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Getting a Divorce in North Carolina: The Basics

If you are considering a divorce, you may be wondering where to begin. The laws and procedures for getting divorced depend on the state in which you file. This post outlines some basic divorce laws in the Tar Heel state.

North Carolina Divorce Requirements

To obtain a divorce in North Carolina, one or both of the spouses must have lived in the state for at least six months. The spouses can file for divorce in either county where at least one of them lives.

The spouses must have been separated for at least a year. If a married couple has not lived apart for 12 or more months, one spouse must show grounds for divorce to be granted. This exception is in place to protect victims of spousal abuse that need to obtain a timely divorce for their safety.

There is also a 30-day waiting period for North Carolina divorces. When a non-filing spouse is served with divorce papers, he has 30 days to respond. Alternatively, he can do nothing, and the divorce will be granted as uncontested.

Understanding Fault in a North Carolina Divorce

Most divorces in North Carolina are no-fault divorces. The only requirement for a no-fault divorce is a one-year separation. Alternatively, a spouse can request a divorce be granted based on the other spouse’s bad behavior. The following are grounds for divorce in North Carolina:

  • Abandonment
  • maliciously kicking the other out of the marital home
  • cruel behavior that puts the other spouse in danger
  • “indignities” that make living with the other unbearable
  • excessive, intolerable use of alcohol or drugs
  • adultery

If a divorce is granted on fault grounds, it can become a factor (but not the only factor) when the judge considers disputes over marital property, alimony, and child custody matters.

Distribution of Marital Property

Like the majority of other states, North Carolina is an equitable property state. The marital property of divorcing couples in North Carolina should be divided equitably, which means fairly. In these cases, “equitably” does not always mean “equally.” The state encourages divorcing couples to sort out marital property on their own as much as they can. If the spouses cannot agree on how assets should be divided, the judge will make the final decision.

North Carolina Divorce and Family Law Attorneys

Divorce is never easy, but having the right lawyer by your side can help. The committed and dedicated attorneys at McAllister, Aldridge, and Kreinbrink, PLLC are eager to help you with your divorce and family law issues. Contact our office in High Point, North Carolina to schedule a consultation.


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