5 Things To Do Before You Get a Divorce in North Carolina
There are few things more painful in our lives than a divorce. In fact, in the famous Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, divorce is the second most stressful life event that a person can experience, second only to the death of a spouse. This isn’t surprising, especially to those of us at Mulligan Epstein Attorneys, as we’ve worked closely with many people going through this difficult time. The end of any serious, long-term relationship can be traumatic for all parties, but when you add legal contracts, property ownership, and custody battles into the mix the process becomes even more fraught. This is precisely why so many people turn to a divorce lawyer for help and peace of mind.
Family law varies from state to state, and North Carolina is a “no-fault” divorce state. This means you’re eligible for a divorce as long as you’ve been separated from your spouse for one year and have been resident of North Carolina for at least six months. You don’t have the added stress of being forced to prove that one partner is to blame for the marriage’s breakdown. While this seems like a reasonable law (and it is, for the most part) a court will still take the behaviors of both partners into account when making decisions about property, debts, support, and custody.
If you’re thinking about getting a divorce, there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself and make the process as painless as possible.
1. Visit a marriage counselor.
Marriage is a huge undertaking and there will be ups and downs, good times and bad. Before you go through the stress, trouble, and expense of a divorce, make sure your marriage is really, truly over. Sometimes a professional can help us fix things we didn’t know were broken. At the very least, a counselor can help you understand what went wrong, so that you can avoid those mistakes in the future.
2. Talk to an attorney.
Every relationship is different, and so is every divorce. Even if your divorce is simple and straightforward, you can benefit from the guidance and advice of a divorce lawyer. At Mulligan Epstein, we offer consultations, which can help you decide how much assistance you will need and how to best proceed. Schedule one today, before you do anything else.
3. Avoid admitting to an affair.
If you had an extramarital affair, it’s better to keep that information to yourself until you’ve spoken with a lawyer. And if this is your situation, you’ll definitely need one. Adultery is actually illegal in the state of North Carolina, and admitting to an affair can put you at a severe disadvantage, especially when it comes to alimony payments.
4. Protect your valuables and documents.
Divorce can sometimes make people act in aggressive, cruel, and unpredictable ways. If you believe a divorce is imminent, make sure to secure your personal belongings before discussions begin. Credit cards, collectibles, heirlooms, and other irreplaceable or expensive items that might be damaged, destroyed, or sold by an angry or jilted partner are best kept safe.
Also start locating documents regarding tax returns, retirement accounts, and checking and saving accounts.
5. Protect your children.
While divorce can be traumatic for the couple going through it, it can also be traumatic for their children. If you’re going through a divorce, it’s important to protect your children. Break the news to them only when you’re positive about your plans, and don’t try to turn them against your spouse. Be honest, help them cope, and ask for outside support if you need it.
At Mulligan Epstein Attorneys, our lawyers specialize in family law and are equipped with the experience and expertise to handle your case and make sure you’re able to make the best choices for yourself and your family. For the support you need during this difficult time, contact us today.