What is a Complaint for Divorce?
A Complaint for Divorce or divorce complaint is a type of lawsuit.
A legal “complaint” is a document signed by one of the parties to a divorce and is filed with the Clerk of Court in an appropriate jurisdiction.
The filing of a Complaint for Divorce may take place after the parties have already been legally separated and have reached an agreement on how to end the marriage and distribute assets or assign debt.
A Complaint for Divorce presents, often in very general terms, what the Plaintiff is asking the Court to do. Divorce lawyers may refer to that as the “relief sought.”
Complaints often set forth the different legal and factual issues as alleged by the plaintiff.
The Complaint also asks the Court to rule on legal issues involving such things as equal distribution or “E.D.,” alimony, custody of children, visitation, and child support.What Does Filing for Divorce Mean?
Filing for divorce in North Carolina begins or “institutes” the required legal process by which a married couple may end their marriage.
The parties may work through many issues together, but only a District Court Judge may issue a Divorce Decree.
As such, in every divorce in North Carolina, a lawsuit or “complaint” is required to be filed.
That does NOT mean every divorce goes to trial or that the parties are required to litigate.
Filing takes place with the Clerk of Court in an appropriate jurisdiction, as is set forth in the NC Divorce Laws.
There are filing requirements and rules for the process of obtaining a divorce in NC. Divorce actions are handled at the District Court level, as opposed to Superior Court.
The “amount in controversy” often alleged in personal injury and other civil actions is irrelevant to determining the “jurisdiction of the Court.”
Indeed, many actions for divorce in North Carolina involve financial matters with substantial assets (and debts) that easily meet or exceed the Superior Court $25,000+ amount in controversy minimum.
The Defendant in a divorce action in North Carolina is not thought of the person “at fault” or responsible for a divorce.
In fact, ordinarily the Plaintiff just happens to be the first person to “file.”
Either party to a marriage may file for a divorce. Both parties do not have to agree to get divorced.
That is different from a personal injury action, where the injured party files as the Plaintiff, and the tortfeasor, the person who was negligent or caused the harm, is the Defendant.
Upon filing, the Clerk of Court assigns a case number to the matter that identifies the year and the order in which it is filed within the system.
Thereafter, at least in Charlotte family court, a District Court judge is assigned to hear the matter.
It’s important to understand many Complaints for Divorce do not result in litigation or formal taking of evidence.
Legal issues, including the distribution of property and assets, are often handled through a more private process that may involve a type of contract between the spouses.
Divorce lawyers in Charlotte commonly use what is called a Separation Agreement or “SA” that sets forth, in writing, the agreement between the parties.
In the event the parties cannot agree as to legal or financial issues, the option for a trial before the assigned District Court Judge remains an option.
Filing of a lawsuit, including a Complaint for Divorce, includes “stamping” the complaint with an official seal or marking.
A Complaint is file-stamped with the date, time, and county of filing.
That is called the File Stamp and it is stamped on the front page of the complaint using a hand stamp or special type of machine that “stamps” the Complaint.
It may reference a File Number or Case Number and further include the initials of the assistant Clerk of Court who files and records the Complaint within the official system.
A Complaint for Divorce or Filing for Divorce is the formalized process of filing paperwork such that legal and factual issues maybe set forth and later addressed at trial, if necessary.How Long Does It Take to Get Divorced?
Sometimes people say, “I’ve filed for divorce,” meaning they’re separated and have begun the process of ending the marriage.
No formal paperwork is technically required to legally separate.
A Complaint for Divorce may be filed at any time; but, until the parties are legally separated as required by law, a divorce may not be granted.
The District Court Judge may issue a Decree of Divorce or Divorce Decree, under the NC Divorce Laws, only after the parties have been legally separated for at least one year.
There can be other legal requirements that must be met before a divorce may be granted.
In the event the parties cannot agree on things like Child Custody, Child Support, Alimony, or distribution of the martial assets through a process divorce lawyers refer to as “ED” or Equitable Distribution, a trial or hearing may be set to take evidence and work through those issues.
If a divorce “goes to trial,” the District Court Judge makes legal rulings. The District Court Judge also makes Findings of Fact.
There is no jury in family law cases involving divorce. The District Court Judge, after taking evidence, decides legal and factual issues.Charlotte Divorce Lawyer – Bill Powers
If you have questions about filing for divorce, it makes sense to speak with an attorney.
There are important timing and pleading requirements related to filing for divorce in North Carolina. Failure to comply with the divorce laws may result in the waiver of your ability to claim or “plead” for relief.
Prior to speaking to any family law inquiry, the Powers Law Firm PA will first conduct a “conflict check” to determine whether we are able to serve as legal counsel.
Consultation fees apply in family law matters. Our firm often requires a True General Retainer and charges hourly rates.
Your case matters.
Call Charlotte Divorce Attorney Bill Powers now to schedule a legal consultation: 704-342-4357