As the state’s largest, Mecklenburg County handles more divorces per year than any other county in North Carolina. Luckily, the number of disunions is near historic lows.
How common is divorce in Charlotte?
Mecklenburg County recorded 3,388 divorces in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available.
That’s the lowest number since 1998 — even as our area has exploded in population.
There were 4,454 divorces in 2014. The high point appears to be the 4,960 divorces in 2005.
On the bright side, the number of marriages appears to be increasing. There were 7,020 marriages in 2015, a jump from the 6,621 in 2014. Records from the Register of Deeds indicate there were 7,239 marriages in 2016.
Lawyers are technically not necessary, but are almost always used.
Noth Carolina is a “no-fault” divorce state, meaning that neither party needs to prove wrongdoing to be granted a divorce. This opens the door to quick, simple divorces. Mecklenburg County offers all the paperwork online to carry out a divorce without an attorney.
But this is probably not a good idea.
“The famous saying from local judges is doing your own divorce is like doing your own dental work,” said local attorney Eric Trosch, who literally wrote the book on divorce in North Carolina. “Frankly the most expensive divorces occur when one or both of the parties is unrepresented begins negotiations or mediation without advice and then realizes that they agreed either in writing or orally to something that they later learn is unfair.”
The N.C. Bar Association lists 35 lawyers in Charlotte who specialize in family law, which includes divorces.
What North Carolina rules are in play?
1) Couples must have lived in North Carolina for at least six months. This is required for the state to have jurisdiction.
2) The couple must physically separate. The married partners must have lived apart for one year and one day before a petition for divorce can be finalized. A spouse can file for support and property division as soon as the couple separates. The couple can also begin working on a separation agreement and alimony claims.
3) One spouse must file a petition for divorce. This divorce complaint will be filed with the clerk of court in Mecklenburg County.
How much does divorce cost in Charlotte?
Setting aside the splitting of assets, legal fees for a divorce aren’t cheap in Charlotte.
Many law firms in Charlotte advertise a flat fee for simple divorces. These are generally about $1,000 to $1,250 (on top of a $100 to $300 consultation fee).
If money is especially tight, the Mecklenburg County Bar offers $50 divorce consultations with the assistance of Legal Aid.
Preparing a separation agreement costs $3,000 at the bare minimum more if it’s uncontested. The cost of negotiating a separation agreement generally begins at $6,000 to $10,000 and can go way higher.
The Rosen law firm has a straightforward flat fee schedule. Amicable divorces start at $7,000, contested divorces start at $10,000 and complex divorces start at $25,000.
Beyond that, you’re getting into the attorneys’ hourly rates which are generally around $300 per hour.
A Lawyers.com survey showed that the average North Carolina divorce ran $13,000. If children are involved, the averages goes to $16,000 to $23,000. If the couple is rich, the average cost is $33,000.
How long does it take?
Simple divorces generally take two to three months to complete after the separation period.
Charlotte is a leader in “collaborative divorce”
This is also known as “divorce with dignity.” The couple signs a contract agreeing not to go to court. Lawyers help guide the negotiations. All financial information is voluntarily disclosed. It’s generally cheaper, but still not cheap.