Court date set, what's next?

What can I expect in court? My court date is in August and we have yet to come up with a separation agreement. She and I had a conversation that went better than I thought, so I’m hoping that it is a good thing.

She avoided my question asking if she had an attorney. When I filed I told the clerk that I didn’t know if she had an attorney, so I was told to check the ‘no’ box. What if she comes in with an attorney on the court?

Will I have the opportunity to request that the trial be rescheduled or do I just roll with it and hope for the best?

What can I expect from the judge?

Will the ruling come out that day, will I be deemed ‘divorced’?

It sounds like your court date is for an absolute divorce. If so, you can expect to testify about the facts in your complaint for absolute divorce (date of marriage, date of separation, having separated with the intent to remain permanently separate and apart, etc.). You will usually not be asked any questions by the opposing party or the judge. You will then hand up your prepared divorce judgment and the judge will sign it (you need to have 3 copies of a divorce judgment with you). The judge would then sign the judgment and you will be divorced once the clerk file stamps the judgment.

If your wife comes to court with an attorney, you can ask the judge for a continuance or for it to come off the calendar, but this is not sufficient grounds to have either of these requests granted.

You should be cautious about getting an absolute divorce without a separation agreement or an equitable distribution claim pending. If there is marital property to divide and you do not have a fully executed separation agreement dividing the marital property or a claim for equitable distribution filed with the court and open and pending, then you will be no longer be able to ask the court to divide your marital property once the absolute divorce is granted.

Anna Ayscue

Attorney with Rosen Law Firm Cary • Chapel Hill • Durham • Raleigh • Wake Forest

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