Absolute Divorce in North Carolina

By Erika Johansen

Most divorces in North Carolina are absolute divorces. Although North Carolina offers a second form of divorce, called a "bed and board" divorce, only the absolute divorce permanently severs the marriage. Further, all issues of the marriage must be settled before the court will finalize an absolute divorce.

Absolute Divorce

North Carolina allows for no-fault divorce, meaning that either party can ask for a divorce even if there's been no wrongdoing in the marriage. Parties can seek an absolute divorce in North Carolina on two grounds. The first is that one party in the marriage is incurably insane, which requires evidence of insanity and that the parties have lived apart for three years. The second, more common grounds for divorce is that the two parties have lived in separate residences for an entire year. At least one of the parties must also prove residence in North Carolina for the six months prior to initiating absolute divorce proceedings, so that the North Carolina court has jurisdiction to hear the case.

Separation Requirements

The requirement of a year's separation has specific rules. Generally, a court will require proof that the two spouses have lived in separate residences for 12 months and that at least one party intended permanent separation. If the court finds that the spouses resumed their marriage during this period, however, the 12-month period will start over on the day the attempt at reconciliation broke off. While North Carolina law once recognized sexual relations as proof of resumption of marriage, the current law looks at the situation as a whole to decide whether the two spouses have actually attempted to renew their marriage. Isolated sexual contact alone will generally not restart the 12-month clock.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

Bed and Board

Absolute divorce is different from the other type of North Carolina divorce: divorce from bed and board. This second type of divorce requires some showing of fault by one spouse, such as abandonment, adultery or substance abuse, among others. The spouse without fault can then petition the court for judicial separation, effectively asking the court to kick the offending spouse out of the family residence. However, resuming cohabitation after a bed and board divorce can nullify the divorce under North Carolina law. Absolute divorce, by contrast, severs all marriage rights.

Finalizing the Divorce

A North Carolina absolute divorce decree will not be finalized until the court has dealt with all issues of the marriage, such as decisions about custody of children and awards of child and spousal support. However, under North Carolina General Statutes, Section 50-11, once an absolute divorce has been finalized, the marriage is effectively ended and either party is now free to remarry. However, an absolute divorce decree won't affect any financial support rights granted to one or both parties as part of the divorce.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
What Is the Least Time You Have to Be Separated for You to Get a Divorce in New Jersey?

References

Related articles

90 Day Cooling Off Period for a Divorce in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania requires a 90-day "cooling off" period for no-fault or "mutual consent" divorces, which provides an estranged couple the opportunity to resolve existing differences and salvage the marriage. If the husband and wife cannot resolve their disagreements in that time period, in most cases, a divorce decree can be issued by the court.

Abandonment Laws in a Florida Divorce

Florida law provides that a court may grant a divorce request if the marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Whether the circumstances of a particular case rise to the level of an irretrievably broken marriage depends on the facts of the case. One circumstance under which a Florida court may make such a finding is when one spouse abandons the other. Abandonment, sometimes referred to as “desertion,” may be actual or implied under the circumstances.

Can You Divorce Your Wife for Not Consumating the Marriage?

In many states, the refusal of spouses to engage in sexual relations with their husband or wife may help establish grounds for divorce on claims such as desertion or abandonment. Other states require parties to a "no-fault" divorce, where neither spouse blames the other for the dissolution of the marriage, to refrain from sexual intercourse for a period of time before the divorce can become final.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Indiana Laws for Separation Before Divorce

Indiana law provides couples with two options if they want to end or change their marital relationship: dissolution of ...

Louisiana Annulment Statute

If a marriage does not meet the requirements of Louisiana law, the marriage may be null and void. With an annulment, it ...

Types of Divorce in South Dakota

When spouses decide to end their marriage, one or both of them must file for divorce. To be eligible to file for ...

Grounds for Divorce in Tennessee

From attempted murder to refusal to move to the state, the law in Tennessee allows couples to claim some unique grounds ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED