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Know the Laws: North Carolina

UPDATED December 14, 2010

Divorce requirements in NC

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back to topWhat are the residency requirements to file for divorce in North Carolina?

To file for divorce in NC, one spouse must have been living in North Carolina for at least six months* prior to the filing.**  It does not matter if you were married in NC or in another state.

* NCGS § 50-6
** NCGS § 50-8

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back to topWhat are the grounds for divorce in North Carolina?

NC is a “no fault state,” which means that you do not have to prove that either spouse is at fault to get a divorce.

There are only two grounds (reasons) for divorce in NC:

  1. Separation for one year,* or
  2. Incurable insanity of one spouse and separation for three years.**
The majority of marriages are dissolved based on the ground of separation for one year. In order to get divorced under this ground, you must have lived in separate residences for one year and at least one spouse must have had the intent to remain separate and apart. You do not need to file for legal separation.  Legal separation happens once a husband and wife begin living separate and apart (in separate residences).

Note:  NC does provide for a legal separation called “divorce from bed and board,"*** but this is rarely used in NC.  Although it is called “divorce” from bed and board, it is addressed before a divorce and it does not actually dissolve (end) the marriage.  It is a fault-based action, usually brought by an injured spouse to get the court to order the other spouse out of the residence.  You must establish at least one of the following fault grounds: abandonment (where one spouse leaves the marital residence without justification or consent of the other spouse and has no intent to return), malicious turning out of doors (your spouse threw you out), cruel or barbarous treatment (such as domestic violence), indignities (a pattern of behavior that causes it to be intolerable to live with the spouse), excessive use of alcohol or drugs to the point where you cannot tolerate living with your spouse, or adultery (when your spouse “cheats on you”).  For more information on “divorce from bed and board”, please talk to a lawyer who specializes in divorce. Go to Finding a Lawyer.

*NCGS § 50-6
**NCGS § 50-5.1
***NCGS § 50-7

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back to topWhere can I find additional information about divorce?

The following links may provide helpful information:

North Carolina Bar Association
A legal information pamphlet on divorce and separation in NC.

The NC Courts website directs people to the I-CAN! website for divorce forms and a step-by-step guide to help you fill them out.  There is a $25 fee for the forms.  However, the website says it is for people with cases in the 26th Judicial District - if you are not sure if this is your district, you may want to call your local courthouse to ask if the forms on I-Can! can be used in your court.

Legal Aid Society of NC provides a do-it-yourself divorce packet for people who do not want to get a spousal support or divide up assets.

LawHelpNC.org has links to information on annulments, division of property, divorce versus separation, and much more.

WomensLaw.org has no relationship with any of these above organizations and does not endorse their services. We provide these links for your information only.

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