Can I Get A Divorce In North Carolina If My Spouse Doesn’t Want One?
Navigating a divorce is challenging in itself, and it becomes even more complex when one partner is reluctant to end the marriage. If you find yourself in this heart-wrenching position, it’s important to understand that you’re not alone.
Each year, many individuals face the same circumstances, seeking the closure of a relationship that no longer serves them, while their partner clings to the marital bond. This article aims to shed light on the intricacies of this complex situation, helping you understand what to expect and how to move forward when you want a divorce, but your spouse doesn’t.
Is A Divorce Possible In North Carolina If Only One Party Wants It?
Yes, a divorce is possible in North Carolina even if only one party wants it. North Carolina is a “no-fault” divorce state, which means that a spouse doesn’t need to prove that the other spouse did something wrong to cause the divorce.
The primary requirement for obtaining a divorce in North Carolina is that the couple must be separated for at least one year and one day, and that at the time of separation, at least one of the parties has to have the intention to separate. “Separation” means living in separate residences; simply living in different parts of the same house won’t qualify. One of you must also have been a North Carolina resident for at least six months before initiating divorce proceedings.
The spouse who wants the divorce (the plaintiff) can file for divorce after this one year period of separation, even if the other spouse (the defendant) does not want to divorce. The plaintiff must serve the divorce complaint on the defendant, who has 30 days to respond. What happens if they don’t respond? In this case, they would be considered in default and the process can move forward.
What Happens If My Spouse Refuses To Respond To The Divorce Papers?
In North Carolina, if your spouse refuses to respond to the absolute divorce lawsuit, you can still proceed with the divorce.
The process is as follows:
- Serve the Papers: You must properly serve the divorce papers to your spouse, which usually means having them delivered by a sheriff’s deputy or a certified process server. In some cases, you may also have them delivered by certified mail.
- Wait for Response: After the papers have been served, your spouse has 30 days to respond. If your spouse has been served and does not respond within 30 days, they are considered in “default”.
- Motion for Default: If your spouse does not respond within the 30-day period, you can file a motion for default and a default judgment for divorce. This effectively moves the process along without your spouse’s participation.
- Set a Hearing Date: Once the motion for default has been filed, you can then request a hearing date from the court.
- Attend the Hearing: You’ll need to attend the hearing. If your spouse does not attend the hearing, the judge typically grants the divorce.
Remember, this is a simplified overview of the process. The specifics can vary depending on the circumstances and the court, and one mistake may throw the whole process off. Also, while the divorce itself may proceed by default, issues like property division, alimony, and child custody may require further court proceedings.
Should I Hire A Lawyer To Help With The Divorce Process?
The simple answer is YES. Whether or not to hire a lawyer for your divorce is a personal decision that depends on several factors, but for most people, it’s a great idea to have someone on your side who knows the law and the process. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Complexity of the Case: If your divorce involves complex issues such as substantial assets, debts, property, or a contested child custody case, you may benefit from the expertise of a Beaufort divorce lawyer. We can help to ensure that your interests are well-represented.
- Knowledge of the Law: Divorce law can be complicated, and each state (including North Carolina) has its own unique set of complexities. We can help you understand the law and guide you through the process.
- Emotional Aspects: Divorce can be emotionally taxing. We can provide a buffer between you and potentially contentious situations with your spouse.
- Avoid Mistakes: The legal system can be complex, and stress or confusion can lead to errors if you’re handling your case on your own. Mistakes in legal procedures or misunderstanding legal documents can have significant consequences, financial and otherwise.
- Negotiations: Our team may be able to negotiate a better settlement for you, particularly when it comes to issues like child support, alimony, or division of property.
Even if you’re on the fence about whether to hire a lawyer, it’s a great idea to at least schedule an initial consultation to understand your rights and options.
Contact Our Beaufort Divorce Team Today
If you’re navigating the difficult terrain of divorce in North Carolina, professional legal guidance can make all the difference. At Schulz Stephenson Law, we understand that every situation is unique, and we’re dedicated to providing tailored, compassionate support during this challenging time.
Don’t tackle this process alone – secure the best possible outcome for your future. Contact us today for a consultation and let us put our experience and expertise to work for you. Whether you’re dealing with complex property division, navigating child custody issues, or trying to work through a reluctant spouse situation, we’re here to guide you every step of the way.