Do I need to hire an attorney for a North Carolina no-fault divorce?

No, you don’t have to hire one. However, it may be in your best interests to hire an experienced North Carolina divorce lawyer, even if you are planning a no-fault divorce.

All states now have some form of “no-fault” divorce in place. In the last few decades, U.S. society has realized a robust marriage requires both partners’ active commitment. When one spouse decides that the marriage is no longer capable of working, there is nothing to be gained by forcing the couple to remain together. State laws have adapted to this new view of marriage by making it easier to dissolve marriages without pinning the blame on one spouse. No-fault divorces have become the most common way of ending a marriage in the United States.

We understand in these tough economic times that families want to stretch their budgets as far as possible. Because the forms to petition for a no-fault divorce seem relatively simple, hiring a lawyer may seem like a frivolous expense. “All I need to do,” some people think, “is show that I have been living separately and apart from my spouse for at least twelve months.”

If Only it Were that Simple

In fact, a lot of details need to be ironed out in any divorce:

  • Who gets the kids? Does that parent get to make all the decisions about raising them? Even what church they should attend?
  • How much money should each parent be expected to supply for child support?
  • Who gets possession of the family house?
  • What about other property you own jointly—how should it be divided? Only one of you can keep that signed copy of Springsteen’s Born to Run, and you both want it. Or do you have to sell it and split the proceeds?
  • One of you works and the other does not. Should the working spouse pay to support the one who hasn’t been working outside the home? Does it matter if the spouse who doesn’t work gave up a promising career so that the working spouse could go to medical school?
  • What about family debts? One spouse just bought an expensive sports car. Is it fair that he may keep the car but the car payments are split equally?
  • Who gets to keep the family pets?

In fact, the details can be overwhelming. Yes, you can go to court on your own without any plan for dividing assets, child custody, spousal support, or child support, but that just means the judge will get to make those decisions. 

Can You Really Cooperate with Your Spouse?

Sometimes clients come into our Wilmington family law firm and say they intended to sit down with their spouse and make all those decisions in advance, as friends. It sounds good, but it almost never works. If you really are able to negotiate all those details fairly—without anger or drama—then you probably have a fundamentally solid relationship. Are you really ready to get divorced?

More often, going over the lists of property to divide and issues to settle will make you both upset about the things you “gave up” to the other spouse. Hostility rises. The spouse who is more eager to settle the divorce will be pressured to make greater compromises—to sign away more property to the other party, or to give up alimony demands—in order to gain cooperation and file the divorce sooner. Each side may suspect the other of concealing some assets or property that should be divided.

It’s this simple: a couple who decide to cooperate “as friends” in deciding how to end their marriage may never be able to be friends afterward.

A Lawyer Can Help

Lawyers aren’t just people in suits who show up at a courthouse; we’re also professional negotiators. Without a Wilmington divorce attorney by your side, there is too much risk that your rights and interests will be shoved aside in the divorce process. No matter how well you get along with your spouse, feelings will get hurt and your future relations will suffer, unless a third party can act as a buffer between you.

At Speaks Law Firm, we can be as involved in the process as you want—or as you need. If you just want a North Carolina family law attorney to look over your no-fault petition paperwork, we can do that. If you need help reaching a fair settlement with your spouse—or with your spouse’s lawyer—then that’s what we’ll do. Call us today at 910-341-7570 or toll-free at 877-593-4233.

Your circumstances are unique, so your divorce will need individualized attention. We get that. At Speaks Law, every client is our most important client. Call today and let us show you how we can smooth your path forward.

R. Clarke Speaks
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Trial Lawyer and Founder of Speaks Law Firm, P.C.