Accomplished North Carolina Lawyers Manage Your Divorce Case
Firm in New Bern, Havelock and Morehead City delivers sound advice
Divorce is rarely easy, and the North Carolina laws governing divorce can add an extra burden unless you retain a capable and trustworthy attorney. For more than a decade, the Carolina Law Group has provided assertive and assured representation for divorcing spouses tailored to their specific circumstances. At our offices in New Bern, Havelock and Morehead city, we give clients the information and confidence they need to secure an order that fairly addresses such issues as custody, child support, property division and alimony. Whether you anticipate a mediated settlement or a contentious court fight, our firm has the knowledge, determination and resources to pursue the best possible result.
Skillful advocates outline grounds for absolute divorce and separation
North Carolina recognizes two types of marriage termination. One is absolute divorce, which dissolves the marriage completely. The other is divorce from bed and board, which serves as a legal separation that resolves various issues but does not free the spouses to remarry. If you have reached the point of no return and are ready for an absolute divorce, North Carolina law can be quite frustrating, because there are only two grounds available:
- Separation for one year — If you have lived apart from your spouse for one year, and at least one of you has been a North Carolina resident for at least six months, you can get an absolute divorce.
- Incurable insanity — If your spouse has been diagnosed with a permanent mental illness and you have lived apart for three years, you may be able to get an absolute divorce. However, you are required to present testimony on your spouse’s illness from two doctors, one of whom must be a qualified psychiatrist.
The separation ground does not require either party to allege fault, but it does require that you and your spouse maintain separate residences during the one-year period. If you spend even a single night under the same roof, you must start your separation period over at the beginning.
Many people in unhappy marriages are eager to get more immediate legal protection, so they opt to obtain a divorce from bed and board, also known as a mensa et thoro, as a first step. The grounds for this type of legal arrangement are:
- Abandonment — This occurs when one spouse leaves the marital home without obtaining approval of their husband or wife.
- Being maliciously turned out of the residence — This ground applies if a spouse is physically ejected from the home or is prevented from returning because their partner has changed the locks. It can also be used when one spouse shuts the other out emotionally.
- Cruel or barbarous treatment — A spouse whose life is in danger can obtain a divorce from bed and board.
- Indignities that make life intolerable — Under this ground, spouses can support their petition by citing various “indignities,” types of behavior that can make marital life intolerable.
- Habitual drunkenness or drug addiction — A medical diagnosis of alcoholism or drug abuse isn’t necessarily needed here, but a spouse making this allegation must show that their partner’s problem has led the marriage to break down.
- Adultery — A spouse’s sexual relationship outside the marriage can trigger a divorce from bed and board and might be reflected in alimony and other determinations if the marriage is eventually terminated.
With a divorce from bed and board, you can settle your divorce issues up front and then dissolve the marriage in an absolute divorce once the required waiting period passes.
Family law attorneys pursue favorable custody, support and property terms
Whether issues are resolved through negotiation, mediation or litigation, most divorces center on one or more of the following concerns:
- Alimony — A husband or wife who is substantially dependent on the other spouse for maintenance can receive an order of support. The court must look at 16 statutory factors when deciding whether payments are appropriate and how much they should be. If a supporting spouse innocent of marital misconduct can prove the dependent spouse committed adultery, the dependent spouse loses the technical right to alimony. No matter which side of this issue you are on, you need a determined and capable attorney making the best argument possible to protect your financial future.
- Child custody — The law does not favor mothers or fathers in child custody and visitation determinations. Rather, courts in North Carolina base their custody rulings on the best interests of the children. As your family law advocate, we pursue your goals for custody methodically, presenting evidence of your fitness, your concern for your children, your ability to provide a healthy environment and other key factors.
- Child support — North Carolina law requires that both parents support their children to the best of their ability. The court must consider many factors when deciding on a support order, including the income of both parents, the number of children, and the child custody arrangements. We fight to compel financial transparency so your support order is based on accurate figures.
- Division of property — Under the state’s equitable distribution law, marital assets and debts are divided in a manner that the court considers to be fair. The result might not be equal shares for each spouse. Controversies often arise over the origin of items and whether they should be designated as separate or marital property. Disputes also occur over the valuation of particular assets, such as retirement accounts, stock options, real estate and family businesses. For most couples, the family home is the greatest asset, so there is often conflict over ownership, occupancy and mortgage obligations. Throughout the equitable distribution process, we are tireless advocates for your property rights.
A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can carry considerable weight in your divorce proceedings, unless it is shown to be invalid in whole or in pertinent part. From the outset, we’ll assess the validity of any agreement and work to enforce or challenge it, depending on your situation and needs.
Contact a zealous North Carolina attorney for aggressive divorce representation
The Carolina Law Group delivers effective, personalized legal support for North Carolina spouses who are going through a divorce. Call us at 252-672-2059 or contact us online to schedule a consultation at one of our offices, located in New Bern, Havelock and Morehead City.