Navigating Divorce Across State Lines

If you or your spouse do not live in North Carolina, you might worry about getting a divorce here. Fortunately, North Carolina divorce law does not require that both spouses live in the state in order to file for divorce. Either you or your spouse must meet a few simple residency requirements, and the person filing for divorce must serve papers on the other spouse.

North Carolina Divorce Across State Lines

Couples who consider divorce often move away from each other. Sometimes, one spouse moves out of state – for a new job, to be closer to family, or for other reasons. When it comes time to file for divorce in North Carolina, you will need to make sure that you or your spouse meets the state’s residency requirement.

The residency requirement says that either spouse (or both) must reside in North Carolina at the time of the divorce filing, and for the six months preceding the divorce filing. The six-month period is counted backwards from the date you or your spouse officially files the divorce papers with the court.

This requirement means that you could move out of state before filing for divorce, as long as your spouse stays in the state. Alternatively, your spouse could move out of state and then you could file for divorce in North Carolina. Regardless of who moves, one spouse must live in North Carolina for the six months before the divorce is filed.

Please note that the residency requirement is different than the separation period requirement. North Carolina law requires separation for at least a year before you can file for divorce. The length of your separation does not affect the residency requirement of six months for one or both spouses. For example, if you separate from your spouse and then move to North Carolina, you must wait until at least one year of separation and six months of residency have passed before filing for divorce here.

Serving Divorce Papers When One Spouse Is Out of State

North Carolina law requires that the person who files for divorce serves the divorce papers on the other spouse. Serving papers means delivering them to a specific person by paying a sheriff to process serve or by using another legally authorized means such as certified mail. Doing so helps ensure that the other spouse has sufficient notice of the legal proceeding.

The laws on serving legal documents vary in different states and local areas. When your spouse is living in another state, you may need to obey the laws in that state (which could be different than in North Carolina). If you do not follow proper process service laws, you will not give your spouse legal notice of the divorce. As a result, it is a good idea to consult a North Carolina lawyer before you file for divorce. The lawyer can help you determine how to serve your spouse properly and help prepare the paperwork that you will need to file.

While divorce across state lines may sound intimidating, North Carolina law only requires a few simple steps to make it happen. If you are considering divorce, seek legal help to ensure you meet all the requirements for residency and process serving.

Let New Direction Family Law Assist You

If you are considering ending your marriage, the team at New Direction Family Law is available today to answer your questions. With decades of combined legal experience, our attorneys are knowledgeable, effective, and compassionate professionals. We will help you understand your legal rights and work hard toward your best outcome. We proudly serve clients in Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. Contact New Direction Family Law at (919) 646-6561 to schedule a consultation, or visit us at our website.

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