How to Navigate the NC Divorce Process


A divorce is often a complicated process including family, property, and financial issues. North Carolina is considered a no-fault divorce state meaning proof of wrongdoing by either party is not needed to get a divorce. If you considering divorce, here are the steps in the NC divorce process.

Physical Separation

The first step in dissolving the marriage is a physical separation of the couple. This requires that the spouses not live together under the same roof for a period of 12 consecutive months. If the spouses move back in together anytime during the separation, the clock resets and the 12 months starts when they separate again. In addition to the separation, the spouse filing for divorce must have lived in North Carolina for at least six months. The physical separation itself is not a legal separation. In order to make it legal, one of the spouses would need to obtain a divorce from bed and board.

The advantage of a divorce from bed and board is that a spouse may obtain orders for child custody and support, alimony and asset division. Certain grounds such as infidelity, abuse, abandonment, drug abuse, or other behaviors detrimental to the marriage can be used in granting a divorce from bed and board as well as in determining subsequent orders.

File a Complaint

After the 12 month separation, either spouse may file for a legal divorce. Before you can sue your spouse for divorce, you must file a complaint in your County Clerk of Court’s office. The complaint must specify who is seeking the divorce, provide evidence of certain facts and request the court to grant the dissolution of the marriage. The divorce complaint must be signed and notarized before it’s filed in the clerk’s office. The county Sheriff or a deputy serves the divorce complaint on the other spouse. In most cases, a divorce notice is delivered by certified mail. If you are unsuccessful in having your complaint served, you will need to publish a notice in the local newspaper of record and complete an “Affidavit of Service by Publication.”

Consider Mediation

If the divorce is amicable, you may want to consider mediation. Instead of a long and expensive court case, a mediator provides a less formal and antagonistic setting in which to reach an agreement. Sometimes the court will order mediation, but it will allow you both to come to a confidential agreement that is time and cost efficient. This agreement can be enforced in any court once it is signed and notarized. Agreements regarding child custody and support may be modified by the court in divorce proceedings, if it is in the best interest of the child.

Court Cases with the NC Divorce Process

The judge will hear testimony and then decide the final divorce orders that he or she thinks are best for each person. It’s best to come to an agreement on issues before appearing in court. Although the judge will take recommendations from each spouse’s attorney, the decision of the judge is final. Once the judge signs the order, you and your spouse are divorced and are legally able to remarry, if and when you so choose. The judgment granting the divorce then needs to be filed at the county clerk’s office.

When navigating the NC divorce process it is important to know the steps you need to follow. Emblem Legal will provide the legal guidance and support you need during this difficult time. We have the knowledge and experience in family law and child custody to protect your best interests. Contact us the North Carolina law form that nows best today for a consultation.