Divorce Law

There are only two grounds for divorce in North Carolina: 1) Separation for One Year; or 2) Incurable Insanity of One Spouse and Separation for Three Years. The vast majority of marriages are dissolved based on the ground of separation for one year. In order to get divorced, you must have been separated for one year and at least one spouse must have had the intent to remain separate and apart. In addition, one of you must have been a resident of North Carolina for at least six months. Fault is not necessary to obtain a divorce.

What Do I Need to Do to Get Divorced?
You have to file a Complaint (lawsuit) asking for a divorce. You cannot file a divorce complaint until after you and your spouse have been separated for one year. You have to serve your spouse with the Complaint. Service is usually accomplished by certified mail or personal delivery by a Sheriff. Then you will need a hearing in front of a judge. The judge has to enter a Judgment set declaring you divorced. You are not divorced until the judge signs a Judgment and the clerk file stamps it. A wife can seek to regain her maiden name in a divorce proceeding.

Does it Matter Who Files for the Divorce?
No. The person who files for the divorce is responsible for filing the appropriate papers, paying the filing fee and getting the hearing scheduled. However, there is no advantage to filing first.

How Long Does the Divorce Process Take?
The length of the process varies based on how long it takes to get service of your spouse and how soon the clerk schedules the divorce hearing. Generally, it should take approximately 60 days after the Complaint is filed.

What is the Effect of a Divorce?
There are many important effects of a divorce. First, the entry of a divorce cuts off your right to
alimony and property division. If those claims have not been resolved in a valid and binding Agreement or properly filed with the court prior to the entry of the divorce judgment, they are lost forever. The loss of those claims can be devastating. If you have a claim for alimony or if you or your spouse acquired property during the marriage (house, cars, bank accounts, retirement, etc.), you need to consult an attorney to protect those claims. Second, the entry of a divorce changes your tax filing status. Third, the entry of a divorce enables you to remarry. Fourth, the entry of a divorce cuts off your rights to inherit from your spouse. Fifth, it can alter the way your house is owned if you own a house with your spouse.