There are numerous reasons why a couple decides to get divorced. Regardless of the reason, they must follow the divorce laws of the state where they reside to dissolve the marriage legally. In some states, a spouse must have grounds for the divorce before the state will dissolve the marriage. The party requesting the divorce must prove to the court that his or her spouse was at fault for the breakup of the marriage. The “fault” must be one of the state’s legally adopted grounds for divorce.
The grounds for divorce vary by state and are determined by the legislature of each state. Grounds for divorce range from adultery and physical abuse to abandonment and habitual drunkenness. However, some states that do not require a spouse to have “grounds” in order to obtain a divorce. Those states are what we call “no-fault” divorce. North Carolina is a no-fault state.
North Carolina’s Grounds for Divorce
North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state meaning that couples do not need to prove that one spouse was at “fault” for the breakup of the marriage. The couple only needs to meet the statutory requirements enacted by the state legislature in order to dissolve the marriage. In North Carolina, the grounds for divorce are simple:
- One or both spouses have lived in North Carolina for six months prior to the divorce and
- The parties have lived separate and apart for the 12 months preceding the divorce.
Provided the couple meets these two requirements, they can obtain a divorce in North Carolina without any additional grounds. A spouse can also apply for divorce in North Carolina based on incurable insanity but the parties must have lived separate and apart for three years and the petitioning spouse must have proof that the other spouse has been diagnosed with incurable insanity. Incurable insanity is rarely used as grounds for divorce in North Carolina.
North Carolina does not require that both spouses agree to the divorce. Provided that one spouse asks for the divorce and meets the residency and separation requirements, the court will grant the divorce. It is important to keep in mind that if you and your spouse reconcile at any time during the 12-month separation period, you must restart the time if you decide to resume the divorce process.
Do I Need an Attorney for a Divorce in North Carolina?
Even though North Carolina is a “no-fault divorce” state, you need an attorney to ensure that your rights are protected. Once the judge signs the divorce order, the parties are barred from filing actions for alimony, post-separation support or equitable distribution. Consulting an attorney prior to beginning a divorce action protects your rights. Furthermore, the grounds for divorce may be simple; however, issues relating to custody, support and property distribution are rarely simple.
Contact an Experienced Jacksonville Divorce Attorney
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When you have legal problems, you need an experienced legal professional in your corner. No matter the case, you should have an attorney working for you who knows the law and who has the experience to get results. We represent clients throughout Duplin County, Onslow County and the surrounding communities. Call our office at (910) 405-8459 or contact us online today for a free case evaluation.