Divorce Law in North Carolina

A divorce in the State of North Carolina may be obtained in one of two ways: filing for an absolute divorce or a divorce from bed and board. In deciding whether to file for an absolute divorce or a divorce from bed and board, a multitude of factors must be taken into account, which are primarily determined on a case-by-case basis.



Absolute Divorce


Obtaining an absolute divorce in North Carolina may become overwhelming if not done correctly. While North Carolina is a no-fault state, meaning the party applying for the divorce need not prove wrongdoing in order to obtain divorce, it still remains a family state. As a result, the parties must be separated for at least 12 months in order to file for divorce. With that being said, either party may file at any time after being separated for 12 months. Divorce is typically filed in the county where one of the parties has resided for at least 6 months.


One very important thing to keep in mind when filing for divorce is whether you are waiving your other claims such as alimony and equitable distribution. Many people are unaware that failure to assert these or other claims may result in waiving them forever. In order to preserve these claims, the parties must have these claims pending in court or resolved in the form of a separation agreement. A competent family law attorney can help you ensure that your rights under said claims are preserved and adequately represented.


Divorce from Bed and Board


Divorce from bed and board means exactly what it sounds like. Namely, the parties do not technically obtain an absolute divorce, but rather a legal separation. For all intents and purposes, the parties may legally resolve their disputes just like in an absolute divorce; however, the parties cannot remarry.


Next, unlike absolute divorce, divorce from bed and board does not require a 12-month separation. However, divorce from bed and board is a fault-based action. Typically, this action is brought to force the other spouse out of the residence and establish a date of separation. Because this is a fault-based action, only the injured party may file this lawsuit and prove at least one of the six grounds for divorce from bed and board. Some of the grounds include domestic violence, abandonment, and adultery.


After reading this brief summation of divorce law in North Carolina, you may realize its complex nature and a great possibility for making grave errors. As such, the best course of action in a divorce proceeding is to hire competent counsel.