Divorce Process

This blog discusses the divorce process in North Carolina. For those preparing for a divorce, there are many things to consider. One of the most common family law topics that people have questions about is divorce. The rules behind divorce in North Carolina are pretty straightforward but what people usually have questions about is the divorce process, meaning the steps to take in order to get a divorce decree.

In this blog, we will talk about the process of obtaining a divorce in North Carolina.  Like all of blogs, this is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice and counsel of a divorce attorney or a family law attorney.

**Please note: All of the information in this blog refers to and references an absolute divorce, not a divorce from bed and board.

Requirements of obtaining a divorce

The parties to a marriage cannot simply wake up one day and decide to get a divorce, no matter how bad their relationship has become.  In North Carolina, there are only two legal reasons that would merit a divorce decree:

  1. Incurable insanity
  2. Separation for more than one year

One of those two circumstances must be alleged and proven in order to obtain a divorce decree.

What you must file

Filing for divorce is similar to starting any other family law action in that you start by filing a complaint at the appropriate courthouse. Some of the things that people have to look at when they are attempting to do this themselves included but are not limited to the following:

  • The court where the complaint is filed must have the proper jurisdiction to rule on the case
  • The plaintiff must have proof that the defendant has been properly served
  • The plaintiff must file an affidavit that complies with the service member’s relief act before the divorce can be granted
  • If the divorce is being sought through the legal theory of one year of separation, the plaintiff must be sure to only file the compliant after the parties have been separated for at least one year and one day

What is next after I file

After you file a complaint, the defendant has some time in which to file an answer. One of the things that they can allege in the answer that might slow things down is that the two of you have not been separated for at least a year and a day.

If the defendant does not file and answer, the next step is to required a divorce decree by means of summary judgement.

Common divorce myths

Many people get a lot of their legal “knowledge” from television.  Some of things that you may have seen on television that doesn’t apply in real life in North Carolina are as follows:

  • “He refuses to sign the divorce papers”…That’s not a real thing in North Carolina. As long as the parties have been separated for more than a year and at least ONE of the parties intends to remain apart from the other, the divorce will be granted.
  • It really doesn’t matter who files first.  In the end, it will have the same outcome.
  • Divorce by itself does not address issues of Equitable distribution, alimony, child support, and child custody. Those actions have to be affirmatively started. We talk more about this in our blog discussing contested divorces.

If you are in need of a divorce attorney, contact us.  We handle divorces in every county in North Carolina.

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