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Chapel Hill Divorce Lawyer

Divorce is a highly personal and emotional process. Even when a marriage is ending with both parties in agreement, the complications of untangling two lives can be difficult, frustrating, and traumatic. Finding a Chapel Hill divorce lawyer who is experienced and focused on providing an amicable and smooth path forward is an important step.

The images we see of divorce in the media are often prolonged, contested events that are highly focused on drama and nastiness. While some divorces are indeed contested, many can take place with agreement and mutual respect through the process of mediation and/or arbitration. While very few divorces are easy, an experienced and thoughtful Chapel Hill divorce lawyer can make the process go a lot more smoothly, giving everyone the tools they need to rebuild their lives.

PREPARING FOR DIVORCE

While there may be one specific event or disagreement that triggers a divorce, it is often a complex decision that happens over time. During that time, there are many things that you can do to make the actual divorce go more smoothly. Here are some steps you can take to prepare for divorce:

  • Open up the lines of communication– The end of a marriage is almost always an emotional process, but it is crucial that the lines of communication stay as open as possible. Laying the groundwork of being able to communicate honestly and directly with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse provides a strong foundation for an uncontested divorce in the future.
  • Get a clear picture of shared debts and assets– The divorce proceedings will require you to split up debts and assets, with each spouse receiving clear ownership of assets and responsibilities for debts. This process will be easier if you have accurate, thorough records of things like savings accounts, student loans, mortgages, car loans, and retirement accounts.
  • Find out where you disagree– Most divorcing couples recognize that a divorce will require negotiation and compromise, so it can be incredibly important to find out where the points of contention and disagreement are located. When it comes to big decisions like living arrangements (is someone keeping the house?), child custody (will both parents have equal decision-making power?), and financial support (will one spouse be making child support and/or alimony payments?), it’s helpful to find a starting point to see where negotiation needs to be focused.

DO I NEED A DIVORCE LAWYER?

When a divorcing couple agrees on most major elements, it can seem superfluous to hire a divorce lawyer. After all, if they have done the work of hashing out the big decisions, what’s left for a lawyer to do?

The truth is that divorce is often more complicated than it appears on the surface. When individuals make the arrangements themselves, they can miss important details that may cause problems later on. Many couples agree about big decisions such as living arrangements or educational decisions for their children during the early stages of a divorce, but then circumstances shift. One party decides to remarry, and the new dynamics cause a disruption to the plan. One person may get a job offer that would require an out-of-state move, and suddenly the custody arrangement no longer makes sense.

You cannot possibly predict all the ways that your lives will change after the divorce, but having your divorce agreements documented with the help of an experienced Chapel Hill divorce attorney means that you will have made contingencies for many likely scenarios. It will prevent future legal proceedings and eliminate the frustration, confusion, and instability of not being sure how the divorce plan impacts future choices.

Most importantly, having a divorce lawyer involved in the process gives everyone peace of mind that the agreement is being documented accurately and in a way that will be upheld over time.

THE DIVORCE PROCESS IN NORTH CAROLINA

North Carolina is a “no-fault” state when it comes to divorces. This means that couples who have decided to end their marriage do not need to prove that one party is to blame for the divorce. There does not need to be evidence of abuse, infidelity, or illegal activity. Two people can simply decide they no longer wish to be married.

North Carolina, does, however, impose some requirements on what has to happen before a no-fault divorce will be granted:

  • Residency requirement– The divorcing couple must have resided in the state of North Carolina for a minimum of six months before filing for a divorce.
  • Separation requirement– The divorcing couple must have been living separately (and with the intention of at least one spouse that these living arrangements were permanent) for at least one year prior to filing for divorce.

If these two conditions are met, an uncontested divorce can be filed relatively quickly and easily in North Carolina. After one year and one day of living separately, one spouse can “serve” the other one with a divorce summons and complaint. At that point, there will be a hearing scheduled to finalize the divorce proceedings. If there is no contest, only the filing spouse has to show up to the hearing (and sometimes your lawyer can appear and the filing spouse does not have to come to the hearing either). The other spouse can demonstrate that they do not contest by not attending the proceedings, by filing an answer agreeing to everything, or by filing a waiver to answer. At the end of the hearing, the divorce is final.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF MEDIATION WITH A CHAPEL HILL DIVORCE LAWYER?

As you can see from the divorce process in North Carolina, the details about your children, money, property, and debts are very important. If both parties can agree to these details and have them in a binding agreement or consent order prior to filing for the divorce, then the divorce itself will be a smooth process with little need for legal intervention.

This means that mediation is one of the most important steps to arriving at a fair, balanced, and uncontested resolution. An experienced Chapel Hill divorce lawyer can either serve as your lawyer in mediation OR serve as a mediator to help both parties negotiate the details of their separation with a focus on the following elements:

  • Financial agreements
  • Child custody arrangements
  • Allocation of debts and assets

If the divorcing couple is unable to reach an agreement through mediation, then they may seek a court ruling on these issues. If requested, the Court will make a ruling on “equitable distribution.” In North Carolina, a 50/50 division is presumed to be equitable, but there are many factors that can make unequal be equitable. Likewise, if the Court will award custody as appropriate based on the best interests of the children, and child support, more often than not, based on the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines. Alimony will be determined based on the accustomed standard of living during the marriage, along with the actual needs and ability to pay of each spouse and consideration of many other factors. Ultimately, the best way to ensure that both parties have a say in how their finances, children’s issues, property, and debt will be handled is to reach an agreement rather than to rely upon the Court.

FINDING THE BEST CHAPEL HILL DIVORCE LAWYER FOR YOU

When you’re looking for a Chapel Hill divorce lawyer, you want to make sure that you find someone who has experience in complex financial and personal arrangements. Many divorcing couples have amassed assets including the primary home, rental or vacation properties, and vehicles. In addition, many couples will find themselves with shared debt in the form of credit cards, mortgages, and vehicle loans. Couples who have minor children still living in the home will have the added complication of determining a fair and workable custody arrangement.

An experienced Chapel Hill divorce lawyer will know what questions to ask and how to open up conversations to get these negotiations underway meaningfully. You want to find a lawyer who is good at listening to your needs and will pay attention to the details of your specific case.

Whatever your divorce needs are, Triangle Smart Divorce can help. Contact us today to schedule a call to discuss your unique situation.

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What our clients say

"Across three states, Jenny was hands-down the best divorce lawyer I worked with! Authentic, savvy, insightful, tough, empathetic and effective. Can ’t say enough good things about her."

Don

Former Client

"The entire staff at Triangle Smart Divorce has been wonderful. My divorce has been extremely complicated and difficult, they have helped and been successful at every turn. They are more than competent and are also very compassionate individuals. They will and do walk you through each and every step to obtain the best results for you. An amazing team!"

Hoss

Former Client

"I would rate everything about my experience with Triangle Smart Divorce as 5 stars. The hardest step of any big decision is the first step. Jessica set the tone from the very first phone call. She was compassionate, calming and reassuring. The whole team has continued to work to maintain a supportive environment during the most difficult time of my life. I’m very grateful."

Raleigh

Former Client

"Jenny Bradley and her team at Triangle Smart Divorce was the best decision I made. "

Jennifer

Former Client

"Great firm! An outstanding group of professionals who are knowledgeable and care about their clients. I recommend Julianne and the firm to my clients and friends needing divorce and family law services."

Kathrine

Former Client

"I felt heard, understood and listened to. Always there when I needed them! Had my best interest at heart and never let me down!"

Timothy

Former Client

"Outstanding firm. Try to work with their clients. Listens like a therapist. I am thoroughly pleased with the services I have been provided."

Ken

Former Client

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Frequently Asked Questions

IS IT WORTH IT TO GET A DIVORCE LAWYER?

A divorce lawyer may seem like an extra expense if both parties agree on the big decisions, but the details of a divorce can be complex and hard to navigate without an expert, and getting the agreement properly written ensures that everyone has the security and clarity they need to move forward with their lives. It’s better to do it right the first time than have to keep going back and fixing mistakes. And, in some cases, you may not be able to fix your mistakes.

WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD YOU ASK A DIVORCE LAWYER?

You should ask a potential divorce lawyer about their prior experience with cases like yours, their approach to negotiations when couples reach a disagreement, and their personal success rate in arriving at a resolution through negotiation and/or mediation.

WHAT CAN YOU NOT DO DURING A DIVORCE?

You cannot have one lawyer serve both parties in a divorce. This would be a conflict of interest. It’s incredibly important that each party feels their individual needs are represented and voiced, and that cannot be done with a single lawyer serving as the representative for both parties.

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