North Carolina Divorce Laws

North Carolina Divorce Requirements

Before individuals are allowed to file for divorce in the state of North Carolina, they first must meet the residency requirements. Residency requirements vary with each state. North Carolina requires individuals to be state residents for a minimum of six months before a divorce can be petitioned.

North Carolina divorceBoth individuals are not required to be North Carolina residents to have a North Carolina divorce, but one spouse is required to be a state resident. If both individuals live within the state boundaries but in different counties, either may file for divorce in his or her county or the county of the other individual. All divorce petitions are to be handled by the county court systems.

Filing with the Court in North Carolina

Filing with the Court in North Carolina
You must file your North Carolina divorce papers in the court located in the County where you presently reside. We will provide the court information in the documents that we send to you, but some of the courts in North Carolina are listed below:

  • Wake County District Court:
    316 Fayetteville St Mall, Raleigh, NC 27601 Phone: (919) 755-4105
  • Durham County District Court:
    201 East Main St., Durham, NC 27701 Phone: (919) 564-7070
  • Durham County Family Court:
    201 N. Roxboro St., 1st Floor, Durham, NC 27701 Phone: 919-564-7220 Fax: 919-564-7089
  • Guilford County District Court:
    201 South Eugene St., Greensboro, NC 27401 Phone: (336) 574-4302
  • Forsyth County District Court:
    200 N Main St., Winston Salem, NC 27120 Phone: (336) 761-2250
  • Mecklenburg County District Court:
    832 East Fourth St., Charlotte, NC 28202 Phone: (704) 686-0400
  • Cumberland County District Court:
    117 Dick St., Fayetteville, NC 28301 Phone: (910) 678-2902
  • Gaston County District Court:
    325 North Marietta St., Gastonia, NC 28052-2331 Phone: (704) 852-3100
  • Buncombe County District Court:
    60 Court Plaza, Asheville, NC 28801 Phone: (828) 232-2605

If your County court is not listed, the information for your court will be included in the divorce papers we send you.

Filing Grounds

In order for a divorce petition to be granted, the petition must state the reasoning for wanting a divorce. This reasoning is called the grounds for divorce. Simply because one state claims divorcing grounds are legal in its boundaries, does not mean those grounds are legal in the state of North Carolina.

When deciding on grounds for divorce, the individuals involved may agree upon the required grounds or one individual may present the grounds but will need to prove them before the court.

North Carolina breaks its grounds for divorce into two different sections: No-Fault grounds and Fault grounds. Under No-Fault grounds no individual is cited as responsible for the divorce petitioning, and often the individuals filing have attended couples counseling.

No-fault grounds state that the reasoning for divorce is a separation where both individuals have agreed to live at a separate residency for a minimum of one year. Under these circumstances either individual may petition for a divorce but often do so together.

Fault grounds often cite one individual responsible for the divorce petition and the other individual is the petitioner. Grounds under Fault circumstances include malicious behavior where one individual put the other outdoors; abandonment of one individual and their family; cruel treatment of one individual by the other where life is endangered; excessive use of drugs or alcohol where the circumstances become intolerable and a burden; and indignities of one individual that make cohabitation intolerable and a burden.

Divorce Documents

Each divorce case has different required documents and can vary depending on the case’s circumstances. For instance, more documents will be necessary if children are involved and if the marriage was lengthy. In some cases at least twenty different documents are necessary.

Some of these include a Complaint for Divorce and Decree of Divorce form, a Declaration Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act form, a Verification form, a Domestic Civil Action Cover Sheet, a Marital Settlement Agreement, and a Civil Summons form.

Distributing Property

North Carolina is considered to be an equitable distribution state where all the property acquired during the marriage is to be divided fairly between the two, rather than equally. If the individuals cannot agree on who shall keep which kind of property, the court will award property equitably.

The court will consider each individual’s employment, custody of any children, economic status, contribution to the home, the length of the marriage, and others before awarding property.


Frequently asked questions about divorce laws in North Carolina typically cover various essential aspects. Here are some commonly asked questions and their corresponding answers:

What are the Grounds for Divorce in North Carolina?

North Carolina allows both no-fault and fault-based grounds for divorce. No-fault grounds typically involve living separate and apart for at least one year. Fault-based grounds might include adultery, abandonment, cruel treatment, substance abuse, or criminal conviction with a sentence of at least one year.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Divorce in North Carolina?

The time needed to finalize a divorce in North Carolina can vary based on court schedules, the complexity of the case, and whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. Generally, it can take several months to over a year.

How Is Property Divided in a Divorce in North Carolina?

North Carolina follows the principle of equitable distribution. Marital property and debts are divided fairly, though not necessarily equally, based on various factors such as the length of the marriage, each spouse’s financial situation, and their contributions during the marriage.

Does North Carolina Have Alimony (Spousal Support)?

Yes, North Carolina allows for spousal support. The court may award temporary or long-term support based on factors such as the duration of the marriage, each spouse’s financial situation, and their contributions during the marriage.

How Does North Carolina Handle Child Custody and Support?

Child custody decisions prioritize the best interests of the child. North Carolina courts consider various factors including the child’s relationship with each parent, the parents’ ability to provide for the child, and the child’s wishes (if they’re of sufficient age). Child support is determined using the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines.

Do We Need to Go to Court for a Divorce in North Carolina?

If both parties can agree on all terms of the divorce, they might not need to go to court. Uncontested divorces can often be settled through paperwork and negotiation outside of court. However, if disputes persist, a court appearance might be necessary.

Can I Modify a Divorce Decree in North Carolina?

Modifications to child support, child custody, or spousal support are possible under certain circumstances if there’s a substantial change in circumstances. Legal procedures are typically required for modifications.

These questions address common concerns individuals have when navigating divorce in North Carolina. However, specifics can vary based on each unique situation, and seeking legal counsel is advisable to address individual circumstances and receive accurate guidance throughout the divorce process.

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