Absolute Divorce is the term used in North Carolina to end the marriage and, although on its face, this seems a rather simple procedure that many people choose to do themselves, it is full of pitfalls that can come back to haunt you in the future. Only people who are lawfully married may bring a divorce action. The parties must be living separate and apart for period of one year prior to filing for divorce. This means the parties must actually be living in different residences and must be separated with the intent to remain separate and apart. To file for divorce in North Carolina, one party has to have lived in North Carolina for the previous six months from the filing. A woman is entitled to resume her maiden or pre-marriage surname upon request to the court, however, it is only the woman’s right to do so and the man is not entitled to demand that she resume her maiden name.
During the one year period of separation, many things can happen to expedite the final divorce. If there are children, a parenting agreement may be executed to provide for the custody and child support of the children. If there is property to be divided between the parties, an action for Equitable Distribution may be brought. Alternatively, the parties may choose to execute a Separation and Property Settlement Agreement. The issues of equitable distribution, postseparation support, and alimony must be pled prior to the entering of the Absolute Divorce or those claims of action could be lost.
All rights arising out of the marriage shall cease when the divorce judgment is entered by the judge, except when those rights are covered by other statutes. Rhonda Moorefield is an experienced family law attorney, adept in analyzing family law situations. Further, she can help you create and file the correct documents you need to acquire your Absolute Divorce in North Carolina. Protect your interests and schedule a consultation to ensure you’ve considered the benefits and ramifications of Absolute Divorce.
An annulment is a legal process for voiding a marriage. The law of North Carolina is narrow and will consider annulment in lieu of divorce in only a handful of circumstances. Annulment requires court involvement and approval, but if a District Judge orders an annulment of a marriage, legally, it is as if the marriage never existed. By ordering an annulment of marriage, both parties’ status changes as if they were never married.
Legal Annulment means that a marriage is voided by the court. Confusingly, that is not the same thing as a void marriage. A significant difference exists. A marriage that is void is a marriage that was not valid from its inception. In the State of North Carolina, only a bigamous marriage is void. The law specifies that a person can only be married to one other person at a given time, and, therefore, any second, bigamous marriage is invalid. While a court order is not required for the law to recognize that the marriage is void, to avoid complications in the future, acquiring an order from the court voiding the marriage will be beneficial.
For a marriage to be voidable by annulment certain circumstances must exist and others must not. Contrary to popular belief, the length of the marriage has no impact on the ability to have it annulled nor does living together. In fact, a life-long marriage can qualify for annulment if the criteria outlined by the law is met. Criteria for annulment include:
- Consanguinity, nearer in blood than first cousins or between double first cousins
- Marriage in which one party is under the age of 16, unless there is a pregnancy or a living child
- Medically diagnosed impotency at the time of marriage
- Mental incapacity at the time of marriage
- Marriage under false pretense (like pregnancy)
Except in a bigamous marriage, annulment can only be granted if both parties to the marriage are alive.
The family law offices of Rhonda K. Moorefield can help you understand the precise nature of annulment and what impact a voided marriage may have both positive and negative. If you believe your marriage is eligible for annulment, consulting with an experienced family law attorney can help you understand the legal ramifications of annulment so that you can make the best choices for the future.