After the divorce is final - contest or modify

North Carolina is unlike many states. A divorce ordinarily does not resolve the issues you described in your inquiry. A divorce is simply to change your legal status of being married to your spouse. The other issues you described may have been handled in other court orders, but not the divorce decree. There is a time limit for appealing or filing a motion for new trial in order to change the ruling of a particular court order. However, if “you” were served and simply refused to participate, and it happens, it is unlikely you will get the Court to “undo” the ruling. Certain things are subject to “modification” if a change of circumstances can be shown: child support, custody (as expressed in your inquiry), alimony, etc. and as such

It is important to note that if a divorce decree is entered by a judge before the issues of alimony, and equitable distribution are handled, the issues are closed and cannot be raised again.

The issues of equitable distribution and alimony may be handled in a separation agreement or preserved by filing litigation.

The main question I believe you raise is, “What about the fact that I was not present?” As long as your spouse met all the legal requirements for the divorce, served you properly, and followed the rules of court, the issues of alimony and equitable distribution are closed for reveiw, despite the fact that you were not present. The best advice is to talk to an attorney immediately about your situation and what options your specific circumstance leaves open. Best of luck with this situation.

Janet L. Fritts
Attorney at Law
4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 200
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service but a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action.

The divorce was finalized without one party present. After the fact, can you contest the ruling or are you supposed to request modification to the ruling? The absent party has never signed anything. Many issues where not addressed in the divorce ie tax deductions, insurance, marital debt. Other issues needing addressed are visitation being supervised by the ex and at her sole discretion and the open ended alimony ordered.