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What Does Being in a No-Fault State Mean?

What Does Being in a No-Fault State Mean?

A fault-based divorce means there are grounds present that suggest one spouse is at fault for the ending of the marriage. In fault divorce states, grounds must exist and be proven in order to grant a divorce.

In a no-fault divorce state, these grounds do not have to exist.

Fault in NC Divorces

North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state. That means a couple can divorce without needing to prove one spouse did something wrong to cause the split. While some other states will allow couples to state grounds in order to end their marriage earlier, North Carolina only allows for a no-fault divorce.

The only grounds for divorce that are required by the state is that either spouse wishes to end the marriage. While grounds for divorce are not required in North Carolina, there are other requirements that couples must meet before they can file for an “absolute” divorce.

According to North Carolina law, these requirements include:

  • At least one year of separation between spouses

  • Either spouse must currently live in North Carolina and have lived in the state for at least six months before the divorce was filed

In order for the separation to be valid, both spouses must have been living in different homes, and at least one spouse intended for the separation to be permanent. The separation agreement must be in writing, signed by both parties, and both signatures must be notarized.

Exceptions to the Rule

Most divorces are filed as an “absolute” divorce. However, North Carolina does allow for a Divorce from Bed and Board (DBB), or a court-ordered separation. Not every couple can seek a DBB; they are only ordered under limited circumstances, and the spouse requesting the DBB can prove serious fault.

The court may grant a DBB, in cases where the following applies to either party:

  • One spouse abandons the other

  • One spouse throws the other out of their home

  • Domestic violence is involved

  • There is evidence of indignities

  • One spouse is an excessive user of alcohol or drugs

  • Adultery was committed

Once a DBB is ordered, all issues revolving separation and divorce will be made as if the divorce was voluntary. Additionally, couples who have a DBB will still have to be separated for one year and file for an absolute divorce before they can legally end their marriage.

If you have questions about filing for divorce in North Carolina, call Rech Law, P.C. today at (704) 659-0007.

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