Alabama Divorce Lawyers Alarmed by Proposed NC Law Change

Posted by Steven D. Eversole | Apr 28, 2013 | 0 Comments

A bill was recently introduced in North Carolina that would make it tougher for married couples to obtain a divorce – even those without children and whose cases are fairly straightforward.

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Our Birmingham divorce lawyersunderstand that the North Carolina bill would mandate a two-year waiting period upon application of a divorce from either party. Additionally, couples would be forced to undergo a counseling courses on conflict resolution and improving communication skills. If the couple have a child in common, they would be required to undergo a separate course on the impact of divorce on children.

While we do understand the desire of conservative politicians to strengthen the bonds of marriage,the reality is that many of these unions are irretrievably broken, all parties involved know it and no one is done any favors by having the process dragged out for years.

Proponents of the measure say divorce is far too easy and that making it harder will keep people together. Perhaps that is true in some cases.

However, people end their marriages for all sorts of reasons – many of them very good ones. If your spouse cheats on you and you don't have children, you may not have any interest at all in working on improving your communications with them. It's painful as it is, you don't need more time to think about it and you simply want to be done with it.

With the current divorce waiting period in  North Carolina at one year, it's already one of the longest in the Southeastern United States as it is. Virginia and South Carolina also require on year. But in Tennessee and Georgia, couples need only wait a few weeks. In Florida, couples can actually file their request online.

In Alabama, there is no waiting period for which to file. Couples don't have to file for legal separation if they don't want to do so (although there may be advantages to it, depending on the circumstances of your case). According to Alabama Code Section 30-2-8.1, the judge has to wait at least 30 days from the filing of the complaint in order to enter a final judgement of divorce. Temporary custody, child support, visitation, exclusive occupancy and restraining orders are exempt from this waiting period.

One very troubling aspect of the North Carolina measure is that there is no special exception made for victims of abuse or domestic violence. Legislators said they "might" add that to the bill before it reaches the Senate floor, but it wasn't a guarantee.

To force victims of abuse to endure an additional year of being tied to an abuser is not only cruel, it's potentially dangerous.

In Alabama, there are a dozen different legal grounds for divorce. Those include adultery, voluntary abandonment, imprisonment, commission of a crime against nature, addiction, a long-term mental hospital confinement, domestic violence or the pregnancy of a woman before marriage with someone else's child. All of those require a finding of fault, Most usually, people file under either incompatibility or irretrievable breakdown of the marriage – neither of which requires proof of fault.

Although the law in North Carolina won't have any direct effect here, even if it is passed, we'll be watching it closely. We here in Alabama also have a generally conservative legislature, and it's not out of the question that should this North Carolina law gain traction, Alabama may soon find itself introduced to something similar.

If you are contemplating a divorce in Birmingham, contact Birmingham Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

Additional Resources:

North Carolina lawmaker wants to impose a two-year waiting period for divorce, March 29, 2013, By Katie mcDonough, Salon.com

About the Author

Steven D. Eversole

J.D., Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama B.A., University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

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