The divorce process is relatively similar across all states. However, as state law does govern divorce, subtle differences are not uncommon. If you have the option of filing for divorce in either Texas or North Carolina, but don't know which state to choose, understanding how the process works in both states can help you decide. You might find one is a better fit depending on your circumstances and long-term goals.
When spouses file for divorce, they must list a reason, or grounds, for why their marriage is coming to an end. There are only two grounds for divorce in North Carolina: a one-year separation or incurable insanity. Obviously, insanity will not apply to most cases as it is a very particular circumstance, which you must prove to the court. Therefore, couples that want divorce in North Carolina must live separate and apart for one year before a court will dissolve their marriage. In contrast, Texas provides seven grounds for divorce, including adultery, cruelty, separation, felony conviction and abandonment. Texas also offers the no-fault ground of insupportability, which allows spouses to divorce without having to place blame on the other party to do so. A Texas court can grant a divorce 60 days after the divorce petition is filed with court if both parties are in agreement as to the terms of the divorce.
During the divorce process, the court divide marital property between spouses, which is typically property acquired during the marriage, with limited exceptions. How this property is divided depends on state law. North Carolina is an equitable distribution state, which means the court divides property in a manner that is fair and just, although not necessarily equal, after evaluating several factors outlined in the North Carolina statutes. Common factors include the duration of the marriage, ages and health of the spouses, and each spouse's contribution to the marriage, including the contribution as a homemaker. Fault is not relevant in the division of property, except if marital misconduct had an economic impact on the marital estate. Texas, on the other hand, is a community property state, which typically means that the court will automatically divide marital property equally between spouses in a divorce. However, Texas is unique in that courts are required to divide property in a manner that is "just and right" after evaluating several factors -- just like equitable distribution states -- meaning spouses might end up with an unequal division. The factors that Texas courts can consider when determining what is “just and right” when it comes to property division include who was at fault in the breakup of the marriage and the disparity of earning power between the spouses.
When it comes to deciding custody in divorce, courts in both Texas and North Carolina, as in all states, base their decision on what is in the best interest of the child. To make this determination, both states evaluate several factors, many of which are similar. For example, North Carolina considers such things as the child's age, the child's bond with parents and siblings, and each spouse's home environment and ability to care for the child. Texas considers many of the same factors as well as a child's wishes, child's emotional and physical needs, and any physical or emotional danger to the child. Texas's full list of factors is commonly referred to as the "Holley Factors," named after an influential Texas case.
In North Carolina, spouses who are deemed financially dependent upon the other spouse may receive alimony. To determine the amount and duration of alimony, the court will consider such factors as each spouse's earning capacity, age and mental and physical health, the length of the marriage, the standard of living established during the marriage, marital misconduct, and any other relevant factors. Texas is stricter when it comes to alimony -- and will only award it if the marriage lasted 10 years or more, the requesting spouse lacks sufficient property to provide for her needs and is unable to work due to either a mental or physical disability, is caring for a disabled child, or lacks the earning capacity to meet her minimum reasonable needs.