If you just received divorce papers but did not agree to get divorced, you may have questions about what to do. You might be wondering if your spouse can divorce you without your agreement. You may want to know your rights in this situation.
Can a Spouse File for Divorce Without the Other Spouse’s Consent?
In North Carolina, a spouse can file for divorce without the other spouse’s consent. Further, the court can grant a divorce without one spouse’s consent. Here’s how this works:
First, spouses must go through a separation period prior to filing for divorce. The separation must last for one year, during which spouses live separate and apart and do not reconcile. After the year passes, one or both spouses can file for divorce with the court.
Then, when one spouse files for divorce, he or she must have the divorce papers served on the other spouse. Typically, the papers include a court summons and a list of key issues in the divorce (property division, alimony, etc.). The other spouse has a brief opportunity to respond by filing additional papers with the court, including any counterclaims. These could include requests for alimony or to change the property division.
If the other spouse does not respond to the divorce papers at all, the court can move forward without his or her consent. Upon request by the spouse who filed for divorce, the court may grant the divorce based on the terms listed in the divorce papers. As a result, a spouse who did not respond would have no input into property division or any other contested matters.
You Just Received Divorce Papers – What’s Next?
Receiving divorce papers without warning can be stressful. It may be doubly stressful if you do not want to get divorced. If you just received divorce papers from your spouse unexpectedly, there are a few steps to take next.
First, you may have the impulse to contact your spouse and say that you did not agree to divorce. Although it may seem natural, contacting your spouse may not be the best choice. Divorces are emotional and can become heated. We advise our clients to rely on us to help them protect their interests during divorce.
Next, although you may not agree to the divorce, you have the opportunity to respond to the divorce papers. To protect your interests, you should seek legal counsel to advise you on how to respond. As noted above, if you do not respond, the court can still grant a divorce without your consent. Keep in mind that you only have a short time to submit the response after the papers are served.
You have several options for how to proceed with the divorce after responding to the divorce papers. For example, you could agree to mediate or arbitrate the divorce with your spouse. These alternative dispute resolution methods can wrap up major issues in a divorce without the need for court intervention. Also, you might be interested in collaborative divorce, another informal process that happens without court involvement. Speak to your lawyer about your options for moving forward.
Let New Direction Family Law Assist You
If you have unexpectedly received divorce papers, the team at New Direction Family Law is available today to answer your questions. With decades of combined legal experience, our attorneys are knowledgeable, effective, and compassionate professionals. We will help you understand your legal rights and work hard toward your best outcome. We proudly serve clients in Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. Contact New Direction Family Law at (919) 646-6561 to schedule a consultation, or visit us at our website.