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DIY Divorce

A do-it-yourself divorce kit

We do not recommend that you handle your own divorce, because filing for divorce without handling spousal support, property division, and other issues will forever bar those claims and could cost you dearly!

divorce laws

Proceed at your own risk

Read "Should you handle your own divorce?" before you begin. Hopefully, you will understand that you need to consult with an attorney before starting a divorce. If you still want to proceed without a consultation, here are the steps to obtain your own divorce. As a pro se litigant, an individual who represents him or herself, you are responsible for knowing the law to the extent as a licensed attorney who has spent three years in law school, graduated, sat for the bar and been admitted to practice law in the state. You are also responsible to make certain that the information in your Pro Se Absolute Divorce packet are appropriate for your situation. Therefore, you should review and research applicable laws, rules and civil procedure, and cases that apply to your type of situation. If you are not able to do this, you should hire an attorney to represent you.

Note: Use these forms at your own risk. Rice Law, PLLC WILL NOT BE LIABLE for any indirect or consequential damages resulting from your use of the forms or information provided herein.

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The forms you need

Steps to get your own divorce

  1. Check with the Clerk of Superior Court in the County in which you wish to file your divorce to find out what local procedures you must follow to file your divorce complaint and properly schedule a hearing. Procedures vary slightly from county to county. These instructions are specific to New Hanover County, North Carolina.
  2. Download the five forms listed above and accurately and throughly complete them. Type or neatly print.
  3. After you complete the Complaint, sign the Complaint form before a Notary Public who will swear you in and notarize the document.
  4. You will need to take your completed forms (and two copies) to the Clerk of Superior Court's Office where:
    • You will pay the filing fee (currently $167) in cash, money order or certified check. The Clerk of Court will not generally accept a personal check.
    • The Clerk will issue your Summons (the Summons must be signed by the Clerk to be valid).
    • File your Complaint and get two "True Copies".
    • File your Domestic Civil Action Coversheet and get two "True Copies".
  5. Serve one packet and keep one packet. You must try to serve one packet on your spouse within three days so don't wait—start the process the same day you file your Complaint! And note that you cannot personally serve it on your spouse—it must be served by Sheriff or other lawful process server. If your spouse also lives in New Hanover County, take one packet to the Sheriff's department and pay them $15 to have the packet served on your spouse. The Sheriff will attempt service and if service is successful, they will notify the Court of the date that your spouse was served. If you serve by Sheriff, you can call the Clerk's Office to verify service from the return and then go in to file your Calendar Request. If your spouse does not live in a nearby county where you can easily have that Sheriff's office serve the Summons, Complaint and Notice of Hearing, you will have to serve these by certified mail or by another lawful process. You spouse must be properly served before the divorce can proceed. If you do not serve by Sheriff, you will need to bring proof of service to the Clerk before they will calendar your divorce. The other packet is for your records.
  6. Once your spouse is served, he or she will have 30 days to file an Answer & Counterclaim(s) to your Complaint.
  7. Schedule the divorce by filing your Calendar Request—You will File your Calendar Request after you serve the Summons & Complaint on the Defendant. Generally, the Clerk will set your divorce on the fifth Friday after you obtain service. Divorces are always in Courtroom #301 on Friday at 9:00 a.m. This gives the Defendant their 30 days to file an Answer & Counterclaim(s).
  8. On the day the divorce is scheduled, you need to show up professionally dressed and testify as to the facts in your Complaint. If your spouse shows up, they may crossexamine you. Be respectful and polite. You may inform the judge that you have prepared a draft judgment and hand that judgment up to the Court for its consideration. You will need to take two copies so that you can have one and your spouse can have one.
  9. On the day the divorce is scheduled, you will also need to hand up a properly completed Certificate of Absolute Divorce which must be completed in black ink.

Tips & points to remember

  • No one but an attorney can give you legal advice.
  • Do not ask the judge for legal advice.
  • Court is formal. Dress appropriately, be polite to everyone, and be on time.
  • Do not sign the verification until you have been separated for at least one year and one day.
  • You should consult with an attorney before you file for divorce.

Resources

Read the NC statute The Law on Venue for Divorce

N.C. Gen. Stat. §50-3 sets forth NC Law on the proper county for filing a divorce action

Read the NC statute The Law on Grounds for Absolute Divorce in Cases of Incurable Insanity

N.C. Gen. Stat. §50-5.1 sets forth NC Law on obtaining a divorce on the grounds of one spouse having incurable insanity

Read the NC statute The Law on Grounds for Absolute Divorce is Based on One-Year's Separation

N.C. Gen. Stat. §50-6 sets forth NC Law on obtaining a divorce on the grounds of one year separation for no fault divorce

resources - FAQs Have questions about divorce?

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