Divorce is a common family issue in Statesville, North Carolina. While most couples expect their marriages to last forever, things may not always work out as hope. Despite best efforts by both spouses to iron out issues in their marriage, a long-term solution may be hard to find. In such cases, as tough as it may be, divorce is seen as the best solution.
There are a lot of legal issues that come with divorce, including child custody, property division, and alimony. For all these issues, you need legal assistance as you may not be conversant with family law. You need to understand what will happen to your assets, children, and how divorce will affect your financial security. For this, you will need a proficient and experienced Statesville divorce lawyer.
If you’re thinking of getting a divorce or are already in the process, working with a divorce lawyer is the best way to get answers to any of your questions and ensure that you go through the difficult time with minimal hassle. Reach out to the Waple & Houk Law Firm at (704) 480-3899 to speak to a lawyer who specializes in family law and find out how to make your divorce as stress-free as possible.
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What are the Grounds for Divorce in North Carolina?
Divorce terminates a marital relationship, and a spouse must have valid reasons to seek divorce under North Carolina law. To receive an “absolute divorce,” which is the legal term of a written court order granting divorce, you don’t always have to prove that the other spouse is at-fault. In North Carolina, the following are valid grounds for divorce:
- Living separate and apart for 1 year
- Incurable insanity, which causes spouses to live separate and apart for 3 consecutive years.
In North Carolina, a spouse may also seek a “divorce from bed and board,” which is the state’s variation on fault-based divorce. It is not an absolute divorce, but rather a legal separation. For this, the following reasons are valid:
- Abandonment or desertion by the other spouse
- Cruel treatment that endangers the other spouse’s life
- Indignities, or actions that make life burdensome for the other spouse
- Excessive drug abuse.
What is a No-Fault Divorce?
North Carolina is a no-fault state, meaning that spouses can be granted an absolute divorce by filing a no-fault divorce. This is a divorce process in which neither of the spouses is laying the blame on the other for ending the marriage. Generally, no-fault divorces involve spouses working through their differences in an amicable manner. This makes the divorce process faster as it eliminates the need for multiple court hearings.
What Is the Difference Between Legal and Physical Custody?
One of the main issues that arise following a divorce is child custody. During the divorce, a decision has to be made on which spouse takes custody of the children, or how the custody will be shared. The terms “legal” and “physical” custody are common during a divorce process, and it is important to understand what each means.
Legal custody refers to the right to make major decisions regarding a child, while physical custody is the right to have a child in one’s physical care, at all times or part of the time. Spouses can share both legal and physical custody or one spouse can hold both forms of custody.
How Is Child Support Determined?
Under North Carolina General Statutes § 50-13.4, the amount of child support payments is determined by presumptive guidelines, which are based on “income shares.” These guidelines provide that a child should receive part of the income similar to what they would have received if the parents were still together.
Generally, the amount of child support will be determined by the:
- Number of children needing support
- Income of both parents
- Custody arrangements
North Carolina provides various Worksheets for calculating child support, depending on the custody arrangements (sole custody, shared custody, or split custody). However, a spouse can request a hearing before a judge to review the amount of child support.
How Will Property Be Split in the Divorce?
In a divorce, property is divided in an equitable or fair manner. North Carolina isn’t a community property state and judges use the equitable distribution method to split property. Through this process, the court believes that each spouse receives a fair portion of the property.
What Is Equitable Division and How Does It Work?
Equitable division is the method used by North Carolina courts to split property in divorce. It is important to note that only marital and divisible property is divided, not separate property. Marital property is defined as that which is acquired or earned by a couple during their marriage up until the separation date.
Under equitable division, a court divides marital and divisible property justly or equitably.
What Happens to the House?
A house isn’t always a marital property, as one spouse may have acquired it prior to marriage or accepted it as a gift or inheritance before marriage. In such a case, the house will not be subject to division. However, if the house is deemed marital property, then it will be divided equitably.
In equitable division of the house, there are three common options for spouses, including:
- One spouse retaining the house and “buying out” the other
- Selling the house and sharing the proceeds of the sale fairly (50/50)
- Co-owning the house to allow the spouse who has been granted physical custody of the children to live with them in the house. However, both spouses will continue to pay the mortgage.
How Long Will Divorce Take?
Every divorce case is different, and the time taken will differ depending on other legal issues like child custody and support, alimony, and property division. Also, the length of the divorce period will be determined by the type of divorce filed, which can be contested, uncontested, no-fault, or collaborative.
Typically, you can expect a divorce to take 45-90 days depending on the legal issues that come with the divorce.
How Much Will a Divorce Lawyer Cost?
Attorney fees in a divorce will depend on the services you require. Some attorneys may charge an hourly fee but it may be difficult to predict the total legal fees as they may not know the time it will take to close your divorce case.
For a contested divorce in North Carolina, you can expect up to $13,000 in legal fees but the fees could be significantly lower if there are no contested issues.
Call Our Statesville Divorce Lawyer for Free Consultations Regarding your Divorce Case
Divorce is an emotionally and financially-draining process and a last resort for spouses who can’t get through their differences. At Waple & Houk, we understand what spouses go through and the anguish that comes with a divorce.
If you’re considering a divorce, working with a lawyer who understands North Carolina divorce law is a good way to ensure that you go through all the issues according to the law, and that the divorce is handled smoothly and quickly. Call us today at (704) 480-3899 for free legal consultation to find out what you can expect throughout the process.