Stallard and Bellof Logo

Practice Areas - Divorce

Grounds for Divorce in North Carolina:
Exploring Legal Options

Stallard and Bellof Logo

Practice Areas


When contemplating divorce in North Carolina, it’s essential to understand the grounds on which it can be sought. This article delves into the various legal options available, providing valuable insights into the process and implications.

In North Carolina, there are two grounds for absolute divorce: incurable insanity and separation of one year.

Incurable Insanity: When Mental Health Challenges Affect Marriage Dissolution

To obtain an absolute divorce based on incurable insanity in North Carolina, the couple must live separately for three years due to the incurable insanity of one spouse. The spouse seeking the divorce must provide substantial evidence, including expert testimony from physicians or a legal determination of insanity, to establish the incurable insanity of the other spouse.

One Year of Separation: Navigating the Path to Divorce in North Carolina

The most commonly used basis for absolute divorce in North Carolina is the separation of one year. According to North Carolina General Statute § 50-6, the parties must live separately and apart for one year, with at least one of them residing in North Carolina for the preceding six months. It is necessary to have a physical separation, along with the intention of at least one spouse to cease living together as a married couple. Merely occupying separate rooms or areas within the same house is not sufficient.

To obtain a divorce based on a one-year separation, you must have lived apart for a full year, and at least one spouse must have had the intent to remain separated. It is important to note that filing for “legal separation” is not required to initiate the one-year separation period.

Understanding Absolute Divorce: Terminating Marital Bonds and Moving Forward

Absolute divorce is the legal process that dissolves the bonds of marriage between two individuals. Once a judgment of absolute divorce is entered, all rights stemming from the marriage, such as inheritance and property rights, come to an end, allowing both parties to marry someone else.

It’s crucial to understand that a claim for absolute divorce does not address matters concerning marital property, spousal support, child custody, and child support. To safeguard your interests, it is vital to address and resolve these claims before the divorce is finalized; otherwise, they may be forfeited permanently.

Divorce Process in North Carolina: Filing, Documentation, and Court Proceedings

The divorce process in North Carolina involves several key steps, including filing, documentation, and court proceedings:

Filing: To initiate the divorce process, one spouse (the petitioner) must file a divorce complaint with the appropriate court in North Carolina. The complaint outlines the grounds for divorce and any additional claims, such as child custody or property division.

Documentation: Both spouses are required to provide the necessary documentation, including financial disclosures, marriage certificates, and any relevant agreements or contracts. These documents play a crucial role in the divorce proceedings and help ensure a fair resolution.

Court Proceedings: Once the divorce complaint is filed, the court sets a date for a hearing or trial. During this stage, both parties present their arguments and evidence, and the court makes decisions on various matters, such as child custody, spousal support, and property division.

It’s important to note that the divorce process can vary depending on the complexity of the case and the willingness of the parties to reach a settlement. Consulting with an experienced divorce attorney can provide guidance and support throughout the process.

Legal Requirements: Residency, Separation, and Intent in North Carolina Divorce

In North Carolina, there are specific legal requirements that must be met for a divorce to be granted. These requirements pertain to:

Residency: To file for divorce in North Carolina, at least one of the spouses must have resided in the state for a minimum period of six months prior to initiating the divorce proceedings. Establishing residency is a crucial requirement to ensure the jurisdiction of the North Carolina courts.

Separation: North Carolina recognizes the ground for divorce based on separation of one year. This requires that the spouses live separately and apart for a continuous period of one year. Living in separate residences is essential, as merely occupying separate rooms or areas within the same house will not satisfy the requirement.

Intent: Along with physical separation, there must also be an intention on the part of at least one spouse to cease matrimonial cohabitation. This means that one or both parties must have the clear intention to live separate lives and no longer engage in the activities of a married couple.

Property Division in Divorce: Equitable Distribution Laws in North Carolina

Dividing marital property can be a complex and emotionally charged aspect of divorce.  In a divorce in North Carolina, property division is an important aspect governed by equitable distribution laws:

Equitable Distribution: North Carolina follows the principle of equitable distribution when dividing marital property during a divorce. Equitable distribution means that the court aims to divide the property in a fair and just manner, taking into consideration various factors, rather than simply splitting it equally.

Marital Property: Marital property includes assets and debts acquired by either spouse during the course of the marriage. This can include the family home, vehicles, financial accounts, investments, personal belongings, and even debts such as mortgages or credit card balances.

Separate Property: Separate property refers to assets or debts that are owned by one spouse individually and were acquired before the marriage, through inheritance or gift, or after the date of separation. Separate property is generally not subject to division and remains with the owning spouse.

Child Custody and Support: Ensuring the Best Interests of the Children

When children are involved in a divorce, their well-being takes precedence. Child custody and support in North Carolina prioritize the best interests of the children involved. The court considers factors like the child’s well-being, relationships with parents, and stability of the home environment when determining custody.

Child support is based on guidelines that take into account parental income and the child’s needs, and arrangements can be modified if circumstances change.

Spousal Support: Alimony Considerations in North Carolina Divorce

Spousal support, also known as alimony, is a consideration in divorce cases in North Carolina. It involves one spouse providing financial support to the other spouse, either temporarily or on a long-term basis. Factors such as the duration of the marriage, the financial needs of the dependent spouse, and the ability of the supporting spouse to pay are taken into account when determining spousal support.

Mediation and Collaborative Divorce: Alternative Approaches to Resolving Disputes

Seeking alternatives to traditional litigation? Mediation and collaborative divorce are alternative approaches to resolving disputes in the divorce process. Mediation involves a neutral third party who helps facilitate communication and negotiation between the divorcing spouses to reach a mutually agreed-upon settlement.

Collaborative divorce is a process where both parties and their respective attorneys work together in a cooperative manner to find a resolution without going to court. These approaches emphasize open communication, problem-solving, and reaching a mutually satisfactory outcome outside of traditional litigation.

Empower yourself during this challenging time of divorce in North Carolina. Reach out to our compassionate team today to receive the guidance, support, and legal expertise you deserve. Together, we will navigate the process, protect your rights, and pave the way for a brighter future.

Scroll to Top
Call Now Button