How to Obtain a Divorce in North Carolina

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Obtaining a divorce in North Carolina is not an overly complicated process as North Carolina is one of the easier states in which to get a divorce. One or both of the petitioners for divorce must only have lived in the state for six months before they file for divorce there. Divorce does not require the consent of both spouses if there has been a yearlong separation and the correct papers have been filed with the court. North Carolina divorces do not require fault to be established. There are two grounds for divorce in North Carolina: separation or incurable insanity of one spouse.

You must be separated prior to petitioning for divorce. The required period of separation is usually one year, though if you wish to file for divorce based on the incurable insanity of one spouse, the required separation period is three years. If you resume a relationship in this time or have sexual relations, this is not counted as a valid separation period. You must live in separate residences for the year. However, you will not be asked to provide documents when you first separate to prove that you are living separately. Your word is sufficient proof.

File a divorce complaint and summons after the first (or third) year of separation has elapsed. This can either be done by you or by a divorce lawyer. The complaint and summons must be filed in your county of residence with the court clerk. The complaint and summons must be either served on your spouse by a sheriff or sent by certified mail. If your spouse cannot or won't allow herself to be reached by either sheriff or mail, you must file a "Notice of Service of Process by Publication." This entails placing a notice in a paper local to the county where she last resided.

Your spouse will be given time to contest the divorce and file her own papers. If she contests anything in the divorce, a hearing will be held to resolve matters. If a spouse does not contest the divorce of if she lets a period of time pass before signing the divorce papers or filing her own papers, this may be considered uncontested. A judge will declare you divorced after a hearing, and after he signs the divorce judgment and the clerk stamps it, you are divorced.


  • Alimony, child support and custody applications may be filed at the same time as the divorce, but can be resolved after the divorce is finalized. "Divorce from Bed and Board" may also be sought where there is clear fault on one side. These faults may include abandonment, drug or alcohol problems, infidelity, cruelty or malicious eviction.


  • Alimony must be sought before the divorce is finalized or else you lose the right to seek it.



About the Author

Edie Grace has been writing and editing since 2008. Her work has been published in medical magazines and aired on radio. She has written about skin conditions, cardiovascular health and surgery. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and music and a Master of Arts in journalism.

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