Divorce in Western North Carolina
North Carolina Divorce Attorneys Serving Asheville, & Hendersonville
In North Carolina, any married couple or separated party can petition a
court for an absolute divorce, which is the legal means by which the State
dissolves a marriage. While an absolute divorce ends the marriage, it
doesn’t specifically address all of the issues typical to a divorce.
This is because the entry of a judgment of absolute divorce is actually
an action independent from all of the other material issues people think
about when using the term “divorce.”
custody of minor children,
equitable distribution are typically filed independently of an action for absolute divorce. In
practice, these related actions are typically filed before an action for
absolute divorce, because North Carolina requires the parties to be separated
for at least one year before applying for an absolute divorce.
Criteria for Obtaining an Absolute Divorce
To obtain an absolute divorce, one or both parties must meet the following
The parties must be legally married. Because there is no common-law marriage in North Carolina, the parties
must be married in a ceremony recognized by a government. Marriages that
are valid in other U.S. states and territories are acceptable, and often
the court will recognize a marriage performed in a foreign country as well.
At least one of the parties must have been a resident of North Carolina
for at least six (6) months prior to applying for the divorce. This is a jurisdictional requirement that cannot be waived, even with
the agreement of the parties –
North Carolina Statute § 050-8. Jurisdiction is often confused with venue. Put simply, jurisdiction is
the theory by which the State of North Carolina has the authority to hear
your case, while venue deals with where in North Carolina your case should
be filed and heard. For example, if you live in Asheville, the appropriate
venue for your case is Buncombe County District Court. It does not matter
if the opposing party resides in the same city or county as the other
party. For example, if you live in Asheville and your spouse has moved
to Hendersonville, you can file the action for divorce in either Buncombe
County or Henderson County.
North Carolina Statute § 50-3.
If the other party is not a resident of the state, the Court must ensure
it has jurisdiction over the out-of-state party. There are various ways to accomplish this under a theory called “long
arm jurisdiction,” which is an issue that can be addressed by one
of our experienced attorneys if applicable to your case..
Again, the parties must have been separated for at least one year prior
to the entry of a judgment of absolute divorce. “Separated” means the parties physically live apart, in separate
residences (living in separate parts of the same house is generally not
sufficient). While many parties separate and never have any significant
contact after separation, there are many cases where determining the final
date of separation can be more difficult. Brief periods of reconciliation,
or even less well-defined periods of intimate contact between the parties,
can make determining an exact date of separation difficult. If there is
any question as to the parties’ exact date of separation, you should
speak to one of our experienced attorneys for guidance on this issue.
While the entry of an absolute divorce dissolves the marriage, it does
not address any other material issues between the parties, such as the
division of property, custody of the children, support for minor children
or the award of attorney’s fees or alimony. All of these matters
can be handled during the divorce process, but they are not necessarily
handled by the entry of an absolute divorce. In fact, if someone obtains
an absolute divorce before addressing these other matters, the absolute
divorce can prevent the parties from later seeking things such as alimony,
equitable distribution or attorney’s fees.
Comprehensive Solutions for Your Absolute Divorce
If you’re seeking a judgment of absolute divorce, make sure you speak
to one of Van Winkle’s experienced
family law attorneys. While an absolute divorce can seem simple, the court system is fraught
with nuanced case law, as well as complicated statutes, rules and even
specific local customs and procedures specific to Asheville, Hendersonville,
Waynesville and other areas of Western North Carolina.
Our divorce lawyers can help you secure an absolute divorce and, more importantly,
assist you in pursing alimony, equitable distribution, attorney’s
fees, child custody, child support or any other applicable relief based
on the facts and circumstances of your case. Don’t make the mistake
of accidently waiving your right to something to which you might be entitled.
We have a wealth of experience in a wide variety of family law cases, as
well as experience as former prosecutors, legal aid attorneys and long-time
civil litigators. With the support of the largest and oldest law firm
in Western North Carolina, Van Winkle is ready to help you get the best
possible results in your case.
today to set up a consultation with one of our trusted attorneys.