How to Get a Divorce in North Carolina Without Waiting a Year

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “What does a “No-Fault’ divorce mean in NC?”


Most people who want to get divorced wish to get it over with as quickly as possible, but what many of them do not realize is that North Carolina law requires a one-year waiting period for divorces.

Is there any way to speed up your divorce in North Carolina? Can you actually “skip” or “bypass” the waiting period to obtain a divorce decree as soon as possible?


waiting-on-the-bench-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-Divorce-and-separation-Lawyer-300x214The Waiting Period for Divorces in North Carolina

It is understandable that people want to finish their divorces as quickly as possible. After all, those divorce proceedings can be a frustrating and exhausting process. North Carolina imposes the following required waiting period and timeframes for divorces:

  • Spouses must be separated for a year before filing for divorce.
  • At least one spouse must have lived in North Carolina for six months before filing.
  • The party who has been served with divorce papers in North Carolina has 30 days to file a response. An additional 30 days can be granted if the spouse files the proper request.
  • When the 30-day waiting period (or the 60-day waiting period, if an additional 30 days are granted) is over, spouses can file a Motion for Summary Judgment. Within the next three to five weeks, the judge will review the motion to sign a final divorce judgment.

Generally, the above-mentioned mandated waiting periods are required in all divorce cases in North Carolina, regardless of circumstances.


Why Does the Waiting Period Exist in North Carolina?

There are two grounds to obtain an absolute divorce in North Carolina. One of them is three years of incurable insanity, which is rarely used in divorce cases nowadays. The other one is separation for more than one year.

There are two reasons why waiting periods exist in many states. Firstly, the waiting period is imposed to make sure that spouses do not change their minds about their separation. Secondly, the waiting period exists to make sure that the couple did not conceive a baby shortly before their separation.

To get divorced based on the one-year separation, the soon-to-be-former spouses must have been living apart for at least one year. The requirement that the parties live separately entails a physical separation and the intent of either spouse or both spouses to end their marriage.


Can You Avoid the Waiting Period in North Carolina?

If you want to get over with your divorce as quickly as possible, you may be wondering how to skip, bypass, or avoid the mandated waiting period.

Unfortunately, there is no legal way to avoid this divorce requirement in North Carolina, though there may be exceptions. Some choose to falsely claim that they had been separated for one year on their divorce complaint just to get divorced as soon as possible. However, it is not advised to do that.

In limited instances, however, it is possible to waive the waiting period. However, whether to waive the one-year waiting period is up to the discretion of the court.

While you are waiting for the separation period to pass, it would be a good idea to negotiate a settlement agreement with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse to find a consensus on such issues as child custody, alimony, child support, and property distribution.

This could make the entire divorce process much quicker and easier. If you find yourself facing a complicated family law matter and need the help of experienced family-law attorneys, speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers in or around Charlotte, Lake Norman, or at our new office in Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 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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