We all know what it means to get divorced. But you might not know exactly what getting divorced in North Carolina really means when it comes to your rights and obligations. Here’s what you need to know about what it means to get divorced in North Carolina:
Extinguishing a Legal Relationship
When you get divorced, any legal right that you might have by reason of your marriage ends. If your employer offers health insurance to spouses, your spouse can no longer access those health benefits after you’re officially divorced. Your former spouse loses any right they used to have to inherit any of your property after your death. Family leave benefits end and even your right to refuse to testify against a spouse in court is extinguished when the judge stamps your divorce finalized. You may still get social security based on the period you were married, but all of the legal rights and benefits that come with your marriage end.
Divorce Doesn’t Change Contractual Beneficiaries
It’s important to understand that while a divorce extinguishes legal relationships, contractual obligations stay the same. After your divorce, it’s important to update all of your financial records and your will. If your former spouse is listed as the surviving beneficiary on your bank accounts or life insurance, it’s important to update these accounts with your preferences.
Your divorce might require you to leave certain beneficiaries the same. The court might order you to split a pension with your former spouse or list them as a beneficiary on your life insurance. You have to follow the court order accordingly.
However, if the court order doesn’t say that you have to name your former spouse as a beneficiary on an account, you’re free to update the account to a new beneficiary of your choice. In fact, it’s very important to update the beneficiary to represent your wishes. Your judgment of divorce alone often isn’t enough to remove them as a beneficiary if they’re still listed on one of your accounts after your divorce.
The Court May Enforce Its Judgment
Your divorce may not be the last time that you have to encounter your ex. The court has the power to enforce its judgment of divorce. If the other side doesn’t do their part to live up to the terms of your divorce, you can ask the court to step in.
Most people think (or hope) that the day of their divorce judgment is the last time they’ll ever hear from their spouse. That usually isn’t the case especially when the parties have minor children in common. You may still need to exchange paperwork, communicate regarding the children or exchange money. Getting divorced usually doesn’t mean having the last contact with your ex-spouse.