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North Carolina Divorce Frequently Asked Questions

Divorce in North Carolina can be obtained by either party of a marriage if separated continuously for at least one year and at least one of the parties has lived in North Carolina for the last 6 months. Within this twelve-month duration, you must not have resumed your marital relationship. In North Carolina, it is not enough that the spouses sleep in separate beds and refrain from sexual contact. If you live within the same home, you’re not considered separate. Here are some questions that many divorcing couples in North Carolina often ask.

Do I need to show a written document that contains the date of the start of separation?

No. Neither party seeking a divorce is required to show any written document that the separation commenced on a specific date. You just have to remember the date on which you actually separated, and that at least one of you intended that the separation be permanent at the time of the separation.

Am I required to go to court to get a divorce?

Yes. While you may settle issues such as child custody, child support, alimony, and equitable distribution by way of mediation before your divorce is granted, you still have to request that the court grant your divorce. Mediation is also required in North Carolina for equitable distribution and child custody matters.

What is the process of filing for divorce in North Carolina?

The divorce process in North Carolina is separate from issues of child custody, child support, alimony, and equitable property distribution. Either you or your divorce lawyer needs to file the divorce complaint with the office of the court clerk. The complaint is served to your spouse either through the office of the sheriff or through certified mail. You or your attorney will then appear in court after a specified waiting period and your divorce will be granted.

You may get your divorce decree prior to getting other marital issues such as child support, equitable distribution, alimony and child custody, but you’ll lose your right to alimony and equitable distribution if you don’t reserve the claims prior to having your divorce granted. Once a divorce judgment is made, no more claims may be brought for alimony and equitable distribution. However, a divorce decree can’t affect child support and child custody issues because both parents have the right to child-related matters regardless of their current status.

Should You Consider Hiring a Divorce Lawyer?

There’s a lot that divorcing couples need to know about the North Carolina divorce process. North Carolina divorce laws are quite complex and most couples facing divorce forget to deal with (or simply are not aware of) certain issues and that can have a long-term effect on their lives. Even what seems like the simplest situation can oftentimes be confusing to an individual, especially when they are under the emotional stress of a divorce. For this reason, it is almost always the prudent choice to seek a consultation with an experienced North Carolina divorce attorney who is well-versed in the intricacies of North Carolina divorce laws.


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In North Carolina either party may petition for alimony, but the court shall exercise its discretion in determining the amount, duration, and the manner of payment, and shall consider all relevant factors, including the marital misconduct of either of the spouses. The duration of the award may be either for a specified or for an indefinite term.
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