No Fault Divorce in North Carolina

NC DivorceNorth Carolina is a “no-fault” absolute divorce state.    What does “no-fault” mean?  It means that to obtain an absolute divorce a spouse need not show that he or she was wronged by the other spouse.  Prior to revisions to the law, divorces were only granted to a spouse who proved that he or she was wronged in some way.  For example, a spouse would have to prove fault grounds like adultery, indignities, and other bad behavior.  This is no longer required for an absolute divorce.

To obtain a divorce in North Carolina there are only a few basic requirements.

First, the party seeking the divorce must be a resident of North Carolina for at least six months prior to filing for the divorce.  To be a resident you must live in North Carolina with an intent to remain in the state.

Second, the spouses must be separated for at least one year.  Being separated means being out from under the same roof and one of you has the intent to be separated.    The year of separation is not stopped if, for example, the spouses do things together or even occasionally have sexual relations, however, such conduct can complicate the issue of the separation.

Absolute divorce must be distinguished from divorce from bed and board.   An absolute divorce means the marriage is dissolved and over.  It is final.

A divorce from bed and board, on the other hand, is a decree of  the court based on fault grounds that the parties are legally separated and cuts off certain rights of the spouses.   These kinds of divorces are relatively unusual.