Filing for Divorce in North Carolina

Get Help From Experienced Divorce Attorneys Serving Mecklenburg County, NC

North Carolina has specific laws that govern the process of divorce. While deciding to end your marriage is part of that process, it is only the first step. You must follow specific legal procedures and meet state law requirements before the court can legally terminate your marriage.

To prevent unnecessary delays, expenses, or complications with your divorce, it is critical you consult an experienced divorce lawyer.

At Blood Law, PLLC, our law firm handles a wide range of family law cases – no matter how complex. It is essential to understand your legal rights and options to obtain a favorable divorce outcome. This is why it's so important to have an experienced divorce attorney on your side.

Going through a divorce? Contact us online or call (704) 286-0570 to speak with an experienced North Carolina divorce attorney and get started on your case today.

How To File for Divorce in North Carolina

Close up of a woman and a man sitting apart from each other on a couch, each touching their wedding rings.

Before a couple can file for divorce in North Carolina, they must be physically separated from one another for at least 1 year. The stipulation of living separate and apart is generally satisfied when each spouse resides in different households and have no intention of resuming marital relations. During this time, some parties elect to create a separation agreement to define how custody, spousal support, and other marital property will be divided prior to filing for divorce.

The second step in the divorce process is the filing within your county's Clerk of Court. This can be done through our services or on your own and will require a filing fee of approximately $225. This will trigger the next step which is "serving" your spouse with the papers. Service can be done by your local sheriff, through certified mail, a professional process server, or anyone over the age of 18 who does not have a personal gain in your divorce case. If you decide to hire someone to serve your papers, it may cost you an additional $30. Search for your county's local court here.

If your spouse does not respond to your complaint in 30 days, your divorce can still be processed and finalized by default. If your spouse does respond, then you must decide if the divorce is contested or uncontested. The duration, costs, and issues in play will largely depend on the type of divorce. This is where having an attorney is so critical to your success. We put you on the right path that achieves your personal goals and protects your children (if applicable).

Sometimes, a judge may order you and your spouse to attend mediation prior to making your divorce final. For some couples, mediation can save you the headache that comes with drawn-out divorce processes. Battles in court can become costly, lengthy, and public. Our highly experienced divorce mediators can help you and your spouse come to an agreement that benefits both sides.

For assets and debts acquired during the marriage, North Carolina is an equitable distribution state. This means that the judge will be under the assumption that all property will be divided equally between parties; however, there are certain statutory factors that if present will affect distribution. It is also important to note that once a divorce order has been entered, spouses are not eligible to claim rights to equitable distribution, post-separation support, or alimony. Therefore, it is key to contact an attorney to help in this process.

Once the judge hears both sides of testimony, he or she will make recommendations that are in your best interests. Upon the orders established, your divorce decree will be final and you are free to remarry if that is your wish.

Types of Divorce in North Carolina

North Carolina divorce law is different than many other states. Some states only allow no-fault divorce, while others allow you to choose between a no-fault divorce and a fault-based divorce. North Carolina gives you two options: an absolute divorce and a divorce from bed and board. It is crucial to understand which type of divorce you should pursue.

Absolute Divorce

This is the most common type of divorce in North Carolina. An absolute divorce legally ends your marriage and any related obligations. When the judge issues a Decree of Divorce, you are permitted to marry someone else and your marital benefits will end. You must have been a resident of North Carolina for at least 6 months before filing for absolute divorce. The grounds for an Absolute Divorce are: 

  • Separation for one year
  • Incurable insanity (at least two medical experts, including one psychiatrist, must testify that you are insane)

It should be noted that filing based on incurable insanity requires that you be separated for at least 3 years. Evidence and diagnosis by medical experts is required to prove the insanity claim. This is a big reason why this ground for divorce isn't seen very often.

For separated couples, there is no official document you must sign that declares when you and your spouse separated. You must simply remember the date with the intention that you wanted the separation to be permanent.

Divorce From Bed and Board

Even though this is called a “divorce,” it does not legally end your marriage like absolute divorce. If you pursue this type of case, you cannot legally marry another person, as this type of divorce is more of a forced legal separation. There is no required separation period for a divorce from bed and board, although you do have to prove one of the following fault-based grounds:

  • Abandonment - when one spouse severs all forms communication with having no intention of returning
  • Adultery - any sexual relationships outside the marriage
  • Cruel or barbarous treatment - acts that put your life in danger or could have caused serious bodily harm
  • Drug or alcohol abuse - this ground can have serious implications on child custody and/or visitation
  • Indignities - this can be a catch-all for other intolerable conducts

In some cases, it might be the right move to file for divorce from bed and board, though most cases pursue an absolute divorce based on no-fault grounds and one-year separation.

Does divorce from bed and board affect your spousal rights? Absolutely. If the divorce is granted by a judge, then the accused spouse may no longer cohabitate with their partner in any way, and may not receive their property if they happen to pass away. In some cases, they may even lose their right to the inheritance of the marital home. If both spouses reconcile, they will be able to recover those rights.

Common Divorce Case Issues That Our Divorce Attorneys Firm Can Assist With

The following issues are common during a divorce case:

Property Division

North Carolina law states that spouses must divide their marital property in an equitable manner. This means that, given the circumstances, the property division must be fair, although it does not have to be split 50/50.

Spousal Support

Also known as alimony or maintenance, spousal support refers to payments made by one spouse to another to provide necessary financial support following a divorce. If one spouse did not work or there is a significant discrepancy in income, alimony might be an issue in your case. The judge will examine whether one spouse needs support and whether the other spouse is able to pay for the support.


If you and your spouse have a child, you will need to settle how you will share child custody and whether one spouse will need to pay child support. It is best for you and your spouse to agree on a child custody arrangement, but if you cannot, the court will issue a custody order based on what it believes to be in the best interests of the child.

What Is an Uncontested Divorce?

When a married couple officially decides to go separate ways, several decisions must be made. How will you:

  1. Divide up property from before the marriage?
  2. Divide up property acquired during the marriage?
  3. Divide liabilities that you’ve acquired as a couple?
  4. Handle custody or a child, and sometimes a pet?
  5. Manage spousal or child support payments?

In a contested divorce these kinds of complicated matters get worked out in the court system so that both parties are treated as fairly as possible. Like any trial, this costs money. An uncontested divorce can reduce these costs.

Uncontested divorces may be worked out in a board room or even your living room. You and your spouse sit down with an attorney to discuss how to fairly divide up assets and liabilities, as well as how to protect the children. Once an agreement has been reached, both parties go before the court to get the agreement and the divorce finalized. This is a much less costly and contentious experience for both of you and the children.

Information To Gather If You Anticipate a Divorce

If you are anticipating a divorce but have yet to pull the trigger on the process, now is a good time to begin gathering the documents you’ll need to move forward more smoothly. For starters, you will want to gather the following information:

Your Marital Assets

Before you can divide property equitably in a divorce, you need to know what your assets are (in their entirety). Often a couple’s home is their greatest asset, but in a high asset divorce or a divorce involving a business, marital property can be exceedingly complicated. When you gather the paperwork documenting your marital assets, consider all of the following (and anything else you deem pertinent):

  • Your home
  • Any other real estate you own
  • A shared business
  • Your vehicles
  • Boats, RVs, and/or any other recreation-related vehicles
  • Jewelry
  • Art
  • Valuable collections
  • Antiques

Your Financial Situation

You’ll also need to gather all the paperwork related to your financials as a married couple. This documentation should include the most current invoices and forms but should also take a look backward (five years is the gold standard). In other words, you want to capture a complete picture when it comes to your financials. This documentation should include all of the following that apply:

  • Your joint income tax returns
  • Employment records for both of your
  • Financial records for all bank accounts, loans, credit cards, and other types of debt
  • Records related to retirement accounts, pension plans, and anything else associated with retirement (for both of you)
  • Your financial portfolio, including all investment accounts
  • Your wills and any trust agreements
  • Your Social Security statements
  • Your children’s assets

Why Hiring a Local Divorce Attorney is Important

Hiring a local divorce attorney can be important for several reasons:

  • Familiarity with local laws and procedures: Divorce laws can vary by state, and even within a state, procedures can differ by county. A local attorney will be familiar with the specific laws and procedures that apply to your case, ensuring that your divorce is handled correctly according to local regulations.
  • Knowledge of local courts and judges: A local attorney is likely to have experience working with the judges and court staff in your area. This can be beneficial, as they will have insights into how different judges tend to rule on certain issues and can tailor their approach accordingly.
  • Accessibility and convenience: Working with a local attorney can make it easier to meet in person, attend court hearings, and communicate effectively. This can be especially important during a divorce, when you may have many questions and concerns that you want to discuss face-to-face.
  • Community reputation and resources: A local attorney may have a reputation in the community for their work in divorce cases, which can be helpful in negotiations or court proceedings. They may also have connections to local resources, such as mediators or other professionals who can assist with aspects of your divorce.
  • Understanding of local resources and services: A local attorney will likely be familiar with the local resources available to support you during and after your divorce, such as counseling services, support groups, and other community organizations that can provide assistance.

Overall, hiring a local divorce attorney can provide you with the advantage of working with someone who understands the specific legal landscape and community resources in your area, which can be invaluable during a challenging time like divorce.

How Our Experienced North Carolina Divorce Attorneys Can Help

There are many reasons why couples choose to get divorced. Some divorces may be more emotional than others. Children also impact the decision-making process. While divorce is difficult to go through, it does not mark the end of your life or discourage you from a bright future. Our North Carolina divorce attorneys can help you work to overcome any issue you might have to face through this transition.

We take an individualized approach to each divorce case. Whether you want to resolve your divorce amicably or are looking for a legal team that can litigate your case aggressively in court, we are here to help.

Contact us online today or call (704) 286-0570 to speak with a reputable divorce lawyer in North Carolina! We serve clients throughout Mecklenburg County and beyond.

Commonly Asked Questions

What are the grounds for absolute divorce in North Carolina?

The grounds for absolute divorce in North Carolina are separation for one year or incurable insanity, which requires at least two medical experts, including one psychiatrist, to testify.

What is the difference between absolute divorce and divorce from bed and board in North Carolina?

Absolute divorce legally ends the marriage and allows remarriage, while divorce from bed and board is a forced legal separation without ending the marriage.

What are the fault-based grounds for divorce from bed and board in North Carolina?

The fault-based grounds for divorce from bed and board in North Carolina include abandonment, adultery, cruel or barbarous treatment, drug or alcohol abuse, and indignities.

What issues can a divorce attorney help with in North Carolina?

A divorce attorney can assist with property division, spousal support, child custody, and other legal matters related to divorce cases in North Carolina.

Our Clients Tell Their Stories

These Stories Are What Keep Us Going
  • "She cares about you as a friend, not just as a client. I highly recommend Anna Blood and her legal team as they are INCREDIBLE and a winning team of pros!"
    Debra K.
  • "Anna is an extremely trustworthy and understanding individual, which is very beneficial to any sticky family law situation you may find yourself dealing with. She is very attentive and focused on ..."
    Sean F.
  • "Anna and her team is such a joy to work with! Not only is she extremely talented, she is down to earth and understanding which is a really important quality when communicating with clients. She will ..."
    Jennifer W.

Our Promise to Our Clients

  • Convenient Locations

    With offices in Charlotte, Waxhaw, Lake Norman & Fort Mill, we make it easier for families across North Carolina & South Carolina to find quality counsel.

  • Children Come First
    With the complexities of family law, we put the well-being and safety of your children at the forefront of your case.
  • Team-Driven Environment
    When you work with Blood Law, PLLC, you work with our entire team. Everyone is here to support you through each step.
  • Honest Guidance
    We create personalized plans for each client while setting realistic expectations on the possible outcomes of the case.

Take the First Step

Schedule Your Initial Consultation
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.
  • By submitting, you agree to be contacted about your request & other information using automated technology. Message frequency varies. Msg & data rates may apply. Text STOP to cancel. Acceptable Use Policy