Many divorces result from marital misconduct, such as cheating, abuse, or abandonment. But not every marriage ends this way. In many states, like North Carolina, couples can choose to file for a no-fault divorce, where neither spouse has to prove that the other person did something wrong.
While no grounds are needed for a no-fault divorce, one of the spouses must still file an absolute divorce lawsuit and serve the divorce papers to their partner. An absolute divorce will terminate the marriage and all corresponding rights and benefits.
It is important to keep in mind that an absolute divorce does not settle issues such as property division or alimony. These issues need to be worked out before the divorce is finalized.
Requirements for no-fault divorce
In North Carolina, there are only two major requirements when filing for an absolute divorce:
- Physically separating for at least a year
No papers need to be filed or signed to start the separation period. Couples only need to live apart from each other with the purpose of ending their marriage and then keep track of when they did so.
Living apart requires living in separate residences. It is acceptable for the couple to see each other at times as they may need to discuss matters as long as they do not move back in together. Otherwise, the separation period will start over.
- Establishing North Carolina residency six months before filing
As long as one spouse stays in North Carolina, it is acceptable for the other spouse to relocate to another state. If both spouses have left North Carolina, the couple cannot file a no-fault divorce unless at least one of them moves back to live in the state for six months.
Does a no-fault divorce require a lawyer?
People can petition for a divorce on their own, but many choose to work with a lawyer, even though it is not required, to ensure the process goes smoothly. Divorce is a difficult and emotionally draining process, but working with an attorney can help lessen some of the stress that comes with it.
Furthermore, a divorce might raise other legal concerns, such as property division, child custody, or spousal support. Those facing these issues may better assert their legal rights by having an attorney on their side.