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North Carolina Divorce Laws and Requirements in 2021

Laws, Requirements, and Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Filing for Divorce in North Carolina in 2021

Ending a marriage in divorce is always a difficult process.

In the beginning, you probably saw yourself spending the rest of your life with your spouse, but unfortunately, things change and divorce is the only solution.

If you live in the State of North Carolina and are planning or even considering filing for divorce, we recommend your read this guide to understand how the State’s laws and requirements for filing for divorce.

Understanding the process of divorce is the first step to filing.

While many states have similar divorce laws, there may be a small or newly added requirement that makes a significant difference on your individual divorce.

Below are some of the most important divorce laws in North Carolina that pertain to most divorce cases.

With that said, there are still others and there could also be new laws that go into effect after the time of writing this article.

We do our best to update this post with new divorce laws and requirements as soon as they are announced, but we still suggest speaking with a North Carolina divorce lawyer to answer any questions you may have about your case.

Related: Average divorce costs in the United States

Requirements for Divorce in North Carolina

How long must I have lived in NC to file for divorce here?

First and foremost, to file for divorce in NC, you or your spouse are required to have lived as a resident in the state for at least six months prior to filing.

Are my spouse and I required to live separately before filing for divorce?

One of the more unique and most important requirements for completing a divorce in North Carolina is that you and your spouse must live separately for a year prior to the divorce.

It is also important to note that the 12 months must be uninterrupted. In other words, you must live separately for 12 months straight. If at any point you and your spouse move into again – no matter what the reason – you will have to restart the 12 month period.

What are the grounds for divorce in North Carolina?

North Carolina is known as a “hybrid fault divorce state” which means that at-fault divorce requirements such as infidelity, abuse, or other common factors are not required to file for divorce, however, determining fault can play a role in some cases outlined in the next section.

Before discussing those matters, we wanted to clarify the grounds for divorce in North Carolina. Put simply, you are not required to provide any sort of reasoning for your divorce in North Carolina. All you must say is your marriage is beyond repair and divorce is the only remaining option.

When can I file for divorce in NC?

Once you and your spouse have lived separately for 12 months, you are free to file for divorce in North Carolina.

To file for divorce either you, your spouse, or one of your attorneys must file the divorce in the county where they reside.

The next step is to have the filing complaint served to your spouse which is typically carried about by the sheriff’s office.

Am I allowed to file for an Absolute Divorce in North Carolina?

Absolute divorces are the most common type of divorce in NC.

The only requirement for an absolute divorce in North Carolina is that you and your spouse live separately for one year.

After that time, you are free to finalize your divorce and dissolve the “contract” you entered in upon marriage.

Related: Uncontested vs Contested Divorces in North Carolina

What is divorce from bed and board?

The other, less common type of divorce in NC is “Divorce from Bed and Board”.

Divorce from Bed and Board can be confusing since North Carolina does not require an individual to be at fault to file for divorce.

Put simply, Divorce from Bed and Board is a court-ordered separation for which one party must first file.

In many ways, it is North Carolina’s version of “legal separation”, and most times, a spouse will file for a Divorce from Bed and Board their spouse refuses to agree to the divorce/separation.

Other times, DBB is used when he or she wants to pass fault to their spouse in order to remove them from their home, file for alimony, or any of the other factors seen in a contested divorce.

Divorce from bed and board does not absolve the marital contract.

What are the grounds for divorce from bed and board in North Carolina?

North Carolina’s General Statute §50-7 states that the grounds for divorce from bed and board are:

  • If he or she abandons/neglects their family
  • If he or she forces the other to leave their home/residence
  • If he or she creates an intolerable environment through humiliation, verbal abuse, or physical abuse
  • If he or she excessively abuses alcohol or drugs creating an intolerable or burdensome environment
  • If he or she commits adultery

In the end, the court will have the final say in whether or not a divorce from bed and board is granted.

How is property divided during the divorce?

North Carolina is an equitable distribution state meaning any assets or debts acquired during the marriage will be divided equally upon divorce.

A property divorce lawyer can help you negotiate aspects of your distribution during the divorce process.

Any assets or debts acquired by either party before the marriage will become his or her sole possession.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Child Custody Laws in North Carolina

Speak with a Charlotte divorce attorney today

If you have any questions regarding North Carolina’s divorce laws or wish to start your divorce filing process, we urge you to contact one of our Charlotte-based divorce lawyers to get started.

Our Charlotte family law attorneys will help answer your questions and guide you through this difficult time.