Frequently Asked Questions & Paperwork
Completing this information and bringing it with you at your first appointment will help us in advising you about your particular concerns. Addtionally, if you would like to learn more about financial obligation to your children, please download the appropriate child support worksheet.
Family Law Client Questionnaire
If your child(ren) reside primarily with one parent, use Worksheet A. Put otherwise, use Worksheet A if one parent has the children for less than 135 nights per year.
If your child(ren) spend at least 135 nights with each parent during the year, use Worksheet B.
If you have multiple children who spend different nights with each parent, use Worksheet C (this is less common).
My spouse and I want to get a divorce but we’re amicable and seem to agree about everything – can we hire the same attorney to save money?
No. It is considered unethical for an attorney to represent both spouses in a divorce, as your interests are seen as diametrically opposed, even if you agree on all issues. If you really would like to keep costs down and end your marriage amicably, you may want to consider collaborative law. Another way to keep costs down is to engage in prelitigation mediation with the help of our family law attorneys.
Yes. There are specific requirements for a Separation Agreement to be valid and enforceable and, if you do not follow these requirements, your agreement could later be invalidated. If one of you ever decides that they don’t like the agreement anymore, it can be attacked on numerous levels. You need an attorney to, at the very least, review the agreement you have drafted to ensure it passes muster under North Carolina law and will be upheld in the event either of you wants to challenge it in the future. Even if you have already divided all of your assets and verbally agreed to your arrangement, either spouse can file a claim for Equitable Distribution or Alimony before the divorce is final. You may not be safe just because you have already divided your assets.
I want a divorce but my spouse doesn’t – can I force him/her to get a divorce (alternatively, my spouse wants a divorce but I don’t)?
North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state. This means that you don’t need a reason to file for divorce and you don’t need your spouse’s consent to get divorced. The only requirement to file for divorce in North Carolina is that you have been separated for more than one year on the date of filing. That being said, if neither of you want to move out of the marital home, you cannot separate and can end up in a “War of the Roses” situation, trying to force the other out to begin the clock for when you can get divorced. You should consult with an attorney to determine how you should proceed in such a situation.
No. To be “legally separated” in North Carolina, you only need to be physically living apart with at least one spouse having the intent to remain apart. This does not mean living in separate bedrooms; you must be maintaining different residences to be considered separated. While you do not need a separation agreement to start the one-year clock for divorce, it is often advisable that you sign some sort of agreement prior to your separation or shortly thereafter.
I don’t want to go to court, but I also don’t know if collaborative law is right for my situation. Is there a middle ground?
Yes. Even if you aren’t ready to commit to the collaborative process, you might still be able to resolve your case without ever stepping foot in court. One option is to attend mediation and, with the guidance of a neutral third party, negotiate an agreement with your spouse outside of court. Another option is to hire an arbitrator to act as decision-maker if you and your spouse are unable to come to an agreement but would still like to avoid court. Finally, your respective attorneys can negotiate with each other on your behalves and attempt to reach resolution without the help of a mediator, arbitrator or judge. All of these options provide you with privacy and each has unique pros and cons. We suggest you have a full understanding of the different dispute resolution methods before deciding how to proceed.
My spouse became a completely different person after we got married and I feel like I was tricked. Can I get an annulment?
Probably not. In North Carolina, there are few and very specific situations in which you may be entitled to an annulment. Those situations include, but are not limited to: bigamous marriages, marriages involving a minor under the age of 16, incestual marriages, marriages involving a spouse who was not of “sound mind,” and marriages entered into under the false belief that the wife was pregnant.