North Carolina Statutes Regarding Divorce

by Lillian Ewing

All 50 states allow no-fault divorces, but most states also allow fault divorces. Unlike most states, no-fault divorce is the only type of divorce in North Carolina. A divorce in North Carolina is called an “absolute” divorce, which is a no-fault divorce where neither spouse needs to have done anything wrong in order to get divorced. There is also a divorce from “bed and board”, which is actually not a true divorce but rather a legal separation.

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Filing for Divorce

All that is required to get an absolute divorce in North Carolina is for either you or your spouse to be a legal resident of North Carolina for six months and for you to have been separated for at least one year. To get a divorce from bed and board, you must accuse your spouse of some type of fault recognized by the court, such as abandoning your family, cruel treatment that endangers your life, adultery or excessive use of alcohol or drugs. You must file for divorce in District Court.

Property Distribution

North Carolina is an "equitable distribution" state. This means that the judge will divide your property fairly, but not necessarily equally. The court favors equal division of your property, but if the court determines that equal division would not be fair, it will use certain factors to divide property fairly. These factors include your income, property and liabilities at the time of property division, the duration of your marriage, your age and your physical and mental health.

Child Custody

In North Carolina, like many states, child custody is determined based on the best interests of the child The best interest of the child is the custody arrangement that best promotes the interest and welfare of the child. In determining the best interests of the child, the court will consider all relevant factors, including the safety of the child and parent from domestic violence at the hands of the other parent. The court will consider joint custody at the request of either parent. The court may order mediation to settle unresolved issues about custody and visitation either before or at the same time the issue is being heard by the court.

Child Support

Child support is based on the concept that it is a shared obligation of the parents and that a child should receive the same amount of financial support he would've received had his parents remained married. The court uses the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines to calculate child support. The guidelines consider both parents' gross income, number of children, how many days the child is scheduled to stay with each parent in a calendar year, and child care and health insurance expenses.


The court will award alimony, for a specified or indefinite period of time, if it determines that you are dependent upon your spouse financially and that an award would be equitable. In determining if alimony is equitable, the court will consider several factors, including the duration of your marriage, relative earnings and earning capacities of you and your spouse, your relative needs and the standard of living established during your marriage.