How to Obtain a Divorce in North Carolina
The divorce process can be complex and emotional. Many personal and financial considerations must be taken into account before a divorce can be finalized. In North Carolina, you can get a no-fault divorce if you have been separated from your spouse for at least one year. That means you have not lived together in the same home for that time. As long as you are eligible to divorce, you can obtain a no-fault divorce, even if your spouse does not agree to it.
You must file your divorce petition in the district court in the county where you or your spouse reside. Either you or your spouse must have resided in the state of North Carolina for a minimum of six months before filing for divorce.
Steps to Getting Divorced in North Carolina
To file for an absolute divorce in North Carolina, you will need to follow these steps:
- Separation — You must live separately from your spouse for at least one year.
- Complete and submit a divorce complaint — You must fill out the required court forms and submit them to the Clerk of Court. Paperwork includes the Complaint for Absolute Divorce, Civil Summons, Domestic Civil Action Cover Sheet, and the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act Affidavit. You will also need to pay a fee.
- Serve the complaint — After submitting the complaint, your spouse must be formally notified of the complaint. You are not permitted to serve the documents yourself. Your local sheriff’s department can serve the complaint or someone 18 years of age or older and not involved in your case. You could also mail the documents via certified mail.
- Waiting period — Once the complaint has been served, you must wait 30 days for an initial hearing.
- Request the hearing — After 30 days have passed, a hearing will be scheduled.
You will benefit from having the help of an experienced family law attorney to guide you through the filing process and represent you in court and in dealings with your spouse’s lawyer.
If you plan to pursue alimony or child support, your attorney can help you identify and gather the financial documents and other evidence needed to support your request for spousal support or child support.
How Long Does a Divorce Take in North Carolina?
Many factors contribute to the length of a divorce case. You and your spouse must live in separate households for 12 months with the intent to be permanently apart before you are eligible for an absolute divorce in North Carolina.
If a divorce is contested or a couple cannot agree on significant issues such as child support, alimony, and property division, the divorce may take much longer.
How Much Does a Divorce Cost in North Carolina?
There is no set cost for obtaining a divorce in North Carolina, but many variables may affect the final amount that you’ll pay. In North Carolina, the filing fee for a divorce is $225, though this fee can be waived in certain circumstances.
There is an additional $10 fee for filing a Resumption of Maiden Name. However, that fee could be waived for indigent filers if approached through a Petition to Proceed as an Indigent. You may need to pay $30 to have a sheriff’s office serve the complaint to your spouse.
In addition to court fees, you will pay legal fees to the attorney who handles your divorce. While many people worry about the cost of hiring a lawyer, the cost of representing yourself in a divorce can be much more costly in the long run as a result of unintended consequences. An attorney can help you consider the financial consequences of the decisions you need to make as part of the divorce and the equitable distribution of marital assets.
Marital disputes can be time-consuming, and the longer they get drawn out, the more money you will spend. A seasoned divorce attorney can help you resolve disputes in mediation so that you don’t have to spend precious time and money litigating the issues in court.