Can You File for a Divorce in North Carolina Without Having a Lawyer?

by Beverly Bird, studioD
You can prepare a petition and file for divorce on your own, but there are some risks.

You can prepare a petition and file for divorce on your own, but there are some risks.

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North Carolina is one of the easiest states in which to divorce, but it can also be one of the most difficult because you must deal with property claims separately from your actual divorce. Depending on your personal situation, you may be able to deal with your proceedings just fine without a lawyer – and legally, you're entitled to do so. Without professional advice, however, it's very easy to make a mistake that you won't be able to undo later.

Filing for Divorce

Some North Carolina counties make it easy for you to file for divorce on your own by offering self-service centers. If all you want is a divorce – you don't care about alimony, dividing your marital property or setting custody terms – you can simply file, then appear before a judge to give some brief testimony regarding the facts of your case. You can be divorced that easily. If you use an attorney, you don't even have to appear in court – your lawyer can handle the appearance for you.

Equitable Distribution Claims

If you don't ask the court to decide issues of property or alimony as part of your divorce, and if you and your spouse don't reach a written agreement regarding these matters, you can't go back to court after your divorce is final and ask the judge to decide these issues. You can only go back to court over issues relating to your children. If you want the court to deal with property or alimony issues, you must file a separate complaint for this relief as part of your divorce action. Property division is a tricky aspect of divorce, and you may need a lawyer to assist you.