NORTH CAROLINA DIVORCE LAW
If you are granted a divorce or “dissolution of marriage” in North Carolina, you and your ex-spouse will no longer be legally married. You and your ex-spouse are considered single and are able to re-marry if desired. When contemplating a divorce in North Carolina you should consider issues such as grounds for divorce, residency requirements, annulment, and property division. You should seek the advice of a licensed North Carolina divorce attorney.
North Carolina does not have a formal “legal separation” procedure, but does require spouses to live separate and apart for one year before a marriage may be dissolved. During this time apart the parties may voluntarily execute a “separation agreement” to address issues such as child custody, child support, property division, and alimony until they are granted a divorce. It is best to work with a North Carolina divorce attorney in this situation.
Grounds For Divorce
When filing for a divorce you must state your reason for wanting a divorce, also known as “grounds for divorce.” North Carolina has both fault grounds and no-fault grounds for divorce. Your grounds (or reasons) for wanting a divorce are set out in a document called a Complaint for Divorce that you file with your local General Court of Justice.
No-Fault Grounds: A spouse filing for divorce on no-fault grounds does not have to prove the fault of the other spouse in order to obtain the divorce. If the parties have lived separate and apart for one year or more, a no-fault based divorce may be granted.
Fault Grounds: When a spouse files for a divorce on fault grounds, the spouse is stating the reason for the divorce is the other spouse’s fault. Fault grounds for divorce in North Carolina are: (1) abandonment; (3) malicious turning out of doors; (4) cruelty; (5) intolerable indignities; (6) intolerable use of alcohol or drugs; and (7) adultery.
In some cases, after separation of three years, a divorce may be granted on the grounds of incurable insanity. It is important to discuss any grounds for marriage with a North Carolina divorce attorney.
Divorce Residency Requirements
To properly file for divorce in North Carolina, one of the parties to the marriage must have been a resident of the state for six months preceding the filing. You will file your paperwork in the General Court of Justice in the county of residence. The District Clerk's Office will be managing your paperwork with the court.
An annulment is when a court, rather than ending a marriage via divorce, in certain situations declares that the marriage was never valid to begin with. A marriage can be annulled if there was some reason why it could not be legally entered into such as bigamy, force, or one party was underage. Annulments in North Carolina uncommon and should be discussed with a North Carolina divorce attorney.
Equitable Division of Marital Property
The North Carolina court shall determine what is marital property and shall provide for an “equitable distribution” of the marital property between the parties in accordance with the provisions of North Carolina statutes. The idea of equitable distribution is that each spouse is entitled to an equitable (not necessarily equal / 50-50) share of all “marital property,” not “separate property,” acquired during the marriage.
“Marital Property:” all real and personal property acquired by either spouse or both spouses during the course of the marriage and before the date of the separation of the parties, and presently owned, except property determined to be separate property or divisible property. Marital property includes all vested and non-vested pension, retirement, and other deferred compensation rights. It is presumed that all property acquired after the date of marriage and before the date of separation is marital property except property which is separate property.
“Separate property:” all real and personal property acquired by a spouse before marriage or acquired by a spouse by bequest, devise, descent, or gift during the course of the marriage. The increase in value of separate property and the income derived from separate property shall be considered separate property. All professional licenses and business licenses, which would terminate on transfer, shall be considered separate property in North Carolina.
Equitable division is determined by looking at a variety of factors and should be discussed with a licensed North Carolina divorce attorney.
Links to Divorce Statutes