How to File for Divorce in North Carolina
Before filing for divorce, it is good to look at the divorce procedures available in your state. North Carolina's divorce laws are slightly different than most states, particularly in terms of eligibility, so it is important to know who can file for divorce in North Carolina. This guide will give you step-by-step instructions so that you know how the filing process works.
1. Verify Your Eligibility
In order to file for divorce in North Carolina, you will need to meet both a residency requirement and a separation requirement. Either you or your spouse will need to have resided in the state for at least 6 months, and you will should have lived separate and apart from your spouse for at least 1 year. Living in separate bedrooms in the same house does not count if you file for divorce in North Carolina—your separation must be in different residences.
You can file for divorce in either the county where you live or where your spouse lives.
2. Fill Out Divorce Forms
Before you can file for divorce in North Carolina, you will need to complete divorce forms. These forms can generally be obtained for free at the courthouse where you intend to file the divorce. You will need to answer some demographic and personal questions about you, your spouse, the date and location of your wedding, and your children.
You will also need to specify the grounds for your divorce. Divorce in North Carolina is almost always based on the no-fault ground of separation for a year (the only fault grounds that can be alleged are insanity or mental illness). You will then ask the court for specific relief measures when you file for divorce in North Carolina. Relief can take many forms, including child support, alimony, custody, or a fair division of property in the divorce.
3. File the Forms
After you have filled out the forms, you can file for divorce in North Carolina. You will need to take the forms to the courthouse in the county where you live or where your spouse lives, and give the forms to the clerk of the court. You will need to pay a filing fee, but there are fee waivers available for spouses who cannot afford the normal filing fees to file for divorce in North Carolina. The clerk will stamp, date, and file your divorce papers and give you more information about the next steps in the divorce process.
4. Serve Your Spouse
After you file for divorce in North Carolina, you will have to notify your spouse officially that divorce proceedings are beginning. This is typically done either by sending certified mail to your spouse or by paying the sheriff's office or a private process server to give your spouse the paperwork at his or her workplace or home.
Your spouse will be notified of his or her right to respond to the divorce petition, and you will need to wait for the response. If a response is not received in time, you will be entitled to a divorce by default, which usually means you will get whatever you asked for in the initial petition.