Uncontested Divorce in North Carolina
In North Carolina, the spouses may choose to proceed with either an uncontested or a contested divorce.
- A contested divorce is a more prolonged and expensive process. It happens when the spouses are unable to come to an agreement. Such issues as marital property division, child custody, North Carolina child support, debt allocations, retirement funds, etc., may be challenging to be settled amicably. Thus, the divorcing spouses may need legal advice from a law firm.
- An uncontested divorce is a much more simple and cheaper option for divorcees. The spouses who manage to resolve all their divorce-related issues without legal assistance can proceed with an uncontested divorce and save their time, money and nerves on expensive divorce lawyers.
Typically, many spouses choose to proceed with an uncontested as it’s less complicated and allows them to handle their DIY divorce.
Get Your Divorce Forms Completed Online
To get assistance with divorce forms and save money on costly attorneys from law firms, divorcing spouses can use online divorce service, namely DivorceOnline. It is a unique tool that helps divorcees handle their paperwork. In a short time, for a reasonable price ($139), the spouses get divorce paperwork ready for filing.
All you need to do is complete a simple questionnaire to gather the relevant information on your marriage and divorce. Then we will help you sort out, select, and prepare the appropriate divorce forms. We don’t sell empty blanks; our task is to help those without any legal training complete their divorce forms from the comfort of their own home for a reasonable price.
However, if you proceeded with a contested divorce or you have a lot of unsettled issues with your soon-to-be-ex spouse, we strongly recommend you to use an attorney's service as we do not provide legal advice.
Steps for Filing a Divorce in North Carolina
There are several consecutive steps residents of North Carolina have to follow to get a divorce.
According to North Carolina law, to fulfill residency requirements, at least one of the spouses must be a resident of North Carolina for no less than six months prior to the divorce filing.
The divorce may be filed in the North Carolina county where either of the spouses resides.
Since North Carolina is a no-fault state, there is no need to prove any spouse’s fault to get a divorce (also referred to as an absolute divorce). Thus, there are two grounds to use when applying for a divorce:
- Separation for one year; or
- Living separate and apart for three consecutive years due to incurable insanity of one spouse (this period includes the time of petition filing).
Another option is called a divorce from bed and board, which is technically a fault-based action brought by a complainant to get the other spouse out of home by the court. This action is similar to a legal separation. For divorce from bed and board, one of the following fault grounds must be established:
- Physical abuse,
- Emotional abuse;
- Alcohol or drugs addiction;
- Adultery; or
- Maliciously being thrown out of the house.
A plaintiff must prepare and submit North Carolina divorce papers with the court in the county where either spouse resides to initiate the divorce process.
Divorce Papers in North Carolina
Each divorce requires a unique set of paperwork to be filed. However, some documents are basic for any divorce case:
- Complaint For Absolute Divorce;
- Domestic Civil Action Cover Sheet, and
- Civil Summons.
Another crucial document, Marital Settlement Agreement, can significantly influence the divorce procedure and cost. However, the spouses unable to resolve such issues as child custody, North Carolina child support, marital property division, etc. may request the court to handle those.
If the divorcees can’t handle their divorce forms, they can contact the county’s clerk or check out online divorce services such as DivorceOnline. DivorceOnline is specifically designed to help soon-to-be-ex spouses sort out their divorce papers.
In North Carolina, the court requires the plaintiff to pay filing fees before filing as they submit the required divorce forms. The average divorce filing fee in North Carolina is about $225, though the exact amount may vary depending on the county where the spouses reside.
There is also an option to request the court to waive filing fees if the plaintiff is unable to afford them.
Typically, the waiting period begins as soon as the defendant is served. Then they have 30 days to respond to the divorce complaint.
When the divorce documents are filed, the plaintiff must serve the defendant with copies of the completed papers. This can be done by the sheriff, a licensed process server, or any person over 18 not involved in the proceedings.
The defendant could also complete an Acceptance of Service form so that the plaintiff can service them personally.
After the court gets an acknowledgment of service, the plaintiff should return a “Notice of Hearing” to the clerk’s office. Then the clerk will schedule a date for a divorce hearing.
The spouses have to take two copies of “Judgement of Absolute Divorce” and a “Certificate of Absolute Divorce” to the hearing. During the hearing, the judge will review all the documents and ask several questions about the marriage and separation.
After the hearing, the final divorce decree is signed, and the divorce process is finalized.
Getting a Divorce With Children
If there are minor children in a marriage, there are several issues that must be addressed that include: child custody, child support, and visitation.
Divorcing parents can either come up with their own custody agreements or leave matters up to the North Carolina court to decide. If the custody issues are taken into court, the judge will handle them, keeping the child’s best interest in mind.
The court can grant either sole or joint child custody when determining physical and legal custody. Sole and joint custody depend significantly on several factors including parents’ ability to create a united front raising a child after divorce. Those parents unable to cooperate and involved in unsettled disputes won’t be awarded joint custody.
The decisions on the custody in North Carolina are based on the judge’s evaluation of the following factors:
- The relationship between the child and each parent;
- Physical and emotional health of each parent;
- Ability of esch parent to ptovide a child with stability;
- Willingness of each parent to foster a relationship between the child and the other parent;
- Child’s relationship with each parent and ties to siblings and extended family members;
- The child’s preferences (if the child is considered to be old enough);
- Child’s ties to home, school and community;
- Child’s special needs;
- The history of domestic violence or abuse of each parent; and
- Any other factor considered relevant to the child’s best interests.
As for child support, North Carolina has statewide Child Support Guidelines used in most cases, barring exceptional circumstances.
These guidelines consider the incomes of both parents, the number of children, child-related expenses, and child custody arrangements.
Thus, the state of North Carolina provides different worksheets to help calculate the amount of support depending on the custody arrangement that applies in a particular case (sole, joint, or split custody).
Child support payments generally continue until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school.
Filing for Divorce in North Carolina Without a Lawyer
The divorcing couples can always choose to proceed with an uncontested divorce and handle the whole process without a lawyer in North Carolina. Dealing with a divorce without legal help from a law firm may significantly reduce the divorce cost.
Instead, if the spouses still need some help to create their Marital Settlement Agreement and prepare for an uncontested divorce, they can participate in mediation. Divorce mediation is a voluntary settlement process, where the neutral third party helps the spouses reach an agreement on the full range of divorce-related issues without litigation.
Do-It-Yourself Divorce in North Carolina
North Carolina residents eligible for an uncontested divorce can proceed with a DIY divorce. This way, they can terminate their marriage without any legal assistance.
Do-it-yourself divorce is a cheaper option as the spouses don’t hire costly attorneys. However, some people may find divorce process rather challenging.
Many couples find it challenging to keep up with all the requirements without any legal training. However, paperwork can be handled by great online divorce services, like DivorceOnline.
DivorceOnline is explicitly designed to assist divorcees with their divorce forms. It helps the couples prepare their paperwork and provides them with a step-by-step filing guide.
For just $139, DivorceOnline helps spouses handle their paperwork in two business days.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Typically, it takes 45 to 90 days for spouses to get a final divorce decree. And yet, the couple must consider that any attendant complications to the divorce case may significantly prolong the overall divorce process for months.
For an uncontested divorce, couples won’t have to pay much more than filing fees, which are about $225 in North Carolina. However, for complicated cases, the help of a divorce attorney may be needed, which can increase the overall cost significantly. Typically, the spouses with no minors involved in a marriage and with all their divorce-related issues resolved may expect their divorce process to be rather affordable.
There is no such thing as free divorce in North Carolina. However the spouses may choose several options to reduce the overalll cost of their divorce.
Plaintiff may avoid paying filing fees by submitting the form “Petition to proceed as an indigent” to the court. If the judge considers a person’s financial situation and finds them unable to afford the filing fees, the court will approve the request and waive the fees for the couple.
Another option to proceed with an inexpensive divorce is to choose an uncontested divorce and try to do-it-yourself and handle all your divorce-related issues without a costly lawyer from a law firm.
The filing spouse has to file a Complaint For Absolute Divorce, Domestic Civil Action Cover Sheet, and Civil Summons to proceed with an absolute divorce. Other forms required for the case will depend on the attendant circumstances and the complexity of the case.
To check what forms are needed, the spouses may contact the court’s clerk or use the online divorce service DivorceOnine.