Questions About Divorce?

Q: What is an absolute divorce?
A: An absolute divorce is the legal term to describe the termination of a marriage by a judge.

Q: What are the grounds for obtaining a divorce?
A: In order to be granted a divorce, you must be physically separated from your spouse for one year with the intent for the separation to be permanent and without having resumed the marital relationship.

Q: What is the procedure for obtaining a divorce?
A: While obtaining divorce may not be overly complex, there are certain procedures that need to be followed: 1. One party must file a written Complaint alleging all of the grounds for a divorce with the District Court in the county in which one of the parties lives. 2. One of the parties must be a resident of North Carolina for at least six (6) months prior to filing the divorce action. 3. You must serve the other party with a copy of the written Complaint and Summons. You may do so by having the Sheriff deliver it, sending it certified mail, return receipt requested, or by having your spouse sign and Acceptance of Service Affidavit. 4. If your spouse does not file an Answer contesting the divorce within thirty (30) days of being served, you or your attorney may go ahead and put the matter on a calendar for a judge to grant your divorce. 5. If all of the paperwork is in order, the judge will sign a Divorce Judgment granting your divorce.

Q: Do you have to be present at the divorce hearing?
A: In most cases, the parties are not present at the divorce hearing. The hearing can often be conducted based on the paperwork provided to the Court prior to the hearing.

Q: Do you have to be legally separated before obtaining a divorce?
A: No. A divorce is simply a document terminating the marriage. Although there is no requirement that you be legally separated before obtaining a divorce, there may be other good reasons for entering a legally-binding separation agreement at the time that you separate, particularly when custody, alimony or equitable distribution issues are still undecided. You should seek advice from a lawyer before obtaining a divorce on your own.


Alimony is an award of support that the court may order one spouse to pay to the other following a divorce. The purpose of an alimony award is to address any shortfall that may exist between expenses and income of a dependent spouse, to the extent the supporting spouse has the ability to address it. Alimony may be awarded for a specified period of time, or it may be indefinite absent an event cutting off the dependent spouse’s rights, such as remarriage. The court will make specific findings of fact with regard to the couple’s standard of living during the marriage, as well as the relative ability of the spouses to maintain that standard of living separately following the divorce.

Considerations for the support award may include the supporting spouse’s ability to pay, including his or her employment and assets; the dependent spouse’s earning capacity; contributions by the dependent spouse to the supporting spouse’s education, training, and career during the marriage; the age and health of the parties; and the duration of the marriage, among many other factors. Unlike in the divorce itself, issues of fault may be introduced in an action for alimony as a factor for the court to consider. An action for alimony must be instituted prior to a final entry of divorce.

If you have any further questions, be sure to contact our divorce lawyer today!
For advice regarding divorce or family law, call 336-747-9800!
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