While the exact process for filing for divorce may vary by county, the basic six steps for filing for uncontested divorce are the same throughout NC.
An uncontested divorce case can be filed in North Carolina based upon a one-year separation and a six-month residency requirement. An uncontested divorce does not include allegations of fault such as adultery, abandonment, cruelty, indignities, etc… The court will not address allegations of fault at an uncontested divorce hearing. A divorce is only one part of the process of ending a marriage. A divorce hearing does not settle issues of alimony or property division. Filing for divorce before you settle those issues could mean that you lose the right to pursue those claims at a later date.
A divorce hearing does not settle issues of child custody or child support either. If these issues have not been resolved, you should consider retaining an attorney to help you through the divorce process.
The mechanics of divorce:
1. Draft the Divorce Complaint.
2. Verify the divorce complaint by signing it in front of a notary public. Remember, you or your spouse must have been a resident of NC for at least 6 months prior to filing for divorce. And you and your spouse must have been living separate and apart for one year.
3. File the divorce complaint and civil summons with the Clerk of Court. You will likely need at least 3 or 4 copies of these forms.
4. Serve the filed complaint and civil summons on your spouse by the sheriff or certified mail. If you serve your spouse by mail be sure to keep both the white mailing card and the green signature card.
5. Once your spouse has been served he/she has 30 days to file an answer to the complaint. Once 30 days have passed, you can contact the Clerk of Court and request a divorce hearing. You will need proof that your spouse has been served. For certified mail, this is the green signature card.
6. When you go to your divorce hearing on the court date you have selected, take a copy of the complaint and summons, the certificate of absolute divorce or annulment form (you will get a copy of this form from the clerk’s office when you initially file your divorce papers), and take 3 copies of the divorce judgment. If you served your spouse by certified mail you will also need to take an affidavit of service (get this form from the clerk’s office) by certified mail and the certified mail receipts.
At the hearing, the judge will sign all three copies of the divorce judgment. The court will keep one copy, you will get one copy and one copy is for your spouse. At this point, you are divorced. This means that you can live your life as a single person. Remember that issues of property, child custody, child support, and alimony are not decided by a divorce hearing and may be waived in not pursued beforehand. Also, if you want to go back to using your maiden name you should request this in the divorce complaint.
You will need a copy of the divorce judgment granting your name change request to take to the social security office, drivers license office, and bank to change your name on your documents.