When a marriage ends and one or both spouses live in North Carolina, the criteria for obtaining a divorce is relatively straightforward. The state only recognizes no-fault divorce, which the court will grant after the couple has been living separately for at least one year. In cases of adultery, abandonment or abuse, the court can waive this separation requirement.

But how do you get started? Filing for divorce in North Carolina can be complicated and require you to jump through a lot of hoops. Here are just a couple of the steps involved.

Required documents

Documents must be filed in the county where you or your spouse has lived for at least six months. These documents include a written complaint requesting a divorce and stating the facts of your case. This must also include requests for property division, spousal support, child custody and child support, if applicable. Additionally, a summons, an affidavit that states whether or not your spouse is in the military, a domestic civil action cover sheet and the court filing fee. If these documents are not filed out correctly, there may be big problems later on. This is why many people hire lawyers to help them with their divorces.

Spousal notification

After filing the necessary documents, the county clerk will schedule your divorce hearing. A sheriff or professional process server must be hired to deliver the summons and complaint to your spouse. This can be difficult if your soon-to-be-ex has skipped town. In certain situations, the documents can be sent by certified mail.

Do you know which type of divorce you need?

A simple divorce does not involve property division, spousal support or child custody and support. At the hearing, you must testify under oath that the facts in your divorce complaint are correct. You may receive a copy of the divorce judgment on the same day, which legally dissolves your marriage.

An uncontested divorce means that you and your spouse agree on spousal support, property division and child custody issues. The judge will review your divorce agreement and determine that it satisfies state law.

A contested divorce occurs when you and your spouse do not agree on one or more of these issues. In this case, you can ask the court to divide your property and determine spousal support and/or child custody and support.

Don’t rush the process if you don’t have to

No matter which process you follow, make certain that you don’t walk away from your marriage without a fight. You deserve certain assets and time with your kids. While you want to end things quickly, moving too fast may keep you from all to which you are entitled.