How Long Does It Take to Get Divorced in North Carolina?
By no means is North Carolina a “hurry-up-divorce” state.
Unlike Reno or Las Vegas, people don’t beat a path to Charlotte (or anywhere in North Carolina) to file for a quickie divorce.
While some may consider the NC divorce laws to be outdated, if not a bit paternalistic, it takes time to get divorced in North Carolina.
That’s true even for an uncontested divorce.
There are reasons for that, including meeting residency requirements, jurisdictional issues, local Rules of the Court, and the NC Rules of Civil Procedure.
Furthermore, an absolute divorce in North Carolina cannot, under the law, be granted by the Court until the parties have been legally separated for at least a year.
That is not to say there aren’t legal options available and important issues to resolve before a final divorce decree may be issued.
Nothing under the law requires you to remain living together with your spouse.
Indeed, failure to show a clear intent to remain separated and maintain a separate residence may further delay the process.
One would be remiss in failing to acknowledge the effects of anger, betrayal, and hurt feelings between the parties in slowing down the process.
Getting divorced can be a complicated, emotional affair.
Even modest marital estates with cooperative, well-meaning spouses can have ED – Equitable Distribution, Alimony, Support, Custody, and Post Separation Support issues to work through.Does North Carolina Require Filing for “Legal Separation?”
North Carolina does not require a formal “filing” that indicates the parties are legally separated and intend to get divorced.
In fact, many legal issues regarding child custody, visitation, child support, and PSS post separation support (formally known as temporary alimony) may be handled between the parties without formal legal filings or litigation.
How Long Will a Contested Divorce Take?
"We truly believe each case, like each client, is different. We care about what is important to you and your goals in getting divorce."
- Bill Powers, Charlotte Divorce Lawyer
North Carolina is comprised of 41 Judicial Districts, representing the 100 different counties in the state.
Divorce cases are heard in District Court by a District Court Judge and not by a jury.
There is no right to “trial by jury” in most family law matters, with one exception being lawsuits in Superior Court for heart balm torts including Alienation of Affection and Criminal Conversation.
District Court Judges handle matters involving juvenile court, DSS / CPS – Department of Social Services – Child Protective Services, criminal court, and certain civil matters.
Judges in District Court decide issues of alimony, custody, support, and equitable distribution, with appeals going directly to the NC Court of Appeals and thereafter the North Carolina Supreme Court, as appropriate.
Large jurisdictions like Charlotte, the 26th Judicial District in Mecklenburg County, have a substantial number of divorce filings on an annual basis.
The surrounding judicial districts including Union County (Monroe NC), District Court 20B, Iredell County (Statesville and Mooresville NC), Judicial District 22A, and Gaston County (Gastonia), District 27A also are responsible for a considerable number of Complaints for Divorce.
"How long something takes, once filed, is a function of court time, the complexity of the legal matters, and frankly, the reasonableness of the litigants."
- Bill Powers, Divorce Attorney
Once a formal Date of Separation is established, an absolute divorce may be granted one year later upon the proper filing of a Complaint for Divorce.
Both parties do not need to agree to getting divorced.
As such, one spouse saying, “I’m not giving you a divorce” has no legal authority or effect in North Carolina.
Once the jurisdictional requirements are set established, the Court may issue an Order granting the divorce.
That is not to say the non-moving party cannot slow down the process and/or make it unnecessarily burdensome.
Once a Complaint for Divorce (a lawsuit) has been filed, proper Service of Process must be effectuated on the opposing party.
That spouse thereafter has thirty (30) days to file responsive pleadings which may include things like:
- Answer to the Complaint
- Affirmative Defenses
Extensions to file responsive pleadings are commonly granted, thus resulting in additional time being granted to Answer and Counterclaim.
Thereafter, assuming the matter proceeds forward on a track necessitating litigation, the parties ordinarily conduct “discovery” that may involve depositions, interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and requests for admissions.
"If the married couple cannot agree on financial issues, the division of marital property, or child custody, litigation can take quite some time."
- Bill Powers, Charlotte Lawyer
Some hotly contested matters involving child support, child custody, and payment of alimony may be litigated for years.Charlotte Family Law Attorneys
Our law firm helps people in court. Bill Powers is a well-known courtroom lawyer and dedicated advocate.
Sometimes unreasonableness must be met with a very simple response: We’ll see you in court.
At the same time, very much appreciate the collaborative law approach, especially pertaining to matters involving child custody, support, and Equitable Distribution.
Matters need not and therefore should not be litigated in every instance.
"The best interests of the children and respective parties merit reasonableness and a concerted effort to work out potential conflict areas collaboratively, without litigation."
- Bill Powers, Charlotte Attorney
Call Bill Powers now to schedule a consultation: 704-342-4357
Consultation fees, retainers, and hourly rates DO APPLY to family law legal representation.
Free consultations and flat rate legal fees apply only to criminal defense, DWI charges, and personal injury litigation.
Before speaking with an attorney, we will confirm availability for representation, conduct a conflict-check, and advise potential clients of consultation fees, retainers, and projected hourly rates.