Grounds for Divorce in Fayetteville, North Carolina

by Jim Thomas

Divorce in North Carolina is governed by state law. Whether you are in Fayetteville, Durham or Ashville, the grounds for divorce are the same. North Carolina is a no-fault state; therefore, you don't need to prove your spouse caused the end of your marriage. Separation for one year and incurable insanity are the only grounds for divorce in North Carolina. A handful of grounds exist for obtaining a legal separation in North Carolina, however, they are rarely used.

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No-Fault Divorce

In North Carolina, you can file for a no-fault divorce after you and your spouse have lived separately for one year. There is a six-month residency requirement -- either you or your spouse must have lived in North Carolina for at least six months before you can file. The same rules apply whether you married in North Carolina or another state. "Isolated incidents of sexual intercourse between the parties" during the 12-month separation period are not considered a resumption of the marital relationship, which would require you to start over to establish the one-year separation requirement.

Incurable Insanity

The only other grounds for divorce in North Carolina is incurable insanity. The spouses must have lived separately for at least three years without cohabitation and continue to do so "by reason of the incurable insanity of one of them." In such a circumstance, a divorce may be granted upon a petition from the sane party. A person is defined as incurably insane if he or she has been diagnosed as such. Proof of incurable insanity for the purposes of a divorce requires "the testimony of two reputable physicians."


In order to obtain a divorce in Fayetteville, you need to file a complaint with the county court after the one-year separation period is complete. The complaint contains information about the marriage, present living arrangements, names of any children you may have together and the grounds for seeking a divorce. Typically, if you and your spouse are able to cooperate, you can work out a separation agreement that deals with such issues as child custody, child support and alimony, and a division of property agreement.


Fault-based legal separations may be granted by North Carolina courts for a number of reasons. Although this law is written in antiquated language and seldom used, it can enable you to toss a misbehaving spouse out of the house. Known as "divorce from bed and board," such legal separations do not actually constitute a divorce, but they can start the clock running on the one-year separation requirement. The grounds for legal separation include "malicious turning out of doors," which occurs when your spouse tosses you out of the house; "cruel or barbarous treatment," such as domestic violence; "indignities," a pattern of behavior making it intolerable to live with your spouse; excessive use of alcohol or drugs; and adultery.