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How Do I Obtain a Divorce in North Carolina?

North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state, which means that neither party has to prove marital fault in order for the court to grant a couple a divorce. However, in order to be eligible for an absolute divorce either spouse must live in North Carolina for at least six months prior to filing for divorce. Along with the residency requirement the court also requires that the parties be separated for one year, meaning the marital relationship has not been resumed and the parties are living separate and apart, or that one of the parties suffers from incurable insanity and there has been a three-year-separation period. It is more common for a divorce to be granted based on the one-year-separation requirement. When at least one of the parties intends to live permanently separate and apart from the other the court will consider that date the couple’s date of separation. Once the parties have lived separate and apart for at least 12 consecutive months since their date of separation, then either party can file a Complaint with the court for divorce to terminate the marriage. The non-filing party will received notice of the filing of the Complaint and typically has 30 days to file and Answer. After a specified period of time you may or may not have to appear in court and the judge will sign a divorce judgment making the divorce final. It is extremely important to know that an absolute divorce can be granted even if other issues are not resolved like child custody, child support, equitable distribution, and attorney fees. However, certain claims must be asserted before a divorce judgment is entered or it will be an absolute bar to the party’s right to receive it (i.e. equitable distribution, post separation support, and alimony.) The same goes for a claim for equitable distribution, except for some rare circumstances.