What is Used as Evidence in a Divorce Trial?
When two people get a divorce, it’s ideal when both parties agree on all the terms - however, it's not common. That's why people rely on divorce attorneys and may even need to go to court for a divorce trial. From dividing property to creating a child custody agreement, a divorce is a stressful event that often requires mediation or may even need to be settled by a judge. But what is used to build a case in a divorce trial?
Just like any other trial, evidence can be used to strengthen your case or to weaken the allegations of the other party. To help you better understand how you can improve the outcome of your case, our family law attorneys in Pinehurst, NC are sharing what you can use as evidence in a divorce trial and how it can help your case.
What Is a Contested Divorce?
North Carolina law dictates that a married couple must live separately and apart with no plans of reconciliation for one year before either spouse can file for divorce. While a simple or uncontested divorce means that both parties agree to all terms and part ways, a contested divorce results when:
- One spouse does not want a divorce and refuses to sign paperwork or take part in proceedings.
- One spouse challenges the grounds for divorce entered in the filing, or
- The two parties can’t reach an agreement on the terms of the divorce, such as how property is divided or child custody.
Grounds for Divorce in North Carolina
There can be many reasons to end a marriage. However, North Carolina is a “no-fault state” which means that neither party needs to prove fault for why the marriage ended in order to have the divorce granted. While the law does not need proof of fault to end the marriage, proving the other party was at fault for the failure of the marriage can impact the terms of the divorce trial, such as receiving spousal support. Common grounds for divorce include:
- Addiction, including alcohol, drugs, or gambling
- Abuse, including physical, emotional, verbal, or financial
Factors That Can Affect the Outcome of a Divorce Settlement
Before we dive deeper into evidence that can be used in a divorce trial, let’s look at the factors that can affect the outcome of a divorce settlement as this will provide greater clarity as to the kind of evidence you’ll want to gather for your case.
Equitable Division of Property in North Carolina
In North Carolina, marital property is not divided equally, it is divided equitably, or fairly depending on several factors, including:
- Earning potential of both parties
- Length of marriage
- Age and health of both spouses
- Contributions one spouse made to the education of the other
- Contributions one spouse made to the wellbeing and running of the household
- Whether one spouse wasted marital assets
For example, if one spouse was a homemaker throughout the marriage while the other spouse worked outside the home, building income, experience, and retirement benefits, the spouse who raised the children and “ran the household” may be more likely to receive a greater share of marital property.
During the divorce trial, a judge may also look at the factors above to determine alimony or post-separation support as well as the following factors:
- Marital misconduct, including infidelity, abuse, addiction, or abandonment
- Marital standard of living
- Spouse’s earning potential due to being a custodial parent
A judge in family court will determine child custody based on the best interest of the child, looking at factors including:
- Parental relationship with the child
- Both spouse’s physical and emotional health
- Ability to provide a safe, stable environment
- Ability to care and accommodate special needs
- Minimal disruption to the child’s life, such as staying in the same school and home
- Parent’s history of addiction
- Parent’s history of domestic violence or abuse
What Can Be Used as Evidence in a Divorce Trial
Depending on the terms of the divorce that are contested, let’s look at what kind of evidence can be brought forth to support your case in your divorce trial.
Emails, text messages, and other communication that can be verified can be used in your divorce case. For example, if you have a text message in which your spouse admits to infidelity, that could be used in your divorce trial.
Bank statements, tax records, and other financial documents can be used to prove matters such as your spouse’s ability to pay child support or alimony, and it can also be used to prove issues such as gambling addiction or wasting marital resources.
If domestic violence, drug use, or criminal activity are part of your grounds for divorce, police reports can be submitted to support your claims.
If electronic evidence, such as an audio or video recording can be submitted in most cases. North Carolina is a “single consent” state meaning that if you are part of the conversation, you can record it without the other party’s knowledge. However, you are not legally allowed to record a conversation in which you are not a part of without the consent of at least one person.
For example, you can record conversations with your spouse without their knowledge and submit it as evidence, but you can’t set a recording device in your spouse’s vehicle and record their conversations with another person without their knowledge or consent.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Family Law Attorney in Pinehurst Today
Contested divorce is a complicated, difficult time, and the outcome of your divorce can have long-lasting effects on your future. Not sure how to file for divorce in North Carolina? Reach out to the family law attorneys at Van Camp, Meacham & Newman to get the representation you need in your divorce trial by calling 910-295-2525 or filling out the form below to schedule a free consultation*.
*Some exceptions apply to consults regarding family law and divorce.