Contested Divorce in North Carolina

By Heather Frances J.D.

A contested divorce arises when spouses cannot agree on one or more terms of the divorce, such as child custody, property division or alimony. Since these issues must be addressed before a divorce judgment is entered, North Carolina courts step in to make decisions when spouses cannot agree. Contested divorces require more time and are often more expensive than uncontested divorces.


North Carolina law allows spouses to divorce for two reasons, or grounds: one year’s separation or incurable insanity and a three-year separation. These are both considered no-fault grounds. North Carolina has abolished all fault-based grounds, such as adultery and cruel treatment. The spouse who files for the divorce can list either ground as her reason for the divorce, but the other spouse can dispute it. For example, the responding spouse could argue they do not qualify for divorce since they have not been separated for a year.


If spouses cannot agree on custody arrangements for their children, the court will issue its own custody decisions based on the best interests of the child. North Carolina courts consider many factors to reach a decision about the child’s best interests, but there is no clear list of these factors in North Carolina law. The judge may consider topics such as the capacity of each parent to act in his child’s best interests, continuity of environment for the child and health of both parents.

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

Property Division

North Carolina law directs marital property to be split equitably between spouses, which means the property must be split fairly but not necessarily evenly. Marital property is all property acquired between the dates the spouses married and separated except property acquired by gift or inheritance. Here, North Carolina law gives a specific list of factors the court must consider, including the income and debts of each spouse, spousal support obligations from previous marriages, length of the marriage, age and health of the spouses, and custodial parent's need to stay in the family home to care for the children.


If spouses cannot agree on an alimony arrangement, the court will decide whether to award it and, if so, how much to award. To make these decisions, North Carolina courts consider several factors, such as how much money the recipient spouse needs to meet her reasonable needs, standard of living established during the marriage, duration of the marriage, and ages and conditions of the spouses. If a court awards alimony before dividing the couple’s property, either spouse can ask the court to reconsider its award once the property is divided.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
New York State No Fault Divorce Laws


Related articles

What Happens in a Fault Divorce in South Carolina?

South Carolina is not a progressive state when it comes to divorce. Some states no longer recognize fault-based grounds at all. South Carolina’s legislation still recognizes fault, however, and judges will also consider it when deciding issues of alimony and property division. In some cases, it can even tip the scales when child custody is in dispute.

New York State Divorce Laws

In 2010, New York became the last state in the country to embrace the concept of no-fault divorce. The legislature added irretrievable breakdown of the marriage to its list of permissible reasons to file. However, like other states, New York will not grant you a divorce until all issues are resolved between you and your spouse even if you’re in agreement that your marriage has simply run its course.

Adultery & Divorce in Maine

When your spouse strays, your first instinct might be to seek revenge. You might be able to accuse her of adultery in your divorce complaint and let the world know she ended your marriage. Maybe the judge will agree that she's a despicable character and award you additional marital property or give you custody of your children. If you live in Maine, you'd be half right. You can file for divorce on grounds of adultery in this state, but it probably won't affect issues of property division or custody.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

Divorce in Missouri If Your Spouse Has Mental Problems

Your spouse's mental health problems may affect some aspects of your divorce case in Missouri. Although state law in ...

Arkansas Divorce Information

Arkansas favors marriage and requires proof of the grounds on which a petition for divorce is based. Most people file ...

Is the Absence of Sexual Relations Grounds for Divorce?

Sexual behavior outside the marriage and the lack of sexual relations within the marriage can serve as grounds for ...

Tennessee Laws on Annulments

Both a divorce and an annulment result in the dissolution of a marriage in Tennessee, but an annulment is a very ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED