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The Difference Between Divorce & Legal Separation in North Carolina

Ferguson Hayes Hawkins, PLLC Jan. 25, 2017

What is the Difference Between Divorce and Separation in North Carolina?

For those seeking divorce or separation from their spouse, it is important to understand the laws in North Carolina. North Carolina laws typically dictate that a couple be separated for one year. There are some instances where a couple will go through a legal separation before proceeding with a divorce. Divorce and separation in NC is a process that should be handled by an experienced attorney who understands divorce and separation laws in the state. A divorce or separation can be a stressful process, so contacting a Concord divorce attorney can help guide an individual though a separation or divorce.


According to North Carolina laws, a married couple must be separated for one year before they can file for divorce. In the event a couple reunites, then the time that was spent separated will be void if they separate recurrently.

A legal separation in North Carolina is when an individual needs a legal order to have his or her spouse leave the home before a divorce. The court order is called a divorce from bed and board, but this order does not legally end the marriage.

There are many reasons an individual may file for a legal separation, which include:

  • A spouse has committed adultery.

  • A spouse abuses drugs or alcohol.

  • A spouse causes danger to the other spouse.

A spouse who is having the order filed against him or her may choose to contest the allegations. When a legal separation is in place, a spouse may seek child support or alimony and child custody. If an individual is filing for a legal separation, then consulting an experienced Concord divorce attorney is vital.

Divorce in North Carolina

If an individual wants to file for divorce in NC, then he or she should understand that North Carolina is considered a no-fault divorce state, which allows couples to divorce with the absence of blame. A divorce in North Carolina can proceed when a couple has reached the one year separation period.

For those who want to file for divorce in NC, a judge’s order will be needed to complete the process. A judge will decide terms of child custody, child support, alimony, and other legal factors. When a judge signs the divorce order, the divorce is official. An attorney who specializes in divorce and separation in NC can guide an individual through the process, which will ease some of the stress accompanied with divorce.

If you want to know more about divorce and separation, then contact us! We have the legal expertise to help!