A fear of courtrooms is an unfortunate hurdle that prevents people from seeking legal advice when they need help. Divorce is no exception to this, as many of us have witnessed hours of confrontation through the OJ Simpson trial, Judge Judy, or Court TV. People believe that when they pursue a divorce, they are going to have to testify—and get grilled by an opposing attorney in front of a courtroom full of people. An aversion to this public confrontation leads to prolonging marriages that are no longer healthy.
How Absolute Divorce Works
North Carolina is an absolute divorce state—which is an incredibly straightforward way to end a marriage. To obtain a divorce in North Carolina, one or both spouses must show that they have been separated for a full year and that one of them had the intent to remain permanently separate and apart. If those requirements are met, a court is required to grant a divorce. Significantly, this means that couples can be granted a divorce without any regard to “fault” or why the marriage is ending. Thus, there is no need for an explosive trial regarding the issue of divorce.
Trials are Relatively Rare
Of course, legally ending a marriage is not that simple and does not end there. While the marriage is legally dissolved, there are still issues of property division, alimony, child custody, and child support that must be resolved. Each of these issues has the potential to be hotly contested—which does leave the possibility of a contested trial. But based on our experience, this is a relatively low possibility.
While trials are possible with any of these issues, it’s more likely that parties are able to “settle” the matters before it gets that far. Even once one party files a lawsuit, there is ample time and opportunity for couples to work out agreements on these critical issues of child custody and support , property, and spousal support.
One of the avenues to resolving the issues of property division, alimony, child custody, and child support is by executing a separation agreement. This legally binding agreement can address all of those issues for the time period between the parties’ date of separation and the legal divorce, and the terms often extend beyond the parties’ legal divorce. . It can address who will stay in the marital home, how custody and visitation will work, distribution of assets and debt, and post-separation support and child support.
Agreed Orders Via Arbitration or Mediation
To avoid the stress, time, and expense of a trial, courts will order parties to attempt to resolve their issues through alternative dispute resolutions (ADR). Arbitration involves a third party, who hears evidence in a less formal setting and manner than a judge. The parties agree to abide by whatever that arbitrator decides.
Mediation also involves a third party. But instead of making a decision, a mediator helps to guide the parties toward a formal agreement that both sides agree to and are satisfied with. It is important to approach mediation with an open mind, as well as the mindset that you will not walk away with everything you want. Your attorney will advise you of the risks that come with taking a case to trial and why settling in mediation for a reasonable agreement may be in your best interest rather than going to trial.
Contact New Direction Family Law
Do not let a fear of trial prevent you from speaking to an attorney. The attorneys at New Direction Family Law have extensive experience in guiding clients to the end of their marriage. We are compassionate, experienced, and effective professionals who will work for your best outcome. If you need help, contact us today. Call New Direction Family Law at (919) 719-3470 to schedule an appointment or visit us online through our website.