Separation & Divorce
The attorneys at Hatcher Law Group represent clients in all stages of the divorce process, whether you are planning for divorce, just separated, have represented yourself throughout much of your proceedings, or are seeking a second legal opinion. We are well-known litigators with extensive experience in handling highly contested and complex financial and child custody issues. We also regularly assist our clients with cases that do not involve litigation, such as an uncontested divorce or amicable situations where both parties wish to achieve a settlement through negotiation, mediation, arbitration, or the Collaborative Law process.
What is Legal Separation?
The term “legal separation” is somewhat misleading. In North Carolina, there are no special forms or documents to file in order to be separated. In other words, once you and your spouse begin living separate and apart, you are separated. However, a separation agreement can set forth terms related to physical separation and each party’s rights and obligations regarding their family and marital relationship.
What is an Absolute Divorce?
North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state, which means neither spouse has to prove any wrong-doing to be granted an absolute divorce. To file for an absolute divorce, or what is commonly referred to as “divorce,” the state of North Carolina requires the following:
- The couple must be legally married.
- At least one party has been a resident of North Carolina for six consecutive months immediately prior to filing a claim for absolute divorce.
- The married couple must live separate and apart without cohabitation for at least one year immediately prior to filing a claim for absolute divorce. (Parties are not considered separated if they’re living in separate areas of the same household; or if one of the parties has communicated to the other that he or she no longer wants to be married.)
A divorce is simply the process that allows couples to legally end a valid marriage. In most cases, the process does not resolve separate, yet related, issues such as property distribution, alimony, child custody and/or child support. Notably, a party is permitted to restore his or her former or maiden name automatically as part of a request in an absolute divorce.
Failing to address alimony and property distribution matters prior to finalizing a divorce may seriously impact a party’s financial situation. If parties have not preserved their rights to alimony and property distribution before a divorce judgment is entered, all claims for spousal support are barred and property goes to the party with legal title.
A parent’s rights to child custody and child support are not affected by the entry of a divorce judgment. Even if a divorce has been granted, and regardless of marital status, a party can file a claim for child custody and/or child support.