Divorce, as distinguished from child custody, child support, alimony, and property distribution, is not a complex process in North Carolina. It is merely the judicial proclamation that ends your marriage. The complexity of a domestic case arises in deciding these other issues, which are resolved either through negotiation or through a court process.
The most common basis for divorce in North Carolina is a one-year separation. You must assert, under oath, that you and your spouse have been living separate and apart for one year. It is not enough to assert that you have lived in separate bedrooms, or that you have not engaged in acts of sexual intercourse. You must live in separate residences during that year. You do not need to file any papers to document the beginning of your separation; your assertion is sufficient to prove that the year has elapsed.
In order to be entitled to a divorce, you need not show that a marital separation for the statutory period was by mutual agreement or that at the time of separation you had the intent to live separate and apart. Even if you were the spouse who left the marriage, your wife or husband cannot contest the divorce if the year has run and all other technical requirements have been satisfied. Either party may secure an absolute divorce based upon one year’s separation even if he or she has committed a matrimonial offense or has wrongfully caused the separation. The “no fault” divorce statute in North Carolina provides that “marriages may be dissolved and the parties thereto divorced from the bonds of matrimony on the application of either party, if and when the husband and wife have lived separate and apart for one year, and the plaintiff or defendant in the suit for divorce has resided in the State for a period of six months.”
Most North Carolina divorces are obtained after proving a one-year separation. Once you have been separated for one full year, either one of you may file an action for absolute divorce. Neither one of you is required to file for a divorce; but neither one of you can prevent the other party from seeking a divorce. The divorce in North Carolina is typically granted within about 60 days of the date of filing for the divorce. See Civil Lawsuit Steps to find out more about what you will need to provide to an attorney so that they can file a divorce complaint on your behalf. This section will also give you some more details about what will happen once the complaint is filed.