What To Expect In The Divorce Process
As much as you would like it to proceed quickly, divorce is a process that happens simultaneously on multiple fronts. Financially, emotionally, physically – you and your spouse will go about an uncoupling process, which takes time to complete. With our team by your side, we can ensure that this process considers all of the facets of your financial and legal exposure and ensures that your best interests are represented at each decision point. If you are interested in learning more about Donna Ambler Davis, PC, or scheduling an initial consultation, please click here and contact our office.
Words Of Wisdom
Over the years we have stood by many clients, guiding them as they’ve gone through this process. As such, there are certain tried and true pieces of advice that we give to our clients. Of course, each situation is unique and these do not apply to everyone, but here are some general rules that can help make this process less painful:
- Be forthcoming about all facts and information related to your case, not just the information you believe is important.
- Gather the documentation and information requested by our team as quickly as possible.
- Take great notes.
- Do not make rash decisions.
- Do not sign anything without a legal review!
The answer to this question is truly dependent upon the facts and circumstances of each case. If both parties are in agreement that they wish to amicably resolve their marriage, then it may be appropriate to enter into a legally binding contract which sets forth the details and obligations associated with the dissolution of the marriage. Depending upon the complexity of the marital estate, this process could last a couple of weeks to a couple of months.
If one or both parties seek court intervention and initiate the litigation process, then the attorneys in our firm will meet with you to discuss your case and develop the best strategy for obtaining the results sought. After evaluating and analyzing the facts of your case, we can provide you with a general time frame as to how long we estimate the process to last. Despite the reality that cases going through the court process take more time because the same is dictated by the court’s availability and scheduling, we are honest and dedicated to you and provide our guidance every step of the way.
The facts and circumstances of your case must first be analyzed by one of our attorneys before this question can be answered. The cost of your divorce is directly dependent upon the length and complexity of your case. After having an initial consultation with us wherein we gather the pertinent facts of your case and analyze the same, we can then provide you with an estimate of what this process will cost you given the direction that your case takes, i.e., amicable resolution, some litigation or extensive litigation. Although the divorce process can become expensive, you can rest assured that you are receiving representation by a competent, experienced and dedicated attorney who is advocating to obtain the results you want from this process.
Depending on your particular situation, the following legal claims may be associated with your divorce proceeding:
- Custody – Pursuant to N.C.G.S. §50-13.1, any parent, relative, or any other person, agency, organization, or institution claiming the right to custody of a minor child (who has not yet attained the age of 18) may bring an action or proceeding for the custody of said child. In North Carolina, the best interest of the minor child is the paramount consideration in determining the right to custody.
- Child Support – Pursuant to N.C.G.S. §50-13.4, the mother and father of a minor child shall be primarily liable for the support of said child. The court shall determine the amount of child support payments by applying the presumptive Child Support Guidelines. Payments ordered for the support of a minor child shall be in such amount as to meet the reasonable needs of the child for health, education, and maintenance, having due regard to the estates, earnings, conditions, accustomed standard of living of the child and the parties, the child care and homemaker contributions of each party, and other facts of the particular case.
- Post-Separation Support – N.C.G.S. 50-16.1A(4) provides that post-separation support is temporary spousal support to be paid by a supporting spouse to a dependent spouse until the earlier of any of the following events:
- The date specified in the order for post-separation support
- The entry of an order awarding or denying alimony
- The dismissal of an alimony claim
- The entry of a judgment of absolute divorce if no claim of alimony is pending at the time of the entry of the judgment of absolute divorce
- Termination of post-separation support as provided in G.S. 50-16.9(b)
- Alimony – According to N.C.G.S. 50-16.1A(1), alimony means an Order for payment for the support and maintenance of a spouse or former spouse, periodically or in a lump sum, for a specified or for an indefinite term, ordered in an action for divorce, whether absolute or from bed and board, or in an action for alimony without a divorce. The court shall award alimony to the dependent spouse upon a finding that one spouse is a dependent spouse, that the other spouse is a supporting spouse, and that an award of alimony is equitable after considering all relevant factors.
- Equitable Distribution – Pursuant to N.C.G.S. §50-20 provides that upon application of a party, the court shall determine what is the marital property and the divisible property and shall provide for an equitable distribution of the marital and divisible property. This statute goes on to provide that there shall be an equal division of the marital and divisible property unless the court determines that an equal division is not equitable. In that situation, the court shall divide the marital and divisible property equitably.
- Attorneys’ Fees – A party may request that the court order another party to pay his or her attorneys’ fees associated with certain legal claims. According to N.C.G.S. §13.6, in an action or proceeding for the custody or support, or both, of a minor child, including a motion in the cause for the modification or revocation of an existing order for custody or support, or both, the court may in its discretion order payment of reasonable attorney’s fees to an interested party acting in good faith who has insufficient means to defray the expense of the suit. Attorney’s fees may also be requested pursuant to N.C.G.S. §50.16.4 at any time that the dependent spouse would be entitled to alimony pursuant to G.S. 50.16.3A, or post-separation sought pursuant to G.S. 50-16.2A, and the court may, upon application of such spouse, enter an order for reasonable counsel fees to be paid and secured by the supporting spouse in the same manner as alimony.
N.C.G.S. §50-6 provides that marriages may be dissolved and the parties thereto divorced from the bonds of matrimony on the application of either party, if and when the parties have lived separate and apart for one year, and if either the plaintiff or defendant in the suit for divorce has resided in the state of North Carolina for a period of six months before applying to the court for divorce.
“Legal custody” generally refers to the right and responsibility to make decisions for a child’s best interest and welfare. For example, where the child will attend school, which doctor the child will see and what type of religious training the child will receive. North Carolina law defines “physical custody” as the physical care and supervision of a child. Parents can share physical custody of a child in equal time periods or one parent can have primary physical custody with the other parent having secondary physical custody.
There are many alternative dispute methods that can be utilized which do not include litigation proceedings. First, our attorneys can use their negotiating skills to attempt resolution with the opposing counsel to amicably resolve the issues of your case. Second, and the most frequently utilized method of dispute resolution, is to attend mediation with the opposing party and his or her attorney. Mediation involves a neutral third party who facilitates and assists the parties to resolve the issues in their case. In most instances, the mediator will go between two separate rooms where each party is located with his or her attorney to discuss offers of settlement received from the other party. Third, if you and your spouse both want to avoid court intervention and litigation, you can utilize the collaborative law process. With this process, both parties contractually agree to amicably resolve their issues without the threat of litigation. The parties voluntarily agree to disclose financial documentation and other information needed to work towards a settlement and then with the assistance of their attorneys they move forward to a mutually agreed-upon resolution of all issues.
Count On Our Experience
Our firm is experienced in representing clients in all facets of litigation and alternative dispute resolution. We are prepared to seek the route most beneficial and appropriate for each client. Contact us to schedule your initial consultation at our convenient Chapel Hill office today by calling 919-933-0950 or emailing us here.