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How to Get a North Carolina Divorce



A North Carolina divorce begins with separation. In most cases, you can be granted a divorce only after proving that you have lived at least one year separately from your spouse.

Therefore, if you are seeking a divorce in North Carolina, either you or your spouse will have to move to a new location. The courts do not recognize a couple as separated if they continue to live in the same place, no matter how estranged the relationship.

The courts in North Carolina prefer spouses consider and negotiate all major issues surrounding the break-up while separated. While every divorce has a unique set of circumstances, the most hotly contested disagreements tend to center around four major topics:

  • Division of property and debts
  • Whether one spouse will pay alimony to the other
  • Who will get custody of the children and how much visitation will the other spouse get
  • How much child support will the non-custodial parent pay

All of these issues must be addressed before a North Carolina judge can grant an absolute divorce, which legally ends the marriage. If the spouses cannot come to an agreement, a judge will make the decisions for them. The judges decision will be final. It is better, therefore, to come to an agreement with your spouse. Your North Carolina divorce attorney can best advise you how to proceed.

North Carolina Divorce

While you are not be required to go to court to formalize the separation, it is a good idea to do so, as it will clearly establish when the separation began.

It is also crucial, especially if you have children, to write up a separation agreement, which typically covers:

  • With whom the children will live during the separation
  • Child support
  • Who gets the marital home
  • How to split the property and debts

The states court system offers details about North Carolina divorces online.

North Carolina Divorce Process

After you have lived separately from your spouse for a year, you may file a claim for an absolute divorce judgment. To qualify for a divorce in North Carolina, either you or your spouse has to have lived in the state six months before filing divorce documents.

Included in your request for a divorce should be your claims, or desires, in how to split the property and debts, and whether you want alimony. These issues cannot be re-negotiated after the final hearing.

After filing your complaint for an absolute divorce in North Carolina, your attorney will send a notice, or civil summons, signed by the court clerk to your spouse that puts him or her on notice of your effort to get a divorce. Your spouse, then, will have 30 days to file an answer to your complaint.

If you spouse does not want to contest the divorce, he or she can complete a waiver and acceptance of service form, notarize it, and send it to the court. If, however, you spouse does want to contest either the divorce or the terms you seek in your divorce, your spouses answer will spell that out for you. You then can request a court date.

North Carolina is a "no-fault" divorce state, meaning you do not have to prove anyone caused the divorce. There are only two grounds, or legal reasons, to get a divorce. The most common is that you and your spouse have lived separately for a year. The other is if you can show that your spouse has suffered incurable insanity or mental illness for at least three years.