You and your spouse have been separated for a year or more and you receive, via certified mail, a complaint for absolute divorce. You knew this day was coming, but getting served with a complaint is the first step in finalizing a divorce. Now that you’ve been served, what do you do in response? How long do you have to respond? What happens if you don’t file an answer in time?
North Carolina residents lose the right to divorce related claims such as equitable distribution and alimony/spousal support unless it is asserted prior to entry of the divorce judgment. In essence, once an absolute divorce judgment is obtained, you have effectively waived your rights to assert your interest in property acquired during your marriage. If you are a dependent spouse, in most cases your will have foregone your right to alimony/spousal support. Taking appropriate action upon being served with an absolute divorce complaint is of paramount importance.
In North Carolina, you have 30 days after being served to file an answer to to a complaint for absolute divorce.
Should I Respond to a Complaint for Absolute Divorce?
Generally the answer is yes. If you are 100% sure you don’t have any marital assets or debt that needs to be distributed, you don’t want to resume your maiden name, you’re not in need of spousal support, and all of the information alleged in the complaint is accurate, it probably wouldn’t be the end of the world if you don’t respond. In order to be sure however, you need to have a thorough understanding of:
- What is the difference between marital property, separate property and divisible property
- What factors a court considers in determining whether to award alimony/spousal support
- What impact the date of separation can have on your equitable distribution case
If you’re unsure about the classification of you or your spouses’ assets and debts don’t wait until the last minute. Contact us to discuss the right way to respond to an absolute divorce complaint to preserve your rights.
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- Equitable Distribution Guide – Dividing the Marital Estate
- Alimony Primer
- Thing to Expect When Going Through a Divorce
- Divorce FAQ