Uncontested Divorce NC

A divorce doesn’t have to end in a courtroom battle. When two divorcing spouses agree on the division of assets, alimony, child support, and other terms, they may resolve their issues by Separation Agreement and Property Settlement or by a Consent Order. This is often referred to as an uncontested divorce.[1] In North Carolina, it’s the quickest and, typically, the least expensive way to dissolve a marriage.

While more straightforward than a contested divorce, separating spouses will still benefit from the expertise, experience, and advice of a divorce lawyer throughout the process. An experienced divorce attorney can make suggestions you may not have thought of and can assist you with negotiating with your spouse or their lawyer.

What is An Uncontested Divorce in North Carolina?

In an uncontested divorce, both spouses agree on all terms about their marital rights, responsibilities, and obligations. In other words, neither spouse is contesting the terms in the Agreement or Order. Both are on the same page about:

Uncontested divorces are typically less expensive, less time-consuming, and way less stressful than contested divorces making them the preferred option for many couples.

Do I Need a Lawyer for an Uncontested Divorce?

On the surface, an uncontested divorce can seem like a smooth and seamless process. However, the situation can quickly become contentious if one spouse changes their mind about any of the terms.

Hiring a divorce lawyer is in your best interest if you’re going through a divorce, no matter the type. A lawyer will help you understand your rights and guide you through the divorce process. Divorce law is complex. A lawyer has the expertise and experience to ensure that all of the appropriate paperwork is completed and that your interests are represented.

Additionally, a lawyer will save you time so you can focus on the journey ahead. Divorce isn’t easy for anyone, even when it’s amicable. Having an experienced legal professional on your side can give you peace of mind and reduce the stress of the process.

Process for Absolute Divorce in North Carolina

In North Carolina, whether you have a contested or uncontested divorce, you must obtain an absolute divorce if you want to legally end your marriage. Couples wanting an absolute divorce must go through a multi-step process.

How to File for Uncontested Divorce in NC

After the required 1 year separation period, to officially start the divorce process, you must fill out and file the following forms:

These forms will be taken to the Clerk of Court in the county you are filing in. You’ll need to pay a filing fee as well.

Meeting the minimum residence requirements is necessary to obtain a divorce even if both spouses are in agreement. In North Carolina, one of the spouses must have lived in the state for at least six months, and spouses must have been living apart, in separate residences, for a full year with the intention of remaining permanently separated before filing for divorce. To initiate a divorce, a couple must file a divorce complaint with the family court. If both parties agree to the terms of the divorce, they can waive the 30-day waiting period after service of the divorce complaint and their right to file an answer. After submitting all the necessary paperwork, the court can finalize the absolute divorce.

Serving Your Spouse

Once the appropriate forms have been submitted to the court, a copy of the Summons and Complaint for Absolute Divorce will need to be served on your spouse.

Under North Carolina law, you are not allowed to serve the Summons and Complaint yourself. You have four options:

  • Acceptance of service. If your spouse is cooperative, you can mail the papers and have them fill out an Acceptance of Service. We recommend that this be signed in front of a Notary Public.
  • Have a sheriff deliver the documents. The sheriff can deliver the summons to your spouse’s residence or place of employment. If your spouse lives in another county, you will need to have a sheriff in their county deliver the documents.
  • Certified mail with return receipt requested. You will need to provide the court with a signed green card showing that the documents were delivered and complete an Affidavit of Service.
  • Sending by other approved carrier services. You may also use FedEx, UPS, DHL, and the like to deliver the Summons and Complaint. But like with certified mail, you must be able to prove your spouse received the documents and complete an Affidavit of Service.
  • Publication. If you have no idea where your spouse is living, you can serve them by publishing it in a newspaper. One that circulates in the area you last knew them to live in AFTER you have performed a due diligence search for them. However, this is done as a last resort because it can be time-consuming and costly.

Answer and Hearing Date

Once your spouse has been served, they will have 30 days to file an Answer. If your spouse agrees with all the statements made in your Complaint, they can waive their right to answer, they can answer admitting all your allegations, or they can simply not respond. If your spouse doesn’t agree with your allegations, you can expect to receive an Answer from them letting you know what they dispute.

The next step is to schedule a hearing. If there are no issues with service on your spouse and no disagreement that you have met all the requirements to obtain a divorce, then the Judge is likely to grant your absolute divorce. The Judge will sign a Divorce Judgment, and the Clerk will submit the Certificate for Absolute Divorce (DHHS 2089/Vital Records) you completed.

As you can see, even in the case of an uncontested and amicable divorce, the process is complex. A lawyer can help you understand each step, answer your questions and advise you on the best course of action to take. Mistakes, even during something “simple” like an absolute divorce, can be costly and inevitably end up making the process longer, meaning you have to wait to move on with your life.

While we help people at any stage in the process, it is a smoother process if you start with a lawyer as soon as possible. Also, a lawyer can file all the paperwork for you and schedule you for a summary judgment hearing if there are no disputes to the facts, which means you never have to set foot inside the courtroom to get your Divorce Judgment.

Finding the Best Uncontested Divorce Lawyer for You

Even with a “simple” divorce, it’s important to choose a lawyer you trust and one who will make the process as stress-free and straightforward as possible.

To find the best lawyer for you, consider:

  • Experience. How many years has the lawyer been practicing? An experienced lawyer will know how to handle challenges and obstacles you may face even with an uncontested divorce.
  • Expertise. Ideally, you want a lawyer who specializes in divorce.
  • Good fit. You want to make sure you feel at ease with your lawyer and will be comfortable asking them questions and bringing up issues.

Contact us today to learn more about our commitment to making the divorce process as seamless as possible for you.


1. For purposes of this article we are using “uncontested divorce” to mean there is no disagreement about property division, custody, and support.  This is different than when our Courts use the term “uncontested divorce” to mean there is no dispute about the parties’ separation being more than one year, the intent of at least one party for the separation to be permanent, and the fact that the separation has been permanent.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Is an uncontested divorce the same as an absolute divorce in North Carolina?

No. An uncontested divorce simply refers to when you and your spouse are in agreement on all terms of the absolute divorce. The only way to legally end a marriage in North Carolina is through an absolute divorce.

Can I file for divorce in North Carolina if I live out of state?

There are circumstances that can cause you and your spouse to live in separate states at the time you file for a divorce, such as work or military service. You can still file for divorce in North Carolina if you no longer live in the state. By law, only one spouse must have lived in North Carolina for six months, and you will need to file in the county in which your spouse resides. If the divorce is uncontested, the process will be easier when filing if you live out of state.

What if one spouse changes their mind after agreeing to an uncontested divorce?

In North Carolina, you can file for divorce even if the divorce is contested. If your spouse originally agreed to divorce but has since changed their mind, you can still move forward with a divorce. You and your spouse do not need to agree to divorce in order for you to begin the divorce process. However, you must still be separated for one year—living in separate homes—and one spouse must have lived in North Carolina for six months. Additionally, at least one of you must have had the intention for the separation to be permanent at the time you separated. We recommend that you reach out to a skilled North Carolina divorce attorney as soon as possible.

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