Know Your Rights before Your Divorce Is Final

There are an abundance of websites and forms online that are designed to enable people to obtain a divorce without the assistance of an attorney. Even if you intend to handle your own divorce, you may still benefit from having a consultation with an attorney before you proceed with the divorce process.

Having an attorney to assist you with your divorce can take a lot of the stress and guesswork out of the process. Otherwise, it is necessary for you to familiarize yourself with local court rules, forms, and procedures. Most importantly, you should know the divorce laws in your state to ensure that your rights are protected. In North Carolina, the entry of a divorce judgment has serious legal consequences.

Under North Carolina law, a dependent spouse will lose the right to pursue a claim for spousal support (post-separation support or alimony) if the claim has not been properly filed with the court prior to the entry of the divorce judgment, or the parties have not entered into a valid agreement resolving the issues of post-separation support and/or alimony. North Carolina law also bars the right to seek an equitable distribution of any marital or divisible property pursuant to NCGS 50-20 if the claim has not been properly asserted prior to the entry of the divorce judgment.

A family law attorney can offer advice to ensure that any agreements reached between you and your spouse are fair and reasonable and help you avoid potential problems. Highly trained and skilled attorneys, such as our family law attorneys at Gum, Hillier, and McCroskey PA, have the expertise to consider such things as possible tax consequences associated with alimony payments that a non-lawyer might fail to consider. Further, meeting with a family law attorney can help to ensure that all assets and debts have been accounted for before the marriage is dissolved. For example, interest in a pension plan earned during the marriage may still be subject to division as part of the marital estate even if the pension plan is not yet in “pay status.” Failure to include such a pension plan as part of the division of the marital estate could deprive a divorced spouse of a portion of that future income stream.

At Gum, Hillier, and McCroskey PA, our family law attorneys understand the legal complexities surrounding separation and divorce. We are happy to offer consultations to discuss the legal aspects of your case and the options that may be available to you.

This article is for information purposes only and is not to be considered or substituted as legal advice. The information in this article is based on North Carolina state laws in effect at the time of posting.