What If I Don’t Want a Divorce?

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

The end of a marriage is a sad, and often stunning, change in people’s life circumstances. Their hopes, their expectations, and their sense of normal are thrown into flux. Sometimes, one spouse wants a divorce while the other doesn’t. Whether this is based on hope, personal beliefs, denial, anger, or some other reason, it presents a big dilemma for both spouses. Therefore, a key question in this situation is: What if I don’t want a divorce?

North Carolina Is a No Fault State

North Carolina is an absolute divorce state. This is a no-fault divorce that a spouse can seek after a married couple has been separated for a period of at least a year. In other words, if two spouses have lived separate and apart for a year, then either spouse can obtain a divorce. The court does not look at the reasons for the divorce or the desires of either spouse—instead that may be reserved for equitable distribution, alimony, or child custody proceedings. The only real requirements are as follows:

Personal Service

The spouse who wants the divorce must obtain service on you. A court must have personal jurisdiction over you to enter orders that affect your legal rights, and it can obtain this jurisdiction when you are properly notified of the legal proceedings. Does this mean you can dodge an unwanted divorce by avoiding personal service? Unfortunately, no. There are alternative methods of service for people whose location is unknown despite a diligent effort to serve them. This includes substitute service or even service by publication in a newspaper.

Six Month Residency

You or your spouse must have lived in North Carolina for at least six months prior to the filing of the absolute divorce lawsuit to become legally divorced in North Carolina. There is a residency requirement for a court to exercise jurisdiction over the divorce and spouses.

One Year Separation

The spouse seeking the divorce must prove that you have been separated for a year. It is possible to challenge the date of separation by showing that you were not living in separate residences for the year or that there was a reconciliation during that year and the circumstances show you reunited as a married couple. However, if your spouse is able to demonstrate the year-long separation, then the court is obligated to grant the divorce.

New Direction Family Law

New Direction Family Law provides legal guidance and representation to people experiencing a separation, divorce, property division, alimony, child custody, or child support issue. For years, our attorneys have assisted men and women to navigate this turbulent and legally complex period in their lives. We are professional, intelligent, and responsive to our clients’ needs. Our team provides representation to clients in Wake, Johnston, Durham and surrounding counties. Contact New Direction Family Law at (919) 719-3470 to schedule a consultation or reach us online through our website.