The North Carolina Absolute Divorce Process at a Glance

Getting an absolute divorce in North Carolina is a life-changing event.  It’s also a technical process with forms, deadlines, and service requirements that can be challenging to a layperson who is dealing with the court system on their own. It can literally pay to have someone on your side who knows how to navigate the legal process.

In this issue, the divorce and family law attorneys with Weaver, Bennett & Bland will explain the North Carolina divorce process so you can have a better understanding of the road ahead. 

While most of our clients are in Mecklenburg and Union Counties, we’re centrally located to serve clients throughout North Carolina.

What is the North Carolina divorce process?

Keep in mind that divorce is a legal process, and certain requirement must be satisfied before a judge agrees to issue a divorce order. 

That said, here’s the general process for divorce in North Carolina:

  1. Separation is required.
    Regardless of the circumstances of your separation, both parties must live apart for one full year. This literally means that both of you need to be living in separate homes, and one of you intends for the separation to be permanent. That last line is important to remember because you can still obtain a divorce even if your spouse or partner doesn’t want one.

  2. State residency is required.
    Once you meet your one-year separation requirement, you’re in a position to file for divorce. Before doing that, though, one of you will need to have lived in North Carolina for at least six (6) months.

  3. Filing for divorce.
    The official filing for divorce must be done in the Clerk of Court’s office in the county where either of you lives. You must file a Complaint, a Summons, and a Service Member affidavit.

  4. Your spouse or partner is served.
    Once your divorce is filed, your spouse or partner will need to be served with a copy of the complaint. They then have 30 days to file a response to the complaint. If they request a short extension, the court will award an additional 30 days to deliver a response. It’s recommended that you serve the spouse via certified mail return receipt requested (at home only) or have a Sheriff’s deputy serve your spouse with the divorce complaint. Afterward, it’s up to you to obtain the date the papers were served. 

  5. Filing a motion. 
    Thirty-one (31) days after your spouse is served (sixty-one if he or she obtains an extension of time), you may file a motion for Summary Judgment as long as the spouse has not contested the date of separation by alleging you were not separated a year as of the filing date.

  6. Setting a hearing on your motion. 
    Your summary judgment motion will include a “hearing” week, three to five weeks after the date of filing your motion, during which time the assigned judge will review all divorce files for that week; determine if all the requirements are met in your case and sign the proposed Divorce Judgment that was given at the time of filing the motion. 

If an absolute divorce is in your future call the North Carolina family law attorneys with Weaver, Bennett & Bland.

The above information should give you a level of confidence in knowing what to expect in your absolute divorce.

While many people successfully handle their own divorces, there are many pitfalls along the way that solid legal advice can avoid. Get in touch with Weaver, Bennett & Bland by calling 704.844.1400, sending an email, or completing our online form