How to Get a Divorce in North Carolina Without Waiting a Year
Getting divorced is often a lengthy process, but in some cases it is possible to get a divorce in North Carolina faster than the state’s mandatory 12-month separation period. Here’s what you need to know about expediting your divorce in NC.
Grounds for Expedited Divorce in North Carolina
To qualify for an expedited or “emergency” divorce in NC, you must prove one of the following marital fault grounds:
If your spouse has left the marital home, discontinued all marital responsibilities, and lived separately for at least one year, you may claim abandonment. You’ll need evidence like changed mailing addresses, separate living arrangements, and testimony from friends/family.
To prove adultery, you’ll need evidence like testimony from the other man/woman, hotel receipts, eyewitness accounts, or private investigator photos. Circumstantial evidence is often sufficient.
Indignities involve cruel treatment that makes the marriage unbearable. This could include physical/emotional abuse, infidelity, addiction issues, or excessive conflict. Records like police reports, medical records, and counseling notes can help prove indignities.
In some cases, a separation agreement signed by both spouses allowing one party to file for divorce immediately upon separation may qualify as grounds for an expedited divorce.
Procedural Requirements for Expedited Divorce
To obtain a divorce in less than a year in NC, you must follow all of the state’s standard procedural divorce requirements:
To file for divorce in North Carolina, at least one spouse must have lived there for at least 6 months.
Filing the Complaint
You’ll need to file a verified complaint with the clerk of courts in a county where you or your spouse resides. This details your grounds for expedited divorce.
Serving Your Spouse
Your spouse must be officially served with the divorce papers, either through accepted service, certified mail, or publication.
Attending the Hearing
If your spouse doesn’t contest the divorce, a judge can grant it without a hearing. If contested, a hearing is required where evidence of grounds must be presented.
Tips for Preparing Your Case
To ensure your expedited divorce goes smoothly, be sure to:
Gather Evidence of Grounds
The more convincing evidence you have to prove your grounds for emergency divorce, the better. Photographs, written correspondence, receipts, statements from witnesses, and other documentation is extremely helpful.
Calculate Child Support
Using the North Carolina child support calculator, determine a reasonable support amount and be prepared to justify it. Child custody should also be addressed.
Prepare a Parenting Plan
Outline a detailed parenting schedule and plan for making major decisions regarding your children after divorce. The judge will want to see this plan.
Draft a Property Settlement
Decide how you want marital property, assets, and debts to be divided. Try to negotiate settlement terms with your spouse beforehand.
Alternatives to Expedited Divorce
If you don’t have adequate grounds for an emergency divorce, consider:
This provides legal protections and simplifies some divorce requirements if you later pursue an expedited divorce. However, you must still wait 12 months.
You can request interim financial support from your spouse during your separation period before finalizing divorce.
While getting a quick divorce in North Carolina is challenging, it is possible if you have evidence to prove marital fault grounds. Take time to gather a strong case and complete all procedural steps to ensure the court grants your expedited divorce request. With thorough preparation, you can successfully minimize your waiting period.
What if my spouse contests the divorce?
If your spouse contests the divorce, it will go to trial where you will need to present convincing evidence of your grounds for expedited divorce. Having ample evidence and documentation is key.
What about our children and assets?
You’ll need to propose child custody, support, and a property distribution plan. Be reasonable to show the judge you have thoroughly considered the logistics of divorce.
Do I need a lawyer for emergency divorce?
Hiring a divorce attorney is advisable for navigating urgent divorce timelines and requirements. However, it’s not legally required if you understand the process.
What if I can’t prove grounds for expedited divorce?
Without adequate grounds, you cannot obtain a divorce in under a year in NC. Consider other options like legal separation or seeking temporary spousal support.
What happens after my divorce is finalized?
After your divorce, documents outlining child custody, support, property division, and other settlement terms will be finalized. The court issues a certificate of divorce finalizing the process.