Family Law Divorce


In North Carolina, to file for Absolute Divorce you must have lived separate and apart from your spouse for one year, after at least one spouse has shown a desire to separate and end the marriage. At Schulz Stephenson Law, our lawyers can answer the many questions you may have about absolute divorce, divorce from bed and board, and annulments.

Grounds For Divorce In North Carolina


First the spouses must be separated. The spouses generally cannot be living in two separate rooms in the same home; they must be living in two separate locations for at least one year. When separated at least one of the spouses has to have the intention to end the marriage (the other spouse does not have to want to end the marriage to get an absolute divorce).

The marital relationship cannot have been resumed at any point during the separation period. Isolated incidents of sexual intercourse between spouses is not enough to be considered resumption of marital relations – resumption of marital relations is determined by a number of circumstances that Schulz Stephenson Law can clarify through a consultation.

To prove separation one spouse’s testimony, written and verified proof through pleadings, or live testimony given in person at the courthouse, stating the date the couple separated is typically enough proof.

Incurably Insane

The second ground for divorce is in the event that one spouse is incurably insane. In order to file for divorce, the spouses must have lived apart for three consecutive years because the diagnosis of insanity. After the three year separation the spouse who is not declared insane can file for divorce.

Please see the North Carolina statutes regarding absolute divorce in cases of incurable insanity.

The vast majority of the time divorce actions are filed after separation for one year and one day. If there are no issues to be heard by the court, such as child custody, child support, alimony, equitable distribution (distribution of property acquired during the marriage or otherwise in dispute), spouses can have their case resolved and a judgment for divorce is typically achieve within two months.

Typically if other issues are still pending it is still possible to obtain a judgment for divorce, prior to the final resolution of the other issues. However, it is important to note that unless a claim for alimony has been filed with the court before the entry of a divorce judgment (that means, before the court grants the divorce) the right to alimony is lost. The same will be true regarding a claim for equitable distribution of property.

When filing for absolute divorce, a woman can also file a claim in the same action to resume use of her maiden name, the name of a living former spouse with whom she has a child or children with the same last name, or the name of a former spouse who is deceased.

North Carolina Divorce Lawyers

At Schulz Stephenson Law we recommend you seek legal counsel prior to filing for a divorce yourself. There are many issues that must be addressed and many that you may overlook if you attempt to handle the matter yourself. If you handle the matter yourself, and obtain an absolute divorce without having a pending claim for alimony and/or equitable distribution, you cannot go back and attempt to acquire income or property from your spouse.

For example: property may include income from your spouse’s company pension plans, SEP, 410(k), IRA’s and Social Security. You may also lose your right to recover post separation support (PSS) or alimony if your divorce is granted prior to you filing the appropriate claims. Our job is to help you protect your rights.

You can schedule an appointment with one of our divorce lawyers by calling (252) 728-7300 today!

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