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North Carolina is a 'no-fault" divorce state. So the only ground for divorce in the state of North Carolina is one year of separation before either party can file for divorce. There is a pending bill ((NC Senate Bill 459) that would reduce the required time period to six months, if it passes and becomes law. Check back for further updates.
Alimony and equitable distribution claims must be filed prior to the entry of a divorce judgment or you lose your right to pursue them. If you have claims for alimony and equitable distribution, you should meet with a family law attorney and file them prior to the entry of a divorce judgment.
If you have met the one-year separation criteria and have filed for divorce, it typically takes an additional 60-90 days for the divorce judgment to be entered in Guilford County.
Equitable distribution is the division of all marital assets and debts between the two parties in the marriage. Determining what assets and debt are marital and what are not is important before moving forward. If you have questions about the equitable distribution process, schedule a consultation with a family law attorney.
Biological parents have an equal right to custody of their children. In the event the parties are not married, the father may have to take a couple of additional steps to exercise his custodial rights. If neither parent is a fit and proper parent, others may be entitled to custody.
Grandparents have the ability to petition the court for visitation in some circumstances. In the event that neither parent is a fit and proper parent, grandparents have a right to petition the court for custody.
Parents will have to work together throughout their lives on behalf of their children. It's in the parents' best interest to find a way to do that without asking a judge to do that for them. Mediation is an excellent way to start that process. In the event the parents don't reach agreement and find a way to co-parent their children, a judge will decide when you are allowed to spend time with your children. That final Judge's decision might not be as agreeable as a decision reached in mediation.
Both parents have a responsibility to provide support for their children. There are child support guidelines that establish the amounts each parent pays based on their custodial schedule and their incomes. If special circumstances exist the court may deviate from those guidelines. Ask an attorney about whether your specific facts might be a reason for deviation.
There's no specific age where a child can have input into the determination as to where they should live or how much time they should spend with each parent. A rule of thumb is children over 12 years old can have some input and the older the child gets the more input a child will have. Ultimately, the judge has total discretion over where a child resides even after considering the child's input. It is also very difficult to determine how children may be impacted by being involved in an adult issue involving their parents.