3 Paths to Starting Your Divorce

1 Simple

Ink Scrolls and BooksYou can get divorced in a simplified process if neither spouse asks the court to do anything other than sign a divorce decree. This is ideal if neither spouse anticipates any disputes. For example, if you both reached an agreement on divorce terms in a separation agreement, or if you have already been separated for 5+ years.

You can hire a law firm like King @ Law to handle your simple divorce for you, purchase DIY tools that automatically prepare your paperwork (our tools are here and here), or go full DIY and prepare all of the documents from scratch.

2 Negotiated

Negotiations between a man and a womanThis is the ideal starting point for most divorces. First, you gather information about the income, assets, and debts of both spouses. Then, each spouse shares offers and counter-offers for divorce terms, based on how North Carolina law applies to their finances.

If you are able to reach an agreement, you sign a separation agreement, and proceed to a simple divorce filing (path 1). If you cannot agree, then you have to resolve your differences in court (path 3).

You can hire a law firm like King @ Law to handle negotiations for you, use DIY tools (ours here and here are $85 each), or go full DIY. I especially like our settlement proposal tool. You provide detailed financial information and it calculates fair settlement terms based on the information you provided. It puts these terms into a settlement proposal with a detailed accounting and an explanation of the law.

3 Litigated

Negotiations between a man and a womanThis is ideal for emergencies like child abuse or restraining orders. Also, it’s the only path that does not require your spouse’s voluntary cooperation. The court will order your spouse to produce documents, participate in mediation, and cooperation in litigation. However, many parties describe litigation as a second job. It often involves preparing and reviewing hundreds of pages of documents, like tax returns and bank statements.

In most cases, litigation is ultimately resolved through negotiation, not trial. However, the threat of a court ordering a spouse to comply with divorce law can compel them to hire an attorney and negotiate more reasonably. It’s a tool to compel your spouse to come to the table and make a reasonable offer. We have a flat-fee service to get litigation started here, for local clients in the RTP area.

In Summary

See if your divorce falls under one of the special circumstances where litigation or a simple divorce filing are the most practical starting point. If not, start with the “Negotiations” path by collecting financial information and providing an accounting to support proposed settlement terms. Then move to litigation or a simple divorce filing depending on the success or failure of negotiations.


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