Divorce in North Carolina
North Carolina law requires a one year separation before you can file for divorce. In addition, you or your spouse must be a legal North Carolina resident for at least six months before filing. If these criteria have been satisfied, you can file a lawsuit in District Court asking for a divorce.
Because North Carolina is a no fault divorce state, a one year separation is the only requirement for obtaining a divorce. During this time, the parties will typically attempt to resolve issues involving financial support, children and equitable distribution. These issues can be addressed through a separation agreement, a written agreement that serves as a private contract between spouses. Any claims relating to property division and alimony are lost if they are not resolved by separation agreement or court order prior to entry of the divorce judgment, or if there is not a lawsuit pending to resolve those claims filed at the time the divorce is granted. For this reason, many couples will wait until the completion of a separation agreement to file for divorce or will file a lawsuit to resolve other financial or children’s issues at the same time as filing for divorce.
In rare instances, a second option for divorce is available. North Carolina allows you to file for divorce if you have been legally separated for three years and believe that one spouse suffers from incurable insanity. This option is rarely used to obtain a divorce.
An experienced attorney can help you assess your options.
You should always consult with an attorney prior to signing any document presented to you by your spouse or your spouse’s attorney.
Annulment in North Carolina
Annulment is a process that voids a marriage, meaning it legally declares that the marriage never existed. A legal annulment is not the same as a religious annulment, which can only be granted by a church and has no effect on your legal marital status.
Grounds for annulment in North Carolina are very specific and limited. A bigamous marriage, where one spouse was already legally married to another living person, is automatically void and does not require a legal annulment although some parties choose to obtain an annulment for bigamy for paperwork purposes.
Other reasons that may be grounds to void a marriage include the spouses being closer in relation than first cousins, one spouse was physically impotent at the time of marriage, one spouse was mentally incompetent at the time of marriage, or one spouse was under the age of 16 at the time of marriage. A quick change of heart after a marriage, even the next day or week, is not grounds for an annulment.
The family law attorneys at WFLG can address these and other specific situations that could be considered grounds for annulment.