Process and rights

I made a terrible mistake marrying my husband several months ago. He is in the Army. He has told me on and off that he wants a divorce and I belive that this is for the best, as I am afraid of him. (I should note that he has not been violent, but I am afraid that it may head in this direction.) I know nothing of the divorce process, my rights, attorney fees, etc. What are my rights? What is the process for divorce in North Carolina? Is there a way to complete a divorce without an attorney? I do not have the funds for a lawyer.

Thank you.

You do not have to have an attorney to get a divorce. It is recommended though that you have an attorney, or at least consult with one, if you have property together or minor children. Those are important issues that you will want to protect, ideally via a separation agreement. If you don’t have children or property together, then your divorce should be very straight-forward. One of you will need to move out of the marital residence to start the required separation period of one year and one day. You have to be separated for that period of time prior to your filing for divorce. So, I’d recommend you move out as soon as you can, even if you have to stay temporarily with a friend and family member. If you are the dependent spouse, then you should file for post-separation support and alimony. If you have children, then you would also file for child support and custody. If you have property together or joint debts, then you would want to file equitable distribution as well. You should try negotiating for a Separation Agreement first since it will be easier than having all of that litigation to go through. It would be in your best interest to at least consult with an attorney now to help you create a plan of action for your situation.

Thank you! We do not have children or shared property. He does not want to give up claim to the apartment, but I have no place to go (and he can stay on the Army base…and we also live an hour from base!). What suggestions do you have regarding negotiaions for moving out?

Also, what are the necessary parts of a seperation agreement? As an Army Wife, what are my rights? I am concerned about affording a place that is comfortable for me without our combined incomes. He makes more than me and, while I have a job with benefits and I hate to ask this, am I entitled to any financial assistance?

How do I serve him with divorce papers? What forms are necessary to begin the process?

Also, how do we establish a formal seperation? (Meaning, how do we prove the date the seperation began?)

Probably the best way to do it for you would be for you to stay in the apartment, and him to agree to live on base. If he will agree to this, then you should work out a separation agreement. In NC, you don’t have to prove the date of separation unless the other party contests it in their Answer to your Complaint for divorce. Usually, this is not contested and the court goes by the date that is listed in the Complaint. You cannot serve him with divorce papers until you’ve been separated for one year and one day. Then you will need to serve with with the Complaint and he will have 30 days to Answer. Then you can have the absolute divorce hearing before a judge and she can sign your Order (divorce judgment).

You might be a dependent spouse. If you have been dependent on his income during the most recent period of your marriage, then you could qualify for both post-separation support and alimony. If you make roughly the same, or close to it, then you would likely not be considered a dependent spouse.

Can we have my husband’s name taken off of the lease? I am afraid of him entering the apartment without my knowledge.

If there is a high level of argument and disrespect, is a collaborative divorce possible?

Can we use the same attorney in a collaborative divorce?

How do I find out my rights as an “Army Wife”?

My husband abuses alcohol and is occasionally volatile. How does this play into a divorce?

You should immediately change the locks to your apartment. He cannot just enter without your permission once he has left the marital residence. I don’t know if you can remove him from the lease. You should talk to whoever is in charge at your complex. Most likely, he will remain on the lease (unless your ex and the landlord both agree to release him) but you should change the locks to keep him from re-entering in the meantime.

If there is a high-level of animosity, then it is unlikely you will be able to have a collaborative divorce. This usually works best for couples who are amicable.

No. You must use two different attorneys, both of whom are trained in the same collaborative methodology.

I don’t know what you mean here. I can tell you that NC treats military retirement just like any other martial retirement asset, and will divide the retirement if doing so is necessary to effectuate an equitable distribution.

Alcohol abuse is unlikely to play a role in the divorce. It would be relevant for a divorce from bed and board action, but it’s unlikely you will need that in your situation. It could be relevant in custody also if you wished to have primary custody.