North Carolina North Carolina

Divorce Law Guide

North Carolina Divorce Overview

Residency Requirement
Living Separate & Apart
Processing Time
Filing Fee
6 months
12 months
360 days

The facts about divorce in North Carolina

Divorce, or dissolution of marriage, is the legal process of severing a marriage contract, which is overseen by a court of law in the state in which one or both of the divorcing spouses live. The process for getting a divorce and acceptible grounds for divorce vary from state to state.

In North Carolina, a divorce can be completed on average in a minimum of 360 days, with court fees of $225.00. The state has divorce residency requirements that require the spouse filing for the divorce to have lived in North Carolina for a minimum of six months.

On this page, you can learn about North Carolina's grounds for divorce, how the divorce process works, and about other parts of the divorce process, such as North Carolina alimony calculation, the property division process and more.

North Carolina Divorce Law Summary

What are the Grounds for Divorce?

In North Caroina a couple seeking a divorce can choose either no-fault grounds or can choose the option of filing on traditional fault grounds.

Grounds for divorce include:

  • adultery

  • alienation

  • cruelty/violence

  • desertion

  • drug/alcohol addiction

  • incurable insanity

One of the parties seeking a divorce must have resided in the State for a period of six months prior to filing. The parties must have also been seperated for 1 year before a divorce will be granted. The divorce may be filed in the either county in which the parties reside.

North Carolina Divorce Guide - Frequently Asked Questions

In state of North Carolina a number of factors are taken into account when ending a marriage.

1. North Carolina Grounds for Divorce FAQ

Is North Carolina a no-fault divorce state?

North Carolina allows no-fault divorces, which means that a divorce is granted without establishing the fault of either spouse for causing the divorce. Grounds for a no-fault divorce in North Carolina may be "irreconcilable differences", or similar grounds.

Does North Carolina allow at-fault divorces?

In addition to no-fault grounds for divorce, North Carolina is a fault divorce state which provides the option to file for a traditional at-fault divorce. Suing for an at-fault divorce alleges that the filer's spouse is the cause of the divorce due to engaging in one of North Carolina's at-fault divorce grounds, such as adultery, abuse, or insanity.

In some cases, an at-fault divorce is pursued because it can entitle the suing spouse to a greater share of marital property or even punitive alimony payments if their partner's fault is proven. If their spouse contests these allegations, they may be challenged in court, which can lead to a lengthy and expensive legal process.

Does the state of North Carolina allow incompatibility as grounds for divorce?

The state of North Carolina does not allow incompatibility to be reason alone for having a divorce.

Can you get a divorce in North Carolina for living separate and apart?

In divorce law, "living seperate and apart" refers to married spouses who are living separate from each other, not engaging in a traditional marital relationship, and do not intend to repair the marriage.

In North Carolina, married couples who have been living separate and apart for a minimum of twelve months may be granted a divorce on these grounds when sued for by either spouse.

2. North Carolina Divorce Process FAQ

Does state of North Carolina allow legal separation?

Legal separation (otherwise known as "judicial separation") is a legal process that enables spouses to be de facto separated while remaining legally married.

In some cases, North Carolina will grant a judicial separation court order to a married couple who wishes to live separately. This order may settle issues generally handled in a divorce such as property division and alimony. A legal separation may be followed up by a full divorce, or the spouses may later reconcile and end the separation while remaining legally married.

What's the difference between a divorce and an annulment in North Carolina?

While a divorce is the process of exiting a legally valid marriage, an annulment is the process of rendering a marriage null and void. An annulment makes it legally as if a marriage never took place to begin with.

Generally, annulment is used to conclude a marriage that should not have been legally recognized in the first place, such as a marriage where one of the spouses was unable to consent (by virtue of being underage, due to mental incapacity, or even intoxication), a marriage that was entered into under duress or via fraudulent means, or when one of the spouses was already legally married.

How long do I have to live in in the state of North Carolina to get a divorce?

The state of North Carolina requires that spouses suing for divorce to have lived in the state for a minimum of six months prior to filing divorce papers. Otherwise, North Carolina courts are not considered to have jurisdiction over the divorce case.

What is the filing fee for a divorce in North Carolina?

The court fees for filing the paperwork for a basic divorce in a North Carolina court is $225.00. However, the total costs for a divorce can be much higher - especially in the case of a contested divorce, where attorney fees and mediation costs average from $15,000 to $20,000 or more.

How long does it take to get a divorce in North Carolina?

If the process moves along without holdups, the paperwork for a divorce in North Carolina can be processed in a minimum of 360 days. However, if the spouses are not in agreement about the divorce process, a contested divorce can take significantly longer.

3. North Carolina General Divorce FAQ

Can my spouse stop me from getting a divorce?

Even if one spouse is opposed to getting a divorce, they cannot stop their partner from filing for and receiving a divorce in North Carolina. While filing a non-contested joint petition for divorce speeds up the process, either spouse can file for divorce individually at any time.

North Carolina permits spouses to sue for an at-fault divorce, and in this case their partner can contest the allegations in court. A non-fault petition for divorce, however, can generally not be contested by an unwilling spouse in North Carolina.

Does North Carolina have any limitations on remarriage after a divorce?

North Carolina has no mandatory waiting period between the finalization of a divorce and either of the ex-spouses getting remarried. Remarriage following a divorce may affect the continued payment of alimony.

What is the divorce rate in North Carolina?

According to the most recent CDC study, the yearly divorce rate in North Carolina is 10 per 1,000 total population. The national divorce rate is 6.9 per 1,000 total population. Various studies suggest that nationwide, 30% to 50% of all marriages end in divorce.

Does North Carolina recognize same sex divorces?

Since same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide in 2015, all states that previously did not allow same sex marriages, including North Carolina, are required by federal law to perform both same sex marriages and same sex divorces. In some cases, court forms or procedures may still need to be updated to support same sex couples.

| State Law Official Text

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