Disclaimer: This information is an overview of the uncontested divorce filing process in North Carolina and of the divorce papers that are typically filed in Family Court. This overview is not intended for those seeking information to file “pro se” or “to do it yourself or represent yourself”. Many cases are unique and this information should not be construed as legal advice. All persons seeking an uncontested divorce or that have been served papers for an uncontested divorce should immediately seek the advice of a licensed North Carolina attorney.
About Absolute Divorce
North Carolina is a No-Fault state and either spouse may seek an uncontested divorce. The party seeking the divorce must live in the state for six months prior to filing for divorce.
Either spouse may petition the court for divorce after he or she has lived separate and apart, with the intention of remaining separate and apart, for a continuous period of one year. There is nothing for the other spouse to dispute except the date of separation.
All uncontested divorces have five steps that include:
- filing court papers that ask for a divorce;
- notification of the defendant spouse that a divorce has been filed;
- scheduling a hearing;
- notification of the spouse of the hearing date; and
- attending the hearing and having a judge sign a judgment granting the divorce.
The defendant is required to be served a copy of the Summons and Complaint. The Summons gives the Defendant 30 days to respond to the Divorce Complaint. Service of process, as this is called, is either by the sheriff in the county of residence of the Defendant or by certified mail. The Affidavit of Service authenticates that the Defendant has been properly served. The sheriff will file a certification of the served summons or the Plaintiff is required to file an Affidavit of Service with the court.
In a uncontested divorce complaint, the document identifies the spouses, their addresses, date and place of marriage, states that they have lived continuously separate and apart with the intention of remaining spate and apart for more than one year, that the Defendant is neither a member of the military nor is incompetent and identifies any children born of the marriage.
A Verification, a sworn and notarized statement which affirms the accuracy of the information in the divorce Complaint, is attached to the Complaint. Because the Complaint is verified, the Court may use the statements made in the Complaint as findings of fact in entering a Judgment for Divorce.
Once served, the Defendant has 30 days to file an Answer to the Complaint as directed on the Summons. While the defendant may assert other claims (post separation support, alimony, child support, child custody and division of property), the defendant cannot prevent the divorce from occurring and the only real issue the defendant can dispute to hold up the divorce is the date of separation.
Once an Answer is filed or after 30 days, even if the Defendant does not respond to the Complaint, the Defendant must be served a Notice of Hearing. The hearing date shall be no less than 10 days from the service of the Notice of Hearing. The Clerk of Court provides the uncontested divorce hearing dates.
When an absolute divorce is granted, you should know that any claim, either yours or your spouses, for equitable distribution (a division of your assets and debts), post-separation support and alimony are barred. If you are served with a Summons and Complaint for absolute divorce and fail to answer within thirty days, you may lose your right to an equitable distribution (a division of your marital assets and debts), post-separation support and alimony.
The Clerk of Court filing fee is $225 and the service fee is $30 through the sheriff. The total cost, including the attorney fee, filing fee, and service fee, is $775. If you have any questions or unusual circumstances, please feel free to call me to discuss them.
How Goldsboro Divorce Lawyers Can Help With Divorce from Bed & Board
When you have not separated, an alternative divorce is a “divorce from bed and board”. Under the applicable statute, the grounds for a legal separation are: 1) abandonment, 2) cruel and barbarous treatment that endangers the life of the other spouse, 3) indignities that render the other spouse’s condition intolerable and life burdensome, 4) excessive use of alcohol or drugs, 5) adultery and 6) maliciously turning the other out the doors.
The statute is pretty particular and your success in obtaining a divorce from bed and board is heavily dependent on three factors: your particular facts, your demonstrative evidence and lastly, your presentation of those facts and evidence to the court. The Court will not be inclined to Order the removal of a spouse from their home unless they hear very compelling evidence and can make specific findings of fact.
If you are approaching your one year mark, here are some things to think about:
- You must be a resident of the State of North Carolina for at least six (6) months.
- You must assert under oath that you have lived separate and apart for one year prior to filing for a divorce.
- You should know the current address of your spouse.
- If you want to revert back to your maiden name, I need to know your maiden name.
- If you have children, I need their names and their dates of birth.
- If you and your spouse have children born of the marriage, I need both your social security numbers.
- I need to know the date of marriage, the date of separation and where you were married.
- I need to know your full legal name and your spouse’s full legal name.
- If you have a Separation Agreement, I need to review the Agreement.