Your Separation and Divorce Questions Answered


How long do I have to be separated to get a divorce in North Carolina?


sad man standing aside from woman with baby, divorce

In North Carolina couples have to be separated for at least one year and a one day before they can file a complaint asking the court for an absolute divorce. Separation means that husband and wife live separate and apart in different residences. Merely living in different bedrooms or different areas of a house does not qualify as being separated in the eyes of the law.

My spouse and I just don’t get along. Do I have to allege fault to get a divorce?


A couple can get a divorce without one spouse having to prove the other spouse’s marital fault, such as abusive behavior, drug or alcohol addiction, or adultery. The only requirements are that one spouse is a resident of North Carolina and you and your spouse have been separated for at least one year and one day with the intent for the separation to be permanent.

I got divorced, but we never agreed on how our property would be divided or if he would pay me alimony?


A separation agreement or a distribution of property is not required prior to obtaining an absolute divorce. However, if you don’t assert your rights on matters like equitable distribution of your property or spousal support before your divorce is finalized, you can lose these rights forever.

What is divorce from bed and board?


If your spouse has engaged in unprovoked and un-condoned marital misconduct, making your marriage and your family life intolerable, you may file a claim for a divorce from bed and board. Examples of this kind of marital misconduct include adultery, abandonment, abusive or violent behavior, and substance abuse.

Divorce from bed and board is a legally sanctioned separation based on a claim of misconduct. If you wish to remarry, however, you must still obtain a judgment of absolute divorce.

How do I file divorce papers with the court for my divorce?


To begin the divorce process, you need to file a complaint for absolute divorce with the file Clerk of Court’s office in the county where you live. The person filing the complaint is the “Plaintiff,” and the other spouse is the “Defendant”. Issues such as spousal support, child support, and property division can also be included in a complaint seeking an absolute divorce.

In North Carolina the Defendant typically has 30 days from the date the complaint was served to file an answer. With the Answer, the Defendant may file counterclaims for claims related to child custody, spousal support, child support, and property division.

I don’t want to go to court. What else can we do?


Divorce mediation is a meeting between spouses or partners going through a separation or divorce, with a third party mediator who is trained in conflict resolution. The goal is to find a mutually acceptable agreement on as many of the conflicting issues as possible. So you end up with a written directive outlining the terms of the agreement.

In order for divorce mediation to work, both parties need to be willing to compromise and be serious about reaching agreement on common ground.

The benefits of divorce mediation are that it’s less time consuming and costly than court hearings. It also gives you a say in the terms of your settlement. If you are unable to settle and go to court, a judge will make the decisions for you.

How can our divorce attorneys help you?


At your initial consultation, which is a confidential discussion of your situation, our attorneys will walk you through the divorce process in North Carolina, and help you determine your best course of action.

We serve Wake, Durham, Orange, Johnston, Lee, Harnett, Cumberland, Nash, Granville, Franklin, and surrounding counties.