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LADY LAWYER, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  Family Law Attorney
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My wife and I want to file for divorce but we dont want to

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My wife and I want to file for divorce but we don't want to decide our equitable distribution until after we are divorced. I don't want to spend the money on an attorney so I want to draw up an agreement that we both can sign that states we agree to address our distribution after we are divorced. If I do that and we both sign it and have it noterized, is that legally binding or do I have to have an attorney do it? If I do it myself without an attorney, am I giving up any of my rights for an equitable distribution? In other words, will she automatically get more (ie. our house lets say) because I didn't use an attorney? How do I go about doing this? Where do I get the forms to do it.
Thank you,

Hello Greg,

Thanks for choosing! I look forward to helping you today. What state are you in? Why do the two of you want to wait until after the divorce to do this? Do you mean that you want to say how it is going to be divided in theory in the paperwork but just wait to actually divide it until after the divorce is final?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hello, thank you for answering. We are in NC. It has been taking me awhile to get all of our settlement issues together to be able to come to an agreement, so I want to go ahead and get divorced and then finish settling our distribution. We have talked about the distribution in general terms but with nothing concrete in writing yet.

Thanks for the reply, Greg!

You are talking about bifurcation here. This is where the court grants the couple a divorce - making them each legally single again - but reserves all remaining issues for trial at a later date. The remaining issues could include matters such as property distribution, child custody, child support, alimony or business valuation. NC does allow bifurcation and a North Carolina appeals court held that severance of a divorce claim from an equitable distribution claim does not contravene the state's equitable
distribution statute or prejudice substantial rights. Sharp v. Sharp, 84 N.C.
App. 128, 351 S.E.2d 799 (1987). Thus, you do not have to worry about not being about to get your fair share at a later date under NC's equitable distribution laws. That being said, there are no forms NC has in order to file for a bifurcated divorce. This is a specialized area of the law and thus, they don't make it easy on a lay person by providing a template. This is because each bifurcated divorce is different and what every couple wants bifurcated is different. Thus, you are left to either hire an attorney to get this done or you can draw up your own petition. You would have to file your petition for divorce but also file a motion, affidavit and order to bifurcate.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for that information. How do I go about filing for the petition for divorce. Where do I get that form and or what else is involved in doing that? Then how do I file a motion, affidavit and order to bifurcate? Is there a form for that and what else is involved in that? We are trying to handle the distribution of our assets ourselves, if possible, without having to hire attorney's or go to court. Neither one of us can really afford to do that so I'm hoping we can work it out. There are no children involved and no business worth so it's mainly our house. So do we still need to file a motion to bifurcate or can I just draw up our own document that we both agree to settle out our distribution together at a later date? If so, if we changed our mind and couldn't work it out between us, and we had to go to court after all, how would that effect the divorce or the distribution? Thank you.

Hi Greg,

You can find the forms for a pro se, uncontested divorce here:

With regard to the motion, affidavit and order for bifurcation, NC does not provide those. That is something you would have to draw up yourself and submit if you do not want to hire an attorney. You can see what one from Alaska looks like here: This is in regard to child support issues though and you guys are going to want to do one in regard to property division, but at least you can see the structure of what one might look like. You have to ask the court to bifurcate the property division issue if it is going to be able to grant you a divorce without deciding that issue. There is just no way around it. Basically, what it is saying is that you will decide on the issues later, but that if you cannot, you may need a trial on them. So no, you are not giving up any rights by bifurcation. You always have the option for a trial if you can't work out the division between the two of you.

If you have any further questions, I am happy to answer them! If not, would you kindly consider a positive service rating for me at this time? It costs you nothing further to do but it is the only way the site will pay me for my time. Thanks!

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you again for the info. I totally plan on giving you a glowing recommendation and I realize that I may be asking more questions than I pd. for so I just signed up for the 7 day trial membership. Therefore, can I keep asking you questions and you get paid more for the more questions I ask? If so, let me know because I definitely have more I want to ask you regarding the things you just told me and sent me.

Thank you,


You're too kind, Greg. I appreciate you wanting to compensate me for the extra time spent and really, I am happy to keep helping you for as long as you need it. What we can do is go ahead and close out this question by leaving a rating and then open another one using this link: and also starting off your question by saying "For Lady Lawyer Only." This way, my colleagues won't jump in and try to answer. Everyone is eager to help around here. :) Thanks so much!
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I will do that but I'd also like to save your comments and links that you have already sent me. I'm assuming that will be in my history like another computer issue conversation I had, in the past, is that correct?

Yes, that is correct. It is automatically saved to the archive when you leave a rating.
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