To be eligible for a divorce in North Carolina, you must satisfy two requirements: (1) you or your spouse must have been a resident of North Carolina for at least six months prior to filing for divorce; and (2) you must have been separated from your spouse for at least one year with the intent to remain separated permanently.
The first requirement, residency, means that you or your spouse must have been present in North Carolina for at least six months prior to filing for divorce and with the intent that North Carolina is your permanent state of residency. If you or your spouse do not have a residence in North Carolina (whether rented, owned or another person’s home that you stay in) then you cannot meet the first prong of the residency requirement. In other words, you cannot intend for North Carolina to be your permanent state of residency if you have no place in North Carolina to live. On the other hand, you do not necessarily have to be present in the state for the entire six months prior to filing as long as you intend to return to North Carolina if you leave temporarily.
The second requirement, one year separation, means that you and your spouse live separate and apart for one year and not resume the marital relationship. It requires that when you separate, at least one of you intends for the separation to be permanent. This protects against, for example, situations where one spouse leaves temporarily (such as for an extended period for a job, military service etc.) but with no intention on the part of either party that this is a permanent separation. If there have been isolated incidents of sexual relations between you and your spouse during the separation, this does not necessarily defeat the one year separation and require that the one year start over.
As with any other issues arising from your separation or divorce, you should discuss these issues with a North Carolina Family Law Specialist. Feel free to contact me, Monty Beck, Western North Carolina Family Law Specialist to discuss these issues.