A North Carolina uncontested divorce could be the way to go if you and your spouse are on the same page as far as divorce is concerned.
Most people think that divorces are dramatic and drawn-out events that must be resolved in courtrooms, but this is not always true.
Uncontested divorces are often collaborative divorces that allow spouses to end their marriage within a short time in a drama-free process. This article will highlight the requirements and process of filing an uncontested divorce in North Carolina and the pros of this type of divorce.
How To File an Uncontested Divorce in North Carolina
Once you and your soon-to-be-ex have lived separately for 12 consecutive months and fulfilled the residency requirement, you are ready to file for an uncontested divorce.
Generally, the process of filing for an uncontested divorce includes the following steps:
– Gathering Relevant Information
You will need to get documentation that will be part of your divorce case. Such information will also help determine child custody, spousal support, child support, division of assets and debts, and other main elements of divorce settlement negotiations.
Be thorough and take your time to collect the relevant information. It will make your divorce process even smoother.
In addition to personal information, be sure to get bank documents, pay stubs, child-related and family expenses, tax records, and information relating to real estate, retirement plans, estate, and insurance policies.
– Fill Out the Necessary Paperwork
Before you can begin your divorce, you will need to fill out and submit some forms to the court. If you are filing for an uncontested North Carolina divorce, you must fill out the forms outlined below:
- Complaint For Absolute Divorce
- Civil Summons
- Domestic Civil Action Cover Sheet
- Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Affidavit
Spouses who have children together may be asked to file additional paperwork. That is also likely for individuals in other specific circumstances. However, you will get more information about the forms you need to fill out from the Clerk of the County Court where you file your divorce.
Some of the additional forms (mandatory and optional) you may need to complete as the divorce process goes on include:
- Notice of Hearing
- Waiver and Response (optional)
- Judgment of Absolute Divorce
- Affidavit of Service of Process by Certified or Registered Mail
You will also need to pay filing fees on submitting these documents in court. If you feel that you can’t meet the cost of divorce, you can request the court to help you.
If you are filing for the divorce, you have to fill out and submit Form AOC-G-106, or the “Petition to proceed as an Indigent” through which you ask the court to allow you to file for free. If the court grants your request, it will subsequently waive the filing fees.
– Serve the Petition
A divorce in North Carolina is usually filed with the District or Superior Court of the county where you or your spouse resides.
After filing your paperwork with the court, what follows is serving the complaint to your spouse.
Since you are not allowed to hand over this paperwork to your spouse yourself, you can use methods such as service by Sheriff, acceptance of service, service by registered or certified mail, or publication.
The service of legal documents ensures that you and your spouse are on the same page as far as the divorce is concerned. Spouses keen to get the divorce finalized sooner can waive the requirement for service and the option of filing a response to the divorce complaint.
– Filing an Answer
The other spouse (defendant) is allowed 30 days to file a response for your case. You will get a notification once your spouse files an answer. Normally, the response won’t have any counterclaims or raise new issues in an uncontested divorce.
– Complete and Exchange Financial Affidavits
Before submitting the final documents to the court, you and your spouse must fill out and exchange financial disclosures. These documents provide important information as they indicate to the court that you and your spouse have done an equitable distribution of assets.
Financial disclosures include documents providing information about your incomes and expenses, bank accounts, real property, cars, homes, retirement plans, and others. In other words, they are a full accounting of your marital funds.
These documents should also show what is considered marital and separate property. That way, spouses can also distribute debts and other pending obligations before finalizing their divorce.
– Request a Hearing
After receiving an answer from your spouse, the judge will set a date for a hearing. The court can give you your divorce right after submitting your final documents if you and your spouse agree on the important issues in your case.
These final documents are not the same as those filed at the start of the process.
- Judgment for Absolute Divorce
- Separation Agreement and Property Settlement Contract
- Certificate for Absolute Divorce
- Parenting Plan
– Provide a Divorce Settlement Agreement
Before granting a divorce, the judge will request a settlement agreement drawn up by you and your spouse. You and your spouse will also need to show that you accept the terms of the settlement agreement.
In some cases, spouses will come up with a settlement agreement early on in the process. However, some will have to resolve their issues as the process unfolds, meaning that they will draft an agreement later on.
To successfully draft an agreement, spouses must be ready to compromise and approach it cooperatively. After determining that the agreement is valid and known to both spouses, a judge will finalize your divorce.
What Is an Uncontested Divorce?
An uncontested divorce is simply “no-fault” divorce. That means that the state divorce laws do not require you or your spouse to prove that their partner is liable for the dysfunction of their marriage.
To file for an uncontested divorce, a spouse can simply state that the marriage is not working and that there is no hope for reconciliation in their marriage. When spouses don’t point fingers in a divorce, there is a better chance for a faster and less-involving divorce process.
An uncontested divorce also means that spouses have to agree on divorce issues before finalizing the process. This provides for a quicker and cheaper means of ending your marriage — it is no wonder this type of divorce is also referred to as a simple divorce.
This type of divorce is best suited to spouses who have agreed on potentially contentious divorce issues, including distribution of marital property, child custody, and child support.
– Requirements for a North Carolina Uncontested Divorce
Spouses who wish to begin the process of an uncontested divorce in North Carolina must have separated and lived apart for at least 12 months. That means that you and your spouse must live in separate houses before filing for divorce.
Also, you or your spouse must satisfy the residency requirement – you must have resided in the state for at least six months before you can begin the divorce process.
– How Long Does It Take To Finalize a Divorce?
If you file for an uncontested divorce in North Carolina, it could take one or several months to finalize the divorce. Generally, an uncontested divorce will take far less time than a contested divorce.
After filing your divorce paperwork with the Clerk, it would take about two weeks for your spouse to be served. Of course, the exact duration would depend on the method of service.
Your spouse is allowed 30 days to respond to the petition, after which time the court provides another 30-day waiting period. In an uncontested divorce, the defendant can submit a Waiver and Answer form in a bid to skip the wait. They would have to fill out and file this form with the Clerk and serve you.
At the expiration of this period, the Clerk will set a date for the hearing. How long you will have to wait for the divorce hearing will depend on the judge’s availability and other factors.
– What Is the Cost of an Uncontested Divorce?
The typical filing fee associated with an uncontested divorce is about $225. Individuals who wish to adopt their maiden name again will have to pay an extra $10. Service of the divorce papers through the Sheriff’s office will cost you an additional $30 or $7 if you serve by certified mail.
You can have the filing fees waived by filing a Petition to Proceed as an Indigent form and submitting it in court. You may be required to provide proof that you can’t afford the filing fee.
– Do I Need an Attorney for My Uncontested Divorce in North Carolina?
No. You don’t have to retain a divorce lawyer or attorney when filing for divorce in NC. Uncontested divorces mean that both parties agree to most or all of the terms of their divorce, making the process even simpler.
Dealing with issues by yourselves and not involving an attorney saves time and money. It also eliminates anxiety or pressure during the divorce process. However, you can reach out for the services of a divorce attorney if you need help completing forms or if you and your spouse start to squabble.
– Must I Go To Court for an Uncontested Divorce in NC?
Yes. While an uncontested divorce seeks to reduce court procedures, you will have to show up at a final divorce hearing. The Clerk will give you a date for the hearing, which you will inform your partner by completing and sending them a Notice of Hearing. This form must be sent to the other party at least 10 days before the stipulated court date.
On the court date, the judge will confirm your presence, as well as your partner’s. If the other party is not present, the judge will carry on without them. The judge will then ask some questions about your marriage. If satisfied, they will finalize the divorce by signing the Judgment of Absolute Divorce. That will mark the end of the marriage.
– What Reasons Will I Give for My Uncontested Divorce in NC?
In North Carolina, spouses can give incurable insanity, abandonment, and marital misconduct as grounds for divorce. However, you don’t need to give such reasons if you file for an uncontested divorce.
North Carolina is both a fault-based and no-fault divorce state. An uncontested divorce is a no-fault divorce because a spouse does not need to give any reason for divorce. A divorce can be granted by simply stating that your marriage has not been working out.
You can still give a particular reason for wanting a divorce.
– What Happens if I Reconcile with My Partner?
You can request the court to dismiss your case if things finally start to work out between you two and your divorce is still pending.
This is done by filing a Voluntary Dismissal (AOC-CV-405) at any time before the final judgment. However, if you dismiss your divorce and later realize that it was a mistake, you have to start the divorce process over again.
It is not uncommon for spouses to turn around midway through the divorce process and bury the hatchet.
If you and your partner are aware of your marriage problems and are both willing to call it quits, you can hasten the process by filing an uncontested divorce. In this article, we have discussed the requirements and process of an uncontested divorce in North Carolina, so let’s wrap up by outlining the main ideas:
- In an uncontested divorce, you don’t have to give a specific reason for wanting to terminate your marriage.
- The process of an uncontested divorce is often expedited as spouses agree about most or all divorce-related issues.
- Uncontested divorces save time and money as you don’t have to hire a family lawyer or attorney.
- Before an uncontested divorce is finalized by the judge, spouses have to show their written divorce settlement agreement.
Being both a fault-based and a no-fault divorce state, North Carolina allows uncontested divorces. If you and your partner wish to end your marriage through an uncontested divorce, be sure to meet the residency and separation requirements of the state before filing for divorce.
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