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Do You Have to Be Separated for a Year Before You File for Divorce?

When it comes to filing for divorce in North Carolina, you have to meet certain requirements. For example, at least one of you must have lived in the state for at least six months. You can’t move to Charlotte in June and file for divorce in September. Another requirement is that you and your spouse be separated for at least one full year before you file for divorce. If anybody challenges your separation, your Charlotte divorce lawyer will have to overcome that challenge. Otherwise, you may have to wait another full year before you file again.

Here, we’ll discuss the mandatory separation requirement. We will also describe what constitutes separated for divorce purposes. If you are determined to  file for divorce but have not done so yet, contact our office. You can sit down with one of our seasoned divorce attorneys in Charlotte. They can review your paperwork and listen to your story.

One of the first questions they’ll ask if  you and your spouse have indeed been separated for a year. If it has only been a few months, you’ll have to wait. As long as your separation date is 365 days before the date you file for divorce, you should be fine. Either way, don’t make any final decisions until you meet with your Charlotte divorce lawyer. They can guide you through the process and help finalize your divorce. We can also answer any questions you may have.

The Law Does Require You to Be Separated for One Full Year

Most states require you to be separated for a certain period of time before you file for divorce. North Carolina is no different. If you want to file for divorce in Charlotte, North Carolina, you must have been separated for at least one year. You cannot even file your complaint until the year is up. If you file too soon, not only will your complaint be dismissed, but you’ll have to pay your filing fees again. Nobody wants to do this.

Thankfully, your Charlotte divorce lawyer won’t let that happen. If need be, they will gather the evidence to document your separation. It is rare that this is challenged. Unless your spouse is against the idea of divorce, there shouldn’t be any problem. It is highly unlikely that a neighbor or friend will go before the court and say that you weren’t really separated.

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Your Charlotte Divorce Lawyer Cannot File Your Divorce Complaint Until That Year is Up

Once the year is up, you can file for divorce. You do want to make sure that your divorce attorney in Charlotte files your complaint first. It may not seem like a big deal to you, but it is better to be the petitioner than the respondent. This allows you and your attorney to set the tone for the divorce proceedings.

When your complaint is filed, you’ll need to serve a copy on your spouse. If they already have a Charlotte divorce lawyer, you will serve their attorney. Once they have received a copy of the complaint, they will have thirty days to respond. If they don’t respond, your divorce attorney in Charlotte can ask the court for a default judgment. This just means that you don’t have to go through the entire divorce process.

If your spouse chooses not to respond, that is their choice. However, it is to

your advantage to get a default judgment for divorce. If this happens, whatever marital settlement agreement your attorney drew up will be part of the final order for divorce.

Your Divorce Attorney in Charlotte Can Clarify What Counts as Separated

You may be wondering what being separated really means if you want to file for divorce. Do you and your spouse have to live in two different houses? Are you allowed to have any contact at all? When it comes to making this determination, the courts are rather lenient. Some of the factors they’ll consider include the following:

  • Do the two of you have sexual relations? If so, are they isolated instances or do you have relations on a regular basis?
  • Do you share meals together?
  • Do the two of you enjoy a shared social life?
  • How often and in what ways do the two of you communicate?
  • Do you at least have separate bedrooms?
  • Have either of you engaged in a new relationship outside the marriage?

The courts will look at the totality of the circumstances. This is just a legal term for saying the court will look at the big picture. They aren’t looking to shoot down divorce petitioners. They simply want to ensure that people really want to file for divorce before they get into the process.

If the Court Find That You Weren’t Separated, the One Year Period Will Restart

While it is rare, the judge may find that you and your spouse have not been separated for the mandatory period. As mentioned briefly earlier, who would challenge such a thing? You’d be surprised at how this can interrupt your divorce proceedings. If your spouse doesn’t want to get a divorce, they could easily challenge the separation.

They may claim that the two of you have been living together as a couple the entire time. If that’s the case, your divorce complaint will be dismissed, and you’ll have to file for divorce again when you hit the one-year mark.

It’s in Your Best Interest to Meet with a Skilled Charlotte Divorce Lawyer Before You Make Any Final Decisions

Getting divorced can be one of the most traumatic things you ever do. Things happen throughout the process of your divorce proceedings that will try your patience. All you want to do is get divorced and move on with your life. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel that way at the time. This is why we suggest you hire a family law attorney in Charlotte to handle this for you. One small mistake can mean the difference between your divorce complaint being accepted or dismissed. That’s the last thing you want to happen. Not only will it set the whole ordeal back by months or longer, but you’ll have to pay the fees to file for divorce all over again.

Rather than risk this happening, contact our office and schedule a consultation with one of our skilled Charlotte divorce lawyers.