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Absolute Divorce

If you are interested in obtaining a divorce from your spouse in North Carolina, you must be separated for at least one full year. The term “separated” is a legal term of art and means that you must live separate and apart from your spouse and there must be no resumption of your relationship for the entire year of separation. Therefore, sleeping in separate bedrooms in the same home does not qualify as a legal separation under North Carolina law. Similarly, if you are living apart, but are considering reconciliation and resume your marital relationship, the year requirement of separation starts over again from the beginning.

In North Carolina, the term “absolute” divorce signifies the end of a marriage so that all rights and obligations of spouses not preserved by court order, agreement, or pending action are ended. The only claims that are never waived with a decree of absolute divorce are matters involving children- like child custody and alimony. For example, if a divorce decree is obtained before a claim for equitable distribution or a claim for alimony is asserted, those causes of action will most probably be considered waived by a North Carolina Court.

In order to file for absolute divorce in North Carolina, the six-month residency of one party to the action is required. North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state and separation with the intent of one party to end the marital relationship is all that is required. Therefore, if you want a divorce but your spouse does not, you are entitled to an absolute divorce under North Carolina law.

Just because you cannot file for absolute divorce until after one full year of separation, there are plenty of other causes of action you can pursue within that first year. For example, child custody, child support, postseparation support, equitable distribution, among others.

It is important to contact an attorney to discuss in detail all your possible causes of actions and statutes of limitations, as you want to preserve all rights and claims that you are entitled to under the applicable family law statutes of North Carolina.

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