these issues, as not doing so can result in the loss of critical rights and can put you at a tremendous disadvantage in a system that can be confusing and extremely stressful