Wilmington, NC Divorce Attorney
To get a divorce in Wilmington, North Carolina, the New Hanover County courts require that spouses be legally separated for more than one year and one of the spouses must have resided in North Carolina for at least six months. If either spouse resides in New Hanover County, then the divorce is properly filed in New Hanover County
Wilmington North Carolina Family Court system
The New Hanover County Court system has a Family Court established to hear family law matters including child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division. If a divorce is the only claim, it is not heard by Family Court but rather by a special divorce court that hears divorces on Fridays of each week. In New Hanover County, there are currently three judges that hear family court matters. These are: The Honorable J.H. Corpening, II, Chief District Court Judge, The Honorable Melinda H. Crouch, and The Honorable Jeffrey Evan Noecker. Once one of these judges is assigned to your case, that judge will hear the case until the judge retires or leaves service as a family court judge or venue is changed. The Family Court Administrator is Ms. Suann Bechtel. Cases are usually heard on the third floor at the Courthouse at 316 Princess Street, Wilmington, NC or at the Office of Juvenile Justice on Fourth Street.
Why people divorce
The most often cited reason for divorce is money. Other reasons include infidelity, boredom, poor communication, incompatibility, lack of commitment, sexual problems, abuse, and addiction (e.g., substance abuse and/or alcoholism). An individual who is the victim of domestic violence should seek help from a domestic violence shelter immediately. We encourage others to attempt marriage counseling before seeking a divorce. Talk to a mental health professional about the situation—can the problems be resolved through marriage counseling or is the conflict too great?
Taking steps toward divorce
Divorce can be emotional and stressful, and the choices you make during this time may affect the outcome of your settlement or contested court case. Read 10 steps you should take to help you survive divorce. You should see a NC divorce attorney licensed to practice law in Wilmington, North Carolina. We do not believe you should try to do it yourself (DIY). Even though many companies offer a cheap online divorce, a do it yourself divorce can have severe negative consequences for you and your family.
Estimate your post-divorce financial situation
Use a Financial Standing Affidavit (FSA) to determine if your income covers monthly basic necessities to live separately. Consider your income and expenses, and check your credit report. The court will require that you file an FSA or similar document to justify your claim for post separation support and/or alimony as part of the divorce. While you may be interested in estimating child support or alimony, exclude these from the examination, as you don't know exactly how much a New Hanover County court will award. If you're financially unable to live separately, consider where the extra income will come from—a friend or relative, second job, career change, or other avenue—until your claims for post separation support and alimony are resolved. The New Hanover County Family Court system hears cases rather quickly and a PSS claim is often heard within 45-60 days of filing. And if you're in an abusive relationship, it's important to leave now, regardless of financial considerations.
Consider the effect of divorce on your children
Divorce can be especially difficult for your children. Answer their questions honestly, while avoiding temptation to harp on your spouse's flaws. Divorce affects them as well, and they will appreciate your openness. However, don't involve children in adult issues and don't discuss any pending or planned litigation. Children should not be aware of the disputes between parents. We strongly recommend you consider attending a parenting class for divorced parents. Dr. George Gates and Denise Scearce offer a Cooperative Parenting & Divorce class in Wilmington, NC.
Be ready to negotiate
Though it can be difficult to concede anything to your spouse, especially if abuse or infidelity is a factor, compromise can save you anxiety, time, and money. An attorney can point out your options, helping you carefully negotiate division of assets, child custody and visitation.
Divorce by Power of Attorney
While an attorney in fact can handle most litigation under a valid power of attorney, it is our position that person cannot handle a divorce for you. Our Court of Appeals has held that "an action for divorce based upon one year's separation cannot be maintained by a general guardian...." See Freeman v. Freeman, 34 N.C.App. 301, 237 S.E.2d. 857 (1977).
Carefully choose a Wilmington divorce attorney
Choose a Wilmington law firm that will represent your interests, rather than immediately signing on with a law firm that was shared by a neighbor or friend. Consider this list of nine things when selecting a divorce attorney that will protect your children and your assets.
If you wish to handle your own divorce, we have provided pro se divorce forms for you.
N.C. Gen. Stat. §50-3 sets forth NC Law on the proper county for filing a divorce action
N.C. Gen. Stat. §50-5.1 sets forth NC Law on obtaining a divorce on the grounds of one spouse having incurable insanity
N.C. Gen. Stat. §50-6 sets forth NC Law on obtaining a divorce on the grounds of one year separation for no fault divorce
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