Divorce in NC
North Carolina is a "no fault" divorce state, meaning you do not have to prove any marital misconduct by your spouse to file for divorce. No attorney is required to file for divorce in NC. One benefit of hiring an attorney is that a simple uncontested divorce can often be accomplished without either party having to attend court.
In most uncontested divorce cases there is no live testimony, instead the Judge rules based on the pleadings signed under oath by the Plaintiff. It is important to recognize that actions for property distribution or spousal support must be filed before divorce is finalized or else those claims are generally waived.
Divorce requirements in NC
- At least one of the parties has lived in North Carolina for a least six months.
- The parties have been separated for a least one year with one or both parties intending to end the marriage.
- The parties are legally married.
Divorce filing fees in NC
The filing fee for divorce in North Carolina is $225. There is also a $10 additional fee if you want to resume your maiden name. If you want to use the Sheriff for service as opposed to certified mail there is a $30 fee. Finally, there is a $20 fee to file a notice of hearing. If you are unable to afford the filing fee you may be able to request a fee waiver to sue as an indigent.
What counts as separation in NC?
It is important to keep in mind that divorce requires a full year of the parties living separate and apart. Sleeping in different bedrooms under the same roof does not count as separation. The one year wait period officially begins when the parties are no longer living with the intent to remain separated. No separation agreement is required and nothing has to be filed at the courthouse to start the clock on when separation starts.
Grounds for annulment in NC
- Bigamy- one party already married.
- Incest- marriage to relative closer than 1st cousin.
- Incompetence at time of marriage.
- Underage- being under 16.
- Fraud. (rarely granted)
- Duress. (rarely granted)
There is no way to legally speed up the actual divorce unless one party is eligible to file in another state that does not require a full year of separation. Although clients tend to concentrate on the actual divorce decree, the most difficult part of the typical case revolves around the division of marital assets, child custody, and support issues. As stated above, there is no requirement to wait until divorce to file other claims. In fact, property division and spousal support actions must usually be filed before divorce is granted.