The Divorce Judgment

North Carolina requires one year of physical separation (living in separate residences) before a spouse is eligible to file an action for divorce. Once filed, the other spouse must be legally served with the action. Following legal service, the non-filing spouse must be allowed at least 30 days to file an answer in the proceeding. The initiating spouse can complete the final steps to obtain the judgment from the court only after the 30-day period to answer has passed. Basically the only two issues the court will consider in deciding whether to grant the action are whether the non-filing spouse was properly served with notice of the proceeding, and whether the spouses have lived separate and apart for at least a year prior to the filing of the action. Resumption of a maiden name can be included in the judgment but it must be requested by the spouse desiring resumption prior to entry of the judgment.

An empty swing. Clemmons Family Law focuses on divorce and divorce judgments. Photo by Rene Asmussen from Pexels

As legal proceedings go, obtaining the divorce judgment is not complex, but the power of the decree to terminate certain legal rights cannot be overemphasized. A claim for equitable distribution must be asserted prior to the entry of the decree because legal standing to file the claim terminates with the decree. Obtaining a fair and just division of the marital estate can only be assured under equitable distribution law, otherwise there is considerable risk that individually-owned property will not be divided. Often the most valuable assets in marital estates are individually-owned retirement accounts, which are only subject to division as part of the marital estate under equitable distribution law. Similarly, a claim for spousal support must be asserted prior to the entry of the decree because legal standing to file for spousal support terminates with the entry of the decree. A dependent spouse must be able to use alimony law to ensure he/she has enforceable rights to request and receive adequate support for an appropriate length of time following the entry of the decree.

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At Clemmons Family Law, we will ensure the validity of the process in obtaining your divorce, and that your necessary claims are timely asserted and protected prior to the entry of the divorce judgment. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and discuss your divorce. Call us by phone at 336-766-2222 or email us at

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