The Hidden Traps of a Simple Divorce
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Friday, May 18, 2018
By Doug Berry
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Getting a divorce is simple, right?  All you do is file the divorce papers, have them delivered to your soon-to-be ex-spouse, wait 30 days and you get the divorce - no questions asked! And with forms readily available, you can file them yourself and eliminate the cost of hiring an attorney.  This is true if you are not concerned about:

1.       Marital support (alimony);

2.       Property division (equitable distribution);

3        Continuation of employer-provided health insurance at a reasonable costs;  

4.       The possible termination of your rights to one-half of your spouse’s Social Security benefits

5.       The equity in your marital home place, and any other real estate, losing its protection from either spouse’s creditor claims;

6.        The automatic revocation of a spouse’s rights as a death beneficiary under wills and certain trusts;

7.        The often forgotten continuation of certain death beneficiary designations of life insurance and bank accounts and other financial holdings.


          North Carolina law provides for an “absolute divorce” based on one year of separation provided that at least one of the two parties has been a resident for the six months before the date that the divorce complaint is filed with the Court.  This is often referred to as a “no-fault” or an “uncontested” divorce.  North Carolina has its own jurisdictional requirements that must be met in order to obtain a valid divorce.  It’s extremely important that all of the jurisdictional requirements are met because a divorce without subject matter jurisdiction is void.   The following are the general steps in getting a divorce:  A legal complaint and civil summons are prepared which, in turn, are filed with the Clerk of Superior Court.  Then, official service of process must be effectuated by delivering copies of the complaint and civil summons into your spouse’s hands.  This can be done by the local sheriff, by certified USPS mail, by other delivery services, or by personal pick-up (with a notarized acknowledgement of receipt).  The other spouse has 30 days from the date that he or she received the papers to file a response should he or she choose to do so.  So, the final divorce judgment cannot be entered before this 30-day waiting period elapses.  Also, so that you will not have to appear in court at the final divorce hearing, the divorce can be obtained by filing a Motion for Summary Judgment.  From your initial conference to the entry of the formal Judgment of Absolute Divorce is usually between 45 and 60 days.

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