Why Does it Take So Long to Get Divorced?

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

Sometimes, people assume that when they decide to get divorced, they can get it done pretty quickly. Unfortunately, there is nothing quick about divorce in North Carolina. In fact, the law and busy court dockets make it impossible to impulsively get divorced. Our point is, that from the time you or your spouse decides “I want a divorce”, you will have to wait quite some time until the time that your divorce decree is signed. There are numerous reasons for this.

  • One year and a day separation. You must be separated for a year and a day before you can file a Complaint seeking a divorce in North Carolina. This means you must live separate and apart from your spouse for a full year and one day before filing a Complaint.
  • Service of process. The law requires that you serve your divorce petition on your spouse. After a year’s separation, it is not unheard of for your spouse’s location to be unknown. Further, if your spouse does not want a divorce or intends to make a divorce difficult, he or she may actively avoid service attempts. Service issues can add a significant amount of time to a divorce, especially if you have to then resort to an alternative method of service.
  • Once served, your spouse has thirty days to respond. If your spouse admits to your complaint’s allegations or fails to respond, you are free to schedule a setting for a testimonial divorce before the court. However, if your spouse files an answer or counter pleadings, then you must set a hearing for the court to hear evidence regarding your date of separation.
  • Court dockets are busy. In general, there are too many family law cases and too few courts to hear them. In addition, your attorney must coordinate with the other parties’ schedules to set any sort of contested hearing. And even if your case is set on a specific date, the court may reset the case because there not enough time for the court to reach your case on its docket.
  • Property division, alimony, and child support also take time to settle. While these matters do not have to be settled at the same time as the divorce, property division and alimony claims need to be filed prior to the divorce in order to be preserved. The attorneys can spend a great deal of time attempting to work out these issues. For example, an equitable division of property claim may include discovery, conferences, and mediation before it actually goes before a judge. And again, courts are incredibly busy and getting into court to settle these important claims will take additional time.

Contact New Direction Family Law

If you are considering a divorce, you should consult with an attorney. At New Direction Family Law, we recognize that getting divorced is a long and difficult process. We will help guide you through your separation and divorce and treat you with the respect and compassion that you deserve. We pride ourselves in fostering healthy attorney client communication. Call New Direction Family Law at (919) 719-3470 to schedule an appointment, or contact us online at our website.