I want a divorce, but my wife says she won’t give me one. What can I do?

Stop worrying. Your wife doesn’t get to veto your divorce. She doesn’t “give you” a divorce; only the North Carolina courts grant divorces.

Divorce in North Carolina is a no-fault system, called absolute divorce. The marriage can be dissolved when either spouse demands it, as long as the husband and wife have lived separate and apart for one year. This means that you must be living in a separate residence from your wife; it’s not sufficient if you share a house but sleep in separate bedrooms.

You (or your wife) must also have been a state resident for at least six months before you can begin a North Carolina divorce action.

The process begins with the filing of a petition for divorce at the district court in the county where you live, or where your wife lives. The court clerk will accept your paperwork, and in a matter of days your spouse will be notified that divorce proceedings are underway. She will then have 30 days to respond to this notice (with a possible extension to 60 days).

About the only defense your wife can make to deny you a divorce is proof that you have not been living separately for the required one-year period. In the majority of cases, the spouse does not respond to the filing and the divorce is granted within three months of the initial filing date.

Another provision in North Carolina family law allows for a legal action called divorce from bed and board. Unlike absolute divorce, the divorce from bed and board requires the plaintiffthe person starting the actionto prove that the other spouse (the defendant) performed some sort of misconduct. A successful action for divorce from bed and board does not end the marriage, but it imposes a legal separation on the couple. This can become a starting point for the required year of living separate and apart that is a required for absolute divorce.

The no-fault divorce in North Carolina can be simple enough for a couple to handle it cooperatively without attorneys. When there is disagreement between the spousesfor instance, in your caseyou are advised to retain the services of an experienced North Carolina divorce lawyer. The Wilmington divorce attorneys at Speaks Law Firm offer legal representation at reasonable prices. Call us today at 910-341-7570 or toll-free at 877-593-4233 to have your questions answered or to schedule a consultation.

R. Clarke Speaks
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Trial Lawyer and Founder of Speaks Law Firm, P.C.