You hear about divorce so often in America, it feels like a simple, easy concept. Two people no longer want to be partners. They go to court and get a divorce.

It is all very straightforward. Your divorced friends seem happy with their new lives. It’s a normal risk you take when you marry. When you suddenly find yourself facing a divorce, you realize the process is more complicated than it appears.

Myths about divorce

 You ask acquaintances to share their divorce experiences. One friend tells you she divorced in California, but she is not sure how divorce works in North Carolina; however, she thinks each state has different laws. Another friend says her divorce was a disaster because she tried to save money by using her paralegal friend for advice while her husband hired a good attorney. After speaking to a co-worker and a couple of other people you know, you are more confused than when you started. What is the real story?

Myth #1: You can file for divorce fairly soon.

Divorce laws in North Carolina are not that simple. First, at least one of the partners must prove they have lived in the state for six months. Second, you and your partner must live in separate residences for one year before you can apply for a divorce.

Myth #2: Your court divorce will be different from other divorces.

While each divorce is unique to a couple’s situation, all court divorces consist of a basic menu of legal items: child custody, child support, alimony, division of property and the agreement to dissolve the marriage. Some couples will not need every item on the menu, such as childless partners. Any special issues will fall into one or another of these categories.

Myth #3: Your spouse can refuse to grant you a divorce.

Some spouses may say this, but legally, as long as you want a divorce, North Carolina law says that the divorce can legally go forward; it only takes one partner to file for divorce. You do not need your spouse’s permission.

Myth #4: You must split your marital assets in half.

This may be true in some states, but North Carolina follows a system of equitable asset distribution. Your attorney can explain why “equitable” is not the same as “equal,” but the property division will be fair to both of you.

Myth #5: You can get a cheaper divorce without an attorney.

Possibly, but too often you may save a little and lose a lot. Family Law attorneys specialize in all types of marital dissolution. They have court experience and knowledge of complex divorce laws in your state. They may save you money by skillfully arranging your divorce to minimize expensive court battles. Successful attorneys know the importance of helping their clients as cost-effectively as possible.