Divorce from bed and board does not leave parties free to re-marry
For an overview, please see “Divorce in North Carolina“; in addition to covering general concepts and statutes, that post also mentions the benefits of counseling and the necessity of addressing domestic violence if that is part of your situation.
Area domestic violence resources
Domestic violence resources in the Raleigh and Wake County area include:
- Interact, a United Way agency;
- Domestic Violence Unit of the Wake County clerk’s office;
- District Attorney’s Domestic Violence Unit;
- Raleigh Police Department’s list of resources (includes state-level organizations).
State’s version of legal separation
The North Carolina version of legal separation is called Divorce from Bed and Board, as set out in section 50-7, which stipulates:
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. In addition, the court may grant the victim of such treatment the remedies available under G.S. 50B‑1, et seq.
(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. (1871‑2, c. 193, s. 36; Code, s. 1286; Rev., s. 1562; C.S., s. 1660; 1967, c. 1152, s. 7; 1971, c. 1185, s. 22; 1979, c. 561, s. 5; 1985, c. 574, ss. 1, 2.)
In other words, this type of “divorce” provides judicially sanctioned separation (including assets) and addresses child custody and support, but the marriage is not dissolved, and neither party is free to re-marry. This can also be trickier than a simple, uncontested absolute divorce, because of the legal implications. For instance, authorities advise to neither move nor force your spouse to move from the marital home without discussing your situation with an attorney: the former could lead to claims of abandonment against you, and the latter could open the door for your spouse to make claim of having been “maliciously turned out of door.” Furthermore, a spouse in the military might seek a divorce from bed and board, claiming one of the preceding injuries, in order to escape regulations for providing spousal support.
Absolute divorce dissolves the marriage
The absolute divorce can be uncontested or contested. The simplest requires no fault, simply that one spouse meets the six-month residency requirement and that the couple has lived apart for at least a year. To file in Wake County, at least one spouse must be a resident of Wake County ($157 filing fee), according to the court’s “Self-Help Divorce Information,” which also states:
If you have questions about whether this package is suitable for your situation, YOU SHOULD CONTACT AN ATTORNEY. Employees of the Clerk’s Officeor the Court are PROHIBITED BY LAW from advising you regarding your legal situation or whether this package is appropriate for your situation.
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