Filing for divorce in North Carolina is a relatively straightforward process. While you can handle it yourself, a lot of people prefer using an attorney. Using an attorney gives you the peace of mind the matter was handled correctly. For someone unfamiliar with the court system, filing for and obtaining a divorce judgment can be confusing. In fact, it can easily become overwhelming. Still, if you’d rather do it yourself, below is some advice to help you avoid three common mistakes of a DIY divorce.
1. File Your Complaint on the Right Date:
In North Carolina, filing on the wrong day can make or break your case. You must be legally separated for a year before you file. You can file for divorce any day after a year of separation. But filing any day before that will defeat your claim. So, if you and your spouse separated on January 1st of this year, make sure to wait until January 2nd of next year before filing your complaint for divorce.
2. Preserve Your Claims:
In North Carolina, you lose your right to file claims for equitable distribution and spousal support once a divorce judgment is entered. If you and your spouse do not have a formal written agreement or order regarding these issues, you could be making a very big mistake by filing for divorce. There is little to nothing that can be done to address these issues once a divorce judgment is entered. You should speak with an attorney if you have not settled these issues yet.
To preserve your claims, make sure to file for equitable distribution and spousal support before the divorce judgment is entered. Then make sure your divorce judgment states that your claims are preserved before taking it to the judge for signature.
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3. Be Prepared for the Hearing:
If you hire an attorney, you probably won’t have to testify in court to get your divorce. It’s very rare that you will need to. But if you represent yourself, you’ll need to testify before your divorce is granted. When you testify, you’ll need to state very specific information on the record. Often, judges will not help you out. A good rule of thumb is to state the information included in your complaint, such as you and your spouse’s names, addresses, your separation date, etc.