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NC Divorce Law: When One Spouse is Out of State or Military


Navigating the process of separation and divorce is always a bit thorny. But when one spouse has already moved out-of-state, the process can be even more complex. And because of the many military bases in North Carolina, couples in this state are more likely to face this unique situation, as families wade through the divorce process while one spouse is deployed or stationed out-of-state. This can be further complicated by the fact that North Carolina requires a one-year trial separation before allowing a couple to divorce.

If you find yourself in this complex situation, don't get overwhelmed. Our Raleigh-based lawyers at Doyle Divorce Law are here to help you. So let's walk through the process step by step.

1. Pre-Requisites for Divorce in North Carolina

In North Carolina you must live apart from your spouse for a full year before you can begin filing for divorce. You must have been a resident of North Carolina for at least 6 months prior to filing.

2. The Complaint

You're going to have quite a bit of paperwork to fill out. This is the first step for any Absolute Divorce in North Carolina. You can do this without your spouse present--for example, if they are in another state. Take the Complaint to a notary public to be verified. Make several copies of the Complaint.

3. File Your Complaint and Civil Summons with the Clerk of Court

This is another step you can do without having your spouse present. The Civil Summons is how you will alert your spouse in another state to the fact that you are filing for divorce.

4. Serve the Complaint and Civil Summons

This is the part of the process that is slightly more tricky when your spouse does not live in your same state. Because your spouse is not local, you will need to serve them the Complaint and Civil Summons. The Clerk of Court will help you serve your spouse via the Sheriff in his or her own state and county. If possible, you should set up a mutually agreed upon time and address for your spouse to be served. If the Sheriff arrives to serve your spouse and they are not there, this step must be done over and will cost money with each attempt. Alternatively, you can serve your spouse through Certified Mail. You will receive a copy of the white mailing card and green signature card to keep as proof that your spouse has been served. Your spouse will then have 30 days to respond to your Complaint.

5. Request a Divorce Hearing

Once your 30 days have past, you will be able to ask the Clerk of Court to set up a Divorce Hearing. Be sure to bring proof that your spouse has been served, such as the green signature card you received through Certified Mail.

Since your spouse may not be able to attend the Divorce Hearing with you, as he or she may be out-of-state, you will need to take a copy of:

  • The Complaint and the Civil Summons
  • proof you served your spouse
  • a Certificate of Absolute Divorce given to you by the Clerk of Court
  • and 3 copies of the Divorce Judgement

You will also need to bring your Affidavit of Service if you served your spouse through Certified Mail, which you can receive from the Clerk of Court. Our Raleigh divorce lawyers suggest, if you choose do-it-yourself divorce, to keep all your divorce paperwork together in a folder so you're certain to have everything you need. You don't want to forget an important document and have to start all over again!

The Judge will sign all three copies of your Divorce Judgement: One for the court, one for your records, and one to mail to your spouse.

These are Just the Basic Steps

Don't forget that these are just the very basic steps of filing for Absolute Divorce in North Carolina when your spouse is out-of-state. There will still be dividing of assets, figuring out child custody, and determining alimony and child support, all of which can be complicated when your spouse is not in the same state as you.

For these reasons, we highly suggest hiring a Raleigh-based divorce lawyer who can sit down with you locally and help you through the process. We'll manage most of these steps for you, so all you have to do is sign the paperwork -- you can skip all these trips back and forth to the Wake County Court House and confusing paperwork and make sure your divorce is handled quickly and accurately. We can also protect your assets and ensure your division of assets and child custody has your best interests at heart.

Let Our Raleigh Divorce Lawyers Help You

Going through a divorce is stressful and complicated. Let our team help make the process as easy as possible for you and your ex-spouse, while safeguarding your legal rights, equity of asset distribution, alimony, child custody, and child support. Schedule a consultation or give us a call to take the next step towards the rest of your life. Don't stress. We are here to help you.

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