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Family Law

Divorce & Separation

The decision to end a marriage is never something that is entered into lightly. Each divorce is uniquely different with its own obstacles. In addition, the divorce process itself can be complex and emotionally challenging for all parties involved. Because one wrong move can result in serious long-lasting consequences, it is imperative to ensure that your divorce is handled properly and your rights are protected. The best way to prepare and navigate through a divorce is always with the guidance of an experienced and knowledgeable family law attorney. 

What are the Requirements for Divorce?   

Under North Carolina law, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-6, an absolute divorce is the dissolution of a marriage. To be eligible for an absolute divorce it is not necessary to show any type of fault as North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state. However, you do have to show the following two requirements: 

  1. Spouses must be separated for at least one continuous year prior to filing for an absolute divorce, in separate residences, with at least one spouse intending for the separation to be permanent; and 
  2. At least one spouse must be a legal resident of North Carolina for a period of at least six months prior to filing for dissolution of marriage. 

It is vital to understand that an absolute divorce will only dissolve your marriage, it will not resolve any other issues that you may have in connection with your separation, such as property division, alimony, child custody, or child support. Divorces with no other issues, or when spouses have already agreed upon the issues, are often referred to as a “simple divorce” or an “uncontested divorce”. 

If you have claims for property division and spousal support these must be resolved or reserved before an absolute divorce is granted. If these claims are not properly addressed prior to the entry of your divorce judgment, they are lost forever. You will be barred from seeking equitable distribution or alimony after you are divorced, therefore, it is vitally important to ensure that your claims for these issues are properly preserved. 

Separation, Property Division, Custody, and Support Issues 

While you have to be separated for a year before becoming eligible for a divorce, there is no requirement that you have to wait to resolve issues of property division, spousal support, child custody, or child support. Many spouses elect to resolve these issues during the separation period.  Some circumstances will require that these issues be dealt with promptly. Unresolved financial matters and custody issues can not be ignored, especially if you are a dependent spouse or non-custodial parent. 

Claims for equitable distribution, spousal support, custody, and child support can all be addressed through a separation agreement, which is an agreement reached outside of court. If it is not possible to reach an agreement with your spouse, an action can be filed with the court separately from an absolute divorce claim prior to the completion of your one-year separation. 

If you are considering divorce or have recently separated, it is critical that you seek advice and guidance from an experienced family law attorney. The decisions made during a divorce are final and have long-term consequences. A knowledgeable attorney can help you assess your options so that you can make informed decisions.  

At Hopper Cummings,  our attorneys have over 30 years of experience in helping our clients efficiently resolve their issues in all areas of family law, including divorce.  For a confidential consultation with one of our attorneys, call us today at 919-533-4115 or complete our online form


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This article and all of the content on this website are intended for information purposes only and are not to be considered legal advice or substituted for consultation with an experienced attorney. We strive to ensure the content on our site is current, informative, and based on North Carolina law and practice procedure in effect at the time of its writing and publication. Call our office to schedule a consultation at 919-533-4115, email us at, or complete a contact form on any page of this site for specific and accurate information about your unique matter.

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