When spouses have been living separate and apart from one another for a full year, either spouse may request from the court a judgment of final (or “absolute”) divorce. This represents the final divorce that legally ends the marriage.
Absolute Divorce in North Carolina
According to North Carolina law, there are two requirements for absolute divorce:
1) The spouses must have been living separate and apart for at least one full year with the intent on the part of at least one of them to end the marriage.
2) The party applying for the divorce must have been a citizen and resident of North Carolina for at least six months before asking for the divorce.
It is common for parties to have already resolved all of their substantive divorce-related issues – such as property settlement, future spousal support, and child custody and child support – prior to the entry of the absolute divorce. If these matters haven not been resolved, then claims must be filed in court before entering the divorce in order to preserve them.
If the parties have attorneys representing their interests in the divorce, it is not necessary for them to appear in court on the day their divorce is entered. Their attorney typically appears on their behalf in a summary judgment proceeding.
If a spouse chooses to handle his or her own divorce without an attorney, that individual will be required to appear before the judge to answer questions under oath related to the requirements for an absolute divorce.