Guidelines for Divorce in North Carolina: A Primer for Residents

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: ” I’m not getting along with my husband. We’ve been married two weeks and it was a mistake. Can’t I just get an annulment?”


Getting married is one of the quintessential life milestones. A wedding signals to the world that two people have chosen to spend the rest of their lives together.  While some marriages stand the test of time, some couples encounter challenges and conflicts that cannot be rectified, and this is when conversations regarding divorce tend to start. In fact, the National Center for Health Statistic’s most recent data puts the national divorce rate at 2.7 divorces per 1,000 individuals.


divided-assets-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-Property-division-lawyer-300x239In North Carolina, the divorce rate is 3.1 divorces per 1,000 inhabitants, which is higher than the national average. While the reasons for divorce can vary from mutually agreed-upon irreconcilable differences to more severe reasons such as abuse or mental health, the process of applying for and fulfilling a divorce in North Carolina almost always involves working with an experienced divorce attorney.


A divorce attorney’s role is to explain to spouses what they can expect as court proceedings commence, and what work needs to be done before the case goes to court. While these conversations are obviously somewhat unique to each client and case, there are some commonalities in North Carolina divorce law. Therefore, this article aims to present guidelines for divorce that North Carolina residents should know.


Divorce Eligibility in North Carolina


To be eligible for a divorce in North Carolina, spouses need to have been separated for at least one year and a day. The term “separation” in this context means living in different homes, with at least one spouse intending for the separation to be permanent. In addition, either spouse must currently live in North Carolina for at least six months prior to filing.


Property Distribution


There are many divorce cases where spouses’ incomes and overall financial situations are vastly different, and the divorce would lead to a drastically different quality of life for one or the other.  In these cases, spouses should file for property division before the divorce is finalized. If they do not, they forever forfeit their right to property distribution, meaning each spouse only keeps assets that are in their name.


Property in both spouses’ names will stay in both names, as will any joint debts. Because of the high-stakes circumstances surrounding property distribution in a divorce, many spouses in North Carolina choose to employ the services of a divorce attorney to ensure their rights are preserved.


Child Support


Unlike the time restrictions on property distribution in North Carolina, spouses can file for child support claims at any time, provided the child in question is under 18 years of age.  This flexibility reflects the state’s intention to maintain the best interest of the child in cases of divorce.


When to Contact Legal Professionals


No matter how many times a person gets married and divorced, the process can seem daunting and exhausting. This is especially true of cases where questions of property distribution and child support are on the table as well. For years, the attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC have been helping spouses in Charlotte and North Carolina navigate the divorce process. Get a phone, video or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.







The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.





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