The general rule is that you should file for divorce in the county where either you or your spouse currently live. There are, however, many situations in which people have questions, despite that seemingly simple rule.
North Carolina family law attorneys can talk with you about your situation and formulate a strategy for how to get your divorce properly filed, your spouse served, and the case completed.
Filing in the County Where You or Your Spouse Currently Live
As stated, people usually file for divorce either in the county where the petitioner lives or the county where the defendant lives. So, if you live in County A and your spouse lives in County B, you could file for divorce in either County A or B.
There are additional things that must happen before you can file for divorce, however. Also, you will have to meet North Carolina’s residency requirement to be allowed to file for divorce here.
North Carolina’s Residency Requirement
If you and your spouse just moved to North Carolina yesterday, you are not allowed to go to the courthouse today and file for divorce. North Carolina does not have jurisdiction over your divorce case until at least one of you has been living here for at least six months.
Can You Get a Divorce if Your Spouse Does Not Live in North Carolina?
Yes, you can get a “simple” absolute divorce in North Carolina even if your spouse does not live here, as long as you have lived in this state for at least six months immediately before filing and currently live here. If you and your spouse used to live in North Carolina during the marriage and your spouse moved away to a different state, you can usually also ask the court for spousal support and property distribution.
Does North Carolina Require a Separation Period?
Yes, North Carolina law requires spouses to be separated from each other for at least one year and one day before either spouse is allowed to file for divorce. Depending on your situation, you could testify in court under oath about the length of your separation.
If you have a signed separation agreement that shows the date as being at least one year and one day before you filed for divorce, the court could view that as evidence. Also, other witnesses or documents could establish the date of your separation.
What Happens if My Spouse Is in the Military?
Active-duty service members have specific rights under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). You will have to sign an affidavit and submit it with the petition informing the court about whether your spouse is on active duty in the military.
Sometimes, a service member stationed out of state or out of the country can delay the divorce case. The purpose of the SCRA is to allow active-duty service members to focus on their military duties without the distraction of getting sued back at home. Procedural matters like where to file and how to obtain service on your spouse are highly technical. You will want to work with North Carolina family law attorneys to make sure your case does not get dismissed on procedural grounds. Get in touch with our office today for legal help.