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What Happens During the 30 Days After You Receive a Complaint for Divorce in NC?

A couple files a complaint for divorce in North Carolina.

When you get a divorce in North Carolina, you might think that the hard part is over. After all, you’ve made the decision to end your marriage and have come up with a specific legal plan for doing so. You’ve hired attorneys, are now separated, and even signed divorce papers using phrases like “irretrievably broken,” and “utterly irreconcilable.” What more could go wrong?

Let’s take a look at what happens during the 30 days after you receive a complaint for divorce in North Carolina, until a divorce decree. Understanding this process is an important part of getting ready to end your marriage.

The 30 Day Waiver Divorce

North Carolina law states that when one spouse files a divorce complaint, you have 30 days to resolve all issues. Those could be financial matters such as property and debt, and child custody and visitation. If you can’t agree on all issues during this 30-day waiting period, divorce laws order mediation.

If you and your spouse come to a settlement agreement, you’ll be ordered to appear at a hearing with a set court date. At the hearing, the judge will review your agreement. If the judge approves it, the judge will sign the official order ending your marriage. If you don’t resolve all issues during the 30-day waiting period, you’ll have to go to mediation. At mediation, you’ll have an opportunity to reach a settlement with your spouse.

The North Carolina Divorce Residency Requirement

To be able to start the divorce action, apart from physical separation for more than one year, at least one spouse needs to be a resident of North Carolina for at least six months.

Why is there a 30-Day Waiting Period?

The 30-day separation period was designed to give divorcing couples time to reach a separation agreement. It is a required waiting period during which the married couple has lived separately.

The waiting period is the time between the beginning of the divorce proceedings and the time the divorce was granted.

Waiting periods are also meant to give couples time to change their minds. North Carolina recognizes that nothing is set in stone when it comes to divorce. Waiting for 30 days gives you time to calm down and think about whether this divorce is really what you want.

What is Absolute Divorce

An absolute divorce is a complete termination of a marriage. In the United States, you can only get an absolute divorce if you meet certain criteria.

In North Carolina, a divorce is considered absolute if one of two grounds is met. One is that one of the spouses incurable insanity for at least three years, a condition that is rarely cited in divorce proceedings nowadays. Another is a one year separation.

In order to decide if there is any doubt as to whether the couple was actually apart for at least one year, the court will consider the "totality of the facts." Even if there are isolated incidents of sexual intercourse between the couples during the separation time, it does not always constitute a violation of the separation period.

The Divorce Hearing

At the divorce hearing, the judge will review your divorce agreement. If you’ve agreed on everything, you’ll get an official order ending your marriage. If you and your spouse don’t have an agreement, the judge will ask you to mediation.

Mediation is a process where an impartial third party (such as an attorney) works with both parties to try to reach an agreement. If you and your spouse can’t come to an agreement during mediation, the judge will review your case and make a decision based on the facts of your case. Only then can divorce judgement be made.

Division of Property

In North Carolina, both parties will have the chance to come to an agreement on how to divide your property as part of your divorce proceedings. If you and the other party cannot agree on an equitable distribution, the judge will have to step in and make a ruling after considering certain factors.

Thes ruling factors in the length of your marriage, both spouses’ financial situations, the ages of each spouse, your health, and any history of domestic violence between the two of you.

Division of Debt and Other Assets

As part of your divorce actions, you will have an opportunity to address any debts that you and your spouse acquired during your marriage. This will include your credit card bills, car loan, student loan, and mortgage.

In North Carolina, you can decide how to divide these debts and assets. If, however, you cannot come to an agreement, the court's office will decide for you. If you have co-signed a loan with your spouse, the loan will be assumed to be a joint debt. This means that you will be responsible to the lender along with your spouse.

Child support and Visitation rights

If the married couple had children, you must decide how to divide child custody and visitation between the two of you. If you cannot agree, the court will decide instead of you.

As part of the divorce proceedings, the partner who is not the custodian of the child(ren) will be paying child support. The amount of alimony (or spousal support) you receive will be dictated by North Carolina law.

These laws assume that both you and your spouse earn an average wage. If one or both of you make significantly more or less than this average wage, the court will take this into consideration when calculating the alimony you must pay.


If you are getting divorced in North Carolina, you have a lot to think about in the lead-up to receiving your spouse’s complaint document for divorce. Filing for divorce means you will have to decide how to divide your property and debts, child custody and visitation rights, and how to manage child support payments. While this can be a stressful process, you can get help from The Doyle Law Group.

Our attorney client relationship ensures that confidential or sensitive information will not be disclosed to the other spouse. To learn more about how we can help you, schedule a consultation via the form below, or call (919) 301-8843, and a member of our team will happily assist you.

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