Divorce can be a difficult time for all parties involved. So what happens if one spouse does not agree to move forward with the divorce? People often think that both parties have to agree before a judge will grant a divorce. However, in North Carolina, all that is required to obtain a divorce for the parties to live separate and apart for one year, and one spouse forms the intent to live separate and apart from the other spouse. To be clear, the term “divorce” in North Carolina means only the legal ending of your marriage so that you can marry someone else, if you so choose. Divorce does not mean child custody, child support, spousal support, or property distribution. This article addresses only divorce. 

After a year of living separate and apart with the intent to live separate and apart, a party may file a complaint for divorce. The opposing party then has thirty (30) days to respond once he or she has been served with a copy of the Civil Summons and Complaint. If the opposing party does not respond to the Divorce Complaint within the allotted time period, he or she is considered to be in default and the divorce may proceed without that party’s input. In North Carolina, this is known as a “default divorce.” 

Overall, while one spouse’s refusal to move forward with a divorce cannot prevent you from obtaining a divorce in North Carolina, it has the potential to delay proceedings or make the process more complicated. Before moving forward with filing for divorce, you may want to speak with an experienced family law attorney to help understand all of your options as well as any ramifications from how you participate in the divorce process.  

If you or someone you know may have a situation where any of the above-mentioned situations are involved, contact Hatcher Law Group for a consultation with an experienced family law attorney to understanding your rights and options moving forward.