How To File for Divorce in Wake County

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If you and your spouse have recently separated, you may have started reading about the legal divorce process. However, different divorce guides will offer conflicting instructions on how to file for divorce. That’s because the process of finalizing your divorce may vary depending on the state, county, and individual circumstances involved.

In order to be as accurate as possible, I’ve made this guide specific to simple divorces being filed in Wake County, North Carolina. Your divorce may be more complicated than this guide covers if:
  • either spouse is in the military
  • you need to put a separation agreement into a court order
  • you need to divide a retirement account
  • there are any disputes about assets or other divorce terms
Additionally, in most cases you need to be separated for a year before you can file for divorce. To file in Wake County, at least one spouse needs to be a Wake resident that has lived in Wake over the prior six months.

This guide is not intended to recommend filing for divorce on your own. Having King @ Law handle your filings only costs $500 compared to $225 in court filing fees when doing it yourself. Meanwhile, there’s a lot of time, frustration, and risk involved in doing it yourself (and potentially doing it wrong). However, if you’re a DIY diehard, read on.

Step 1: Complete Filings

The first step is to put together a packet of documents you will file with the court. This packet will include:
  • A Cover Sheet: Indicate that you are filing a complaint for divorce.
  • A Complaint: You can find examples on page 5 here or page 11 here.
  • A Verification: You can find an example at the bottom of page 12 here.
  • A Summons: You only need to fill out the top of the first page.
  • A Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) Affidavit: This form is where you promise that your spouse is not in the military.
  • SCRA evidence: You’ll need to create an account here to get a “Status Report” proving that your spouse is not in the military.
Once all the forms are complete, print three copies. Take them with you to a notary for the Verification and SCRA forms. Then visit the bank to get a cashier’s check for $225 made out to clerk of the Wake county courthouse.

Finally, add a self-addressed, stamped envelope, so the court can file one copy and mail two copies back to you. Put all of that in a large manilla envelope and mail it to the Wake County District Court at: 316 Fayetteville Street, Raleigh, NC 27601.

Step 2: Service of Process

The court will stamp and sign all three copies of the documents you submitted. They will keep one copy for their own files, and send two back to you. These two copies are for you and your spouse respectively. You can hand a copy to your spouse and have them sign a waiver acknowledging they received it, or you can serve your spouse via certified mail or sheriff.

You can find a waiver example here on page 13. Once your spouse signs it in front of a notary, send the waiver to the court with a cover letter explaining what it is and the case number it goes with. Then wait 30 days.

Step 3: Filing for default

In Wake, getting a summary judgement for divorce requires appearing in front of a judge in the courthouse downtown. That’s an inconvenience you can skip in simple divorces, where you can get divorced by default by a clerk. To ask a clerk to complete the divorce, you need three copies of the following documents:

  • A Motion Cover Sheet: The type of motion is default judgement (DEFJ)
  • A Motion for Default: I’ll add an example soon.
  • A Judgement: This is the order you’re asking the court to sign.
  • A Divorce Certificate: This will be used as evidence of the divorce in the future.
  • Other documents: Most people also re-attach the SCRA documents and the waiver of service of process as evidence of meeting the requirements for default divorce by the clerk.
Mail these documents to the court and send a copy to your spouse. If everything goes well, your divorce will be finalized soon after.

Final Remarks

Law firms do divorce filings as a matter of routine with assembly-line efficiency. A lawyer will also be able to give you legal advice and ensure you’re making good choices based on your circumstances. For more information about King @ Law’s services and pricing click here or contact us. For those that attempt to navigate the courts on their own, hopefully this guide helps you along the way. Keep in mind that in North Carolina, once a divorce is issued, any legal claims related to assets, alimony, custody, splitting a retirement account, etc. may be cut-off. Mistakes can be irreparable. We recommend talking to an attorney.

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