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What Happens When One Spouse Doesn't Want a Divorce in North Carolina?

Divorce is often a difficult, emotional, and complicated process at the end of a relationship. Despite the reasons why you may be seeking a divorce, your partner may not agree, or be unwilling to go along with the process.

No matter what, you deserve the resources and tools you need to move forward in life with confidence. In this blog, we outline your options for separation if one spouse doesn’t want a divorce in North Carolina. Keep reading to learn more.

Understand North Carolina’s Unique Divorce Laws

The State of North Carolina allows for no-fault divorce. A no-fault divorce in North Carolina requires that spouses have been separated for at least one year and one day before filing for what the law calls “absolute divorce.” A couple is eligible for absolute divorce when they have been living in different homes for one year and a day, and at least one spouse began the separation with the intention of permanent separation.

Even after the separation, an unwilling spouse still does not need to agree to the divorce for it to be legal. An unwilling spouse is not required to complete or sign any paperwork, go to court for a hearing, or file any paperwork with the court.

The one requirement, however, is that your spouse must receive proper legal notice of the divorce case that you file. This means that your spouse must be properly served with the paperwork related to the divorce before it can be made final.

What Divorce Papers Do Separating Couples Need in North Carolina?

Divorce is paperwork intensive. If you’re ready to initiate the divorce process, here’s what you need to file:

  • A complaint: This document should state your case and your request for a divorce. If you intend to ask for spousal support or property division, these requests and supporting facts must be included in the complaint. The Mecklenburg County Courthouse provides forms for an absolute divorce. If you believe your spouse will be difficult or your case involves additional claims, you may want to consult an attorney.
  • A summons: This document tells your spouse how long they have to respond to your complaint. If they fail to respond to the summons, your spouse won’t be able to have a say in the divorce proceedings.
  • A Domestic Civil Action Sheet: This document provides details about your complaint and your divorce case.
  • A Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act affidavit: The law requires that you file an Affidavit stating whether or not your spouse has been in the military. The purpose of this is to protect the rights of servicemembers who may be stationed away from home and unable to respond to a lawsuit.

Navigating the divorce process can be difficult, especially if you’re also dealing with the logistics of child support, child custody, alimony, and emotional pitfalls. The team at Myers Law Firm has handled divorce cases for over 60 combined years, and are ready to support you though the process.

What Happens if Your Spouse Ignores the Divorce Proceedings

If your spouse ignores the paperwork, they do so at their own peril. You may file a Motion for Summary Judgment and proceed with the divorce anyway. You will still have to wait the applicable time periods and schedule a hearing, but the hearing may not require anyone to appear. The judge will just review the file to make sure all the paperwork is in the proper order.

RELATED ARTICLE: Equitable Distribution—What Does “Marital Property” Mean in Property Division Cases?

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Myers Law Firm: North Carolina’s Trusted Divorce Attorneys

There are many factors to consider if you are pursuing a divorce in North Carolina. When you need to make a big life change, having an experienced, empathetic family law attorney on your side can make a world of difference.

Our law office has over 60 years of combined experience handing all types of divorce cases, from the extremely complex to relatively straightforward. We know how difficult the process can be, which is why we treat every client and their family with the respect and dignity they deserve.

To learn more about how our family law firm can help you through a separation and divorce, especially if your spouse doesn’t want to end your marriage, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Get started by calling (888) 376-2889 or by filling out this brief online form to schedule your free consultation with a divorce lawyer and get trustworthy legal advice about what to do next.


North Carolina Judicial Branch.  (2021). Separation and Divorce. Retrieved from https://www.nccourts.gov/help-topics/divorce/separation-and-divorce

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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