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How and Where is a Divorce Complaint Filed in North Carolina?

Although North Carolina allows for no-fault divorces that make the proceedings much easier than having to state a reason or assign blame, the divorce filing process is not as simple as one might believe. This is especially true when it comes to filling out and filing the proper paperwork. In North Carolina, the only requirements a couple must meet in order to file for Absolute Divorce is to have been separated for one consecutive year and for one spouse to have lived in North Carolina for at least six months. Once these conditions are met, you must then fill out the required paperwork and go through the necessary steps to move your divorce proceeding forward before finalizing it.

At Marshall & Taylor PLLC, we know going through a divorce can be an emotionally taxing ordeal. Not only are you dealing with the stresses of the divorce proceeding, but you’re also coming to grips with a failed marriage and a drastic change in your life. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through this alone. The Raleigh divorce paperwork lawyers at Marshall & Taylor PLLC can handle your case every step of the way, making sure you fill out and file all paperwork on time so you can focus on your own well-being. Contact our offices today by calling 919-833-1040 and speak with a skilled legal representative about your rights and options.

Divorce Paperwork

There are a number of forms involved in a divorce proceeding. Along with filing paperwork for divorce, it’s important to remember that if you are seeking any decisions on child custody, alimony, division of assets, or child support, you must file for those before filing for divorce to avoid losing rights. All the divorce forms will have blanks for “plaintiff” and “defendant” and some have to be signed in front of a Notary Public before they can be completed and delivered to your spouse. The forms you should know about include:

  • Complaint: Because a divorce is a type of lawsuit, you must file a complaint at your County Clerk’s office detailing who is seeking the divorce and asking for a judge to grant you a divorce.
  • Verification: A document signed and notarized that verifies the complaint is legitimate.
  • Civil Summons: This document identifies the spouse you are serving divorce papers to and seeking a divorce from. If the sheriff’s department serves the papers, you must also file a “Notice of Assignment Card,” or, if you choose to mail the complaint, you must fill out an “Affidavit of Service by Certified Mail.”
  • Judgment: This is the legal document that grants your divorce request. After receiving this, you must go back to the clerk’s office and file it.

It’s important to make sure you do not sign forms that require notarization until you are in front of a Notary Public. You should also make two copies of every form to ensure you have a copy for yourself. An experienced divorce attorney can make sure you fill out and file all forms correctly, making the process as smooth as possible.

Divorce Process

After filling out and submitting the proper paperwork, the divorce proceedings go through various stages before being finalized. Those include the following:

  • Separation: The entire process begins with a physical separation apart from your spouse for at least one year. This is the stage where child custody, alimony, and other decisions are resolved and addressed in a separation agreement.
  • Filing: After a year, you can legally file and serve the divorce complaint, verification, and civil summons, and the corresponding fees, with your local County Clerk’s office.
  • Service: You cannot legally serve your spouse the divorce complaint in person. It can only be done by certified mail, in person through a sheriff’s deputy, or by publishing a notice in the local newspaper. After your spouse has been served, you must wait 30 days before scheduling a hearing. During this time your spouse can file an answer to your complaint in the event they want to contest it.
  • Hearing: A judge will hear your divorce and submit a judgment officially granting your marriage dissolution. If there are still disputes between both parties, they can be addressed during this hearing where the judge will hear both arguments and make a decision in the final divorce order.
  • Finalized: After the divorce is entered by the judge, you will file three copies of the document at the Clerk of Court’s Office. If you want to restore your previous surname, you can begin that process by filing another certified copy of the judgment with the Social Security Administration.

Because the divorce process is so involved and can also be an emotionally stressful or heated process, it’s a good idea to consult with a divorce attorney as soon as possible to ensure you not only follow the proper steps but that you reach your desired outcome.

Contact Us Today

The Raleigh divorce lawyers at Marshall & Taylor PLLC have the experience and the heart to help individuals just like you pursue and finalize the best solution to dissolve their marriage and move on with their lives. This is not an easy process and requires a legal representative with the resources and stamina to see it through to the end. To schedule a free consultation and begin your divorce proceedings, contact us today by calling 919-833-1040.


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