Divorce Law North Carolina


The laws concerning Divorce and alimony in North Carolina, is governed by Chapter 50 of North Carolina General Statute.


The following may be considered as the grounds of divorce:

  1. No fault
  2. General
  1. No fault Ground

The no-fault grounds spouse living separate and apart without cohabitation for 1 year as a result of irretrievable breakdown.

  1. General Ground
    1. Where a husband and wife have lived separate and apart for three consecutive years, without cohabitation, and are still so living separate and apart by reason of the incurable insanity of one of them, the court may grant a decree of absolute divorce upon the petition of the sane spouse.
    2. Incurable mental illness based on examinations for 3 years.


The court may grant divorces from bed and board on application of the party injured, made as by law provided, in the following cases if either party:

  1. Abandons his or her family.
  2. Maliciously turns the other out of doors.
  3. By cruel or barbarous treatment endangers the life of the other.
  4. Offers such indignities to the person of the other as to render his or her condition intolerable and life burdensome.
  5. Becomes an excessive user of alcohol or drugs so as to render the condition of the other spouse intolerable and the life of that spouse burdensome.
  6. Commits adultery


There are no legal provisions in North Carolina for simplified divorce procedures. However, premarital and marital property settlement agreements are specifically recognized as valid. The payment or non-payment of alimony may be the subject of a marital settlement agreement.


If child custody is a contested issue, the court may order the parents to submit to mandatory mediation of that issue.


"Alimony" means an order for payment for the support and maintenance of a spouse or former spouse, periodically or in a lump sum, for a specified or for an indefinite term, ordered in an action for divorce, whether absolute or from bed and board, or in an action for alimony without divorce.

Alimony may be awarded to either of the spouses after considering the following factors

  1. the standard of living established during the marriage;
  2. the comparative financial resources of the spouses, including their comparative earning abilities in the labor market and their incomes;
  3. the mental, physical, and emotional conditions of the spouses;
  4. the marital misconduct of the spouses;
  5. the ages of the spouses;
  6. the contribution of 1 spouse to the education, training, or earning power of the other spouse;
  7. the effect of a spouse having primary custody of a child;
  8. the relative education of the spouses and the time necessary for a spouse to acquire sufficient education or training to become self-sufficient;
  9. the contribution of a spouse as a homemaker;
  10. the tax consequences; and
  11. any other factor the court deems just and equitable. The court may require bond for security for the alimony payments. Alimony may not be paid to the spouse committing adultery.


Both parents are primarily responsible for the support of a minor child and either parent may be ordered to pay child support. The factors that may be taken into consideration by the court awarding child support are:

  1. the needs of the child;
  2. the earnings, estate, conditions, and accustomed standard of living of the child and the parents;
  3. the childcare and homemaker contributions of each parent; and
  4. any other relevant factors.

The child support payments may require to be paid through the clerk of the court. Income withholding may be used if child support payments become delinquent. The child support obligations may require to be secured by a bond or mortgage. The court may require that a parent shall provide health insurance coverage for a child.


Joint or sole child custody is determined according to promote the best interest and welfare of the child. There is no presumption that either parent is better suited to have custody. No other factors for consideration are specified in the statute.

  1. In making the determination, the court shall consider all relevant factors including
  2. acts of domestic violence between the parties,
  3. the safety of the child, and
  4. the safety of either party from domestic violence by the other party

An order for custody must include findings of fact which support the determination of what is in the best interest of the child. Between the mother and father, whether natural or adoptive, no presumption shall apply as to who will better promote the interest and welfare of the child. Joint custody to the parents shall be considered upon the request of either parent.

Any order for custody shall include such terms, including visitation, as will best promote the interest and welfare of the child. If the court finds that domestic violence has occurred, the court shall enter such orders that best protect the children and party who were the victims of domestic violence.

An order for custody of a minor child may provide visitation rights for any grandparent of the child as the court, in its discretion, deems appropriate.

An order for custody of a minor child may provide for such child to be taken outside of the State, but if the order contemplates the return of the child to this State, the judge may require such person to give bond or other security conditioned upon the return of the child.


North Carolina is an "equitable distribution" state. The separate property is not distributed and retained by the spouse who owns it, which may include:

  1. any property acquired before the marriage;
  2. any gifts and inheritances acquired during the marriage;
  3. any property acquired in exchange for separate property; and
  4. any increase in the value of separate property,

Marital property (property acquired by either or both spouses during the marriage and before the separation, including any pension or retirement fund benefits) will be divided equally unless the court finds that an equal division is not fair.

While making the order for distribution of the marital property the court may consider the following factors:

  1. any direct or indirect contributions to the career or education of the other spouse;
  2. any depletion or waste of property;
  3. the net value of the property;
  4. the liquid or non-liquid character of the property;
  5. the contribution of each spouse to the acquisition of the marital property, including the contribution of each spouse as homemaker;
  6. the economic circumstances of each spouse at the time the division of property is to become effective;
  7. any increase or decrease in the value of the separate property of the spouse during the marriage or the depletion of the separate property for marital purposes;
  8. the length of the marriage;
  9. the age and health of the spouses;
  10. the federal income tax consequences of the court's division of the property;
  11. liabilities of the spouses;
  12. any retirement benefits, including social security, civil service, military and railroad retirement benefits;
  13. any prior alimony or child support obligations of each spouse;
  14. the desirability of the spouse with custody of any children occupying the marital residence; and
  15. any other factor necessary to do equity and justice between the spouses.