Overview of Divorce in North Carolina

There are several intricacies to divorce law in North Carolina—it is important to understand at least the basics before going through with filing for divorce.

Grounds for Divorce

Judges will grant divorce in North Carolina if any of these conditions are met:

  • A couple has been living apart (separately) for one year or more.
  • A couple has been living apart (separately) for three years or more because one spouse is incurably insane.
  • One member of the couple abandons the family.
  • One spouse forces the other out of the house maliciously.
  • One spouse endangers the life of the other through cruel or barbarous treatment.
  • One member of the couple makes the other's life intolerable due to treating with indignity.
  • One spouse excessively uses drugs and/or alcohol.
  • One member of the couple commits adultery.

Property Distribution in North Carolina

Courts in North Carolina divide property equitably. This means that there is an equal division by using the net values of marital property and divisible property; however, this does not mean that the division is necessarily equal in monetary value. North Carolina courts will consider several factors when deciding property distribution:

  • Each spouse's income, property, and liabilities
  • Obligations each spouse may have from prior marriages regarding support
  • Duration of the marriage
  • Needs of a spouse with custody of children versus the needs of the other spouse
  • Future expectations of either spouse in regards to pensions and retirement funds
  • Contributions of each spouse toward property acquisition
  • Contribution of a spouse toward education of another spouse

Spousal Support or Alimony

In North Carolina, either spouse can petition for alimony. Of course, the courts will only grant alimony under certain circumstances. Here are some of the factors the courts take into consideration for spousal support:

  • Marital misconduct by either spouse (post-separation misconduct may be looked upon as supporting evidence for misconduct alleged to have taken place during the marriage)
  • Earnings (current, as well as earning capacities) of each spouse
  • Unearned income of each spouse—such as insurance, retirement savings, and pensions
  • Standard of living established throughout the marriage to which each spouse has become accustomed
  • Ability of each spouse to find employment to meet his or her financial needs
  • Relative needs of each of the spouses, especially if one is the caretaker of children
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