Filing Divorce Papers in North Carolina Without Paying Court Costs

By Cindy DeRuyter, J.D.

Filing Divorce Papers in North Carolina Without Paying Court Costs

By Cindy DeRuyter, J.D.

Divorce is often stressful, both emotionally and financially. Unfortunately, on top of the prospect of maintaining two separate financial households after a divorce, there are court fees associated with divorce filings. If you qualify as an "indigent" petitioner in North Carolina, you can file divorce papers without paying court costs.

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1. Determine whether you qualify for a financial fee waiver.

If you qualify as indigent, the court waives your fees. You are generally indigent in North Carolina if you receive any of the following benefits:

  • Food and Nutrition Services
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Work First Family Assistance

People who do not receive the above benefits may still qualify for fee waivers. Applicants in such cases may need to submit additional information for the Clerk of Courts' or judge's review and evaluation.

2. Obtain and complete a form to petition as an indigent.

Obtain a copy of the North Carolina Petition to Proceed as an Indigent (Form G-106) through the North Carolina Courts website or from your county Clerk of Courts.

Complete the form carefully, indicating your reason for applying as an indigent. If you do not currently receive Food and Nutrition Services, SSI, or Work First Family Assistance and if you are not represented by a legal services organization that furnishes services to indigent people, check the box indicating that you are unable to advance the court filing costs.

When complete, sign and date the petition and have a notary public witness your signature.

3. Prepare and file your divorce papers.

To start a divorce proceeding in North Carolina, file the following documents with the Clerk of Court's office in your county:

  • Complaint: This is the petition to the court requesting dissolution of your marriage. If you want the court to handle division of your assets and liabilities or you want to request spousal maintenance, include those details in the complaint.
  • Summons: Along with the complaint, you must "serve" the summons on your spouse, or legally notify him or her of your intent to end your marriage.
  • Cover sheet: The Domestic Civil Action Cover Sheet (Form CV-750) gives the court basic information about your filing.
  • Affidavit: Complete and file an affidavit documenting whether your spouse is an active-duty service member.
  • Form G-106: File this form with your other divorce papers in lieu of paying the then-current filing fee.

If the court denies your request for a fee waiver, you must pay all court costs before the clerk of courts or judge will review your divorce complaint or other legal filing.

4. Serve your spouse with the summons and complaint.

North Carolina law requires people who file for divorce to notify their husbands or wives of their intentions. Service of process means paying to have the sheriff serve the documents on your spouse or paying for delivery by a professional courier or delivery service.

Your financial situation should not mean you have to remain in an unhappy marriage. If you cannot afford the court costs to file a divorce action, consider applying for indigent status using the steps described above.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.

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