There are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to getting divorced. There is the emotional toll, the uncertainty looking forward, the timing, the impact on children, how property will be split, and the costs of getting divorced. If you are weighing a divorce and becoming educated on how divorce works, it is also worth learning some advantages of filing for divorce in North Carolina.
North Carolina is an “Absolute Divorce” State
In North Carolina, divorces are treated as no-fault proceedings. This means that the court cannot consider the reasons for the end of a marriage when granting an order that dissolves a marriage. Instead, courts must grant a divorce if there is sufficient evidence that the couple has been separated for at least one year before the petition for divorce.
Why does this matter? Because it saves time, money, and heartache. There are still numerous states that allow courts to consider the reasons a couple is asking for a divorce. This opens the door to painful and explosive testimony that creates hard feelings, rehashes painful memories, and draws out legal proceedings. In contrast, obtaining an absolute divorce is a relatively straightforward process once a year has passed.
Further, the predictability of an absolute divorce and yearlong wait to get divorced encourages couples to enter into separation agreements. These are legally binding contracts that address property division, spousal support, child custody, and child support. These agreements provide stability and often lead to lasting resolutions and diminished conflict when marriages formally end.
Equitable Distribution Instead of Community Property
Some states divide property through the theory of community property. In these states, all property acquired between a couple’s date of marriage and their separation is treated as “community property” which must be divided in half between the spouses.
In contrast, North Carolina practices property division through an equitable distribution model. Here, courts determine the fair market value of all marital property, then have the discretion to divide the property in an “equitable” (and not necessarily equal) manner. Courts can look at numerous factors that revolve around fairness, such as the relative income and financial position of each spouse, the length of the marriage, and the various contributions each spouse made to the marriage.
If the court determines that an equal split is not appropriate, then it will make an unequal split of marital property in the interest of fairness. The benefit of the equitable distribution method is flexibility and fairness that community property states lack when dividing property.