Divorce Filing Process


STEP 1 – REVIEW YOUR DOCUMENTS

Review your forms to make sure that you have the necessary documents to complete this divorce process. 



Set One:

  1. Civil Summons*
  2. Complaint for Divorce
  3. Complaint for Divorce Verification

Set Two:

  1. Defendant’s Answer to Divorce Complaint and Waiver
  2. Defendant’s Acceptance of Service of Process and General Appearance
  3. Affidavit of Service by Registered or Certified Mail

Set Three:

  1. Motion for Summary Judgment and Notice of Hearing
  2. Certificate of Absolute Divorce and Annulment**
  3. Judgment of Divorce

*NOTE: If you need another copy of the Summons, it may be obtained at http://www.nccourts.org  Click on the word “forms” at the top center of the page and then type in the form number “CV-100” (Summons).

**NOTE: After 12PM, the Certificate may be obtained from the Clerk of Court/Civil Department, Room 3725.


STEP 2 – COMPLETE “SET ONE” FORMS

Complete “Set One” Forms

  1. Civil Summons: Fill this out and set it aside.
  2. Complaint for Divorce: Fill this out and set it aside.
  3. Complaint for Divorce Verification: This must be completed in the presence of a Notary Public.


STEP 3 – PHOTOCOPYING “SET ONE” DOCUMENTS


Make two (2) copies of each document contained in “Set One” of your forms. Copies can be made for a fee in the Civil Files Office, Room 3342.


STEP 4 – FILING “SET ONE” DOCUMENTS AND RECEIVING A CASE NUMBER

Filing: Take the original “Set One” documents, both copies of the documents and the filing fee to the Civil Filing Department at 832 E. Fourth St., Room 3725 for filing.  The filing fee may be paid in cash or with a money order. Money orders may be obtained either from the post office, bank, Wal-Mart or a check cashing store.


Case Number: At this time a case number will be assigned to your divorce.  Until you receive that number from the clerk, leave the upper right hand corner of the documents blank.  Once you have been assigned a case number, please make a note of it and print or type it on the upper right hand corner of ALL of your papers filed with the court in this case.


STEP 5 – SERVICE OF PROCESS

Service of Process Defined: Once you have filed the documents in “Set One” with the Clerk’s Office to initiate your divorce, you must “serve” (give notice to) your spouse of the divorce action.

ATTENTION: YOU CANNOT SERVE THE PAPERS ON YOUR SPOUSE UNTIL YOU HAVE FILED THEM IN THE CLERK’S OFFICE.

BOTH PARTIES MEET AT A NOTARY
“Set Two Forms”:

  1. Defendant’s Acceptance of Service of Process and General Appearance: Place your name on the “Plaintiff” line and the name of your spouse on the “Defendant” line.

  2. Defendant’s Answer to Divorce Complaint and Waiver: Place your name on the “Plaintiff” line and the name of your spouse on the “Defendant” line.
  3. Provide defendant with: “Acceptance of Service of Process and General Appearance” and “Defendant’s Answer to Divorce Complaint and Waiver”.

NOTE: Your spouse (Defendant) may not file these documents before or at the time you (Plaintiff) file the initial Complaint.  The Defendant must wait until AFTER the Plaintiff has filed the initial Complaint to file his/her documents.

Once the Defendant has filed both of these documents, no other notification need be given to him/her at this point.

Please read the instructions in this packet on setting your court date, the Certificate of Absolute Divorce, Motion for Summary Judgment and Notice of Hearing, Judgment of Divorce and Certification of Forms.  You may proceed with this last portion 33 days after the date the Defendant signed his/her documents (Acceptance of Service and Waiver) before a Notary Public.

  1. SERVICE OF PROCESS BY SHERIFF:

    If the Defendant lives in North Carolina and will not accept service of process, you may pay a $30.00 service fee per party served to the sheriff in the county where the spouse resides to serve the papers.

    If Spouse (Defendant) lives in Mecklenburg County:

    Take the Civil Summons and Complaint for Divorce (Found in “Set One”) to the Clerk’s Office, Room 3725, when you file for divorce.  The summons should include the most recent address of your spouse and any other information that will help the sheriff’s office locate him/her. These will be stamped and filed by the clerk.  The Clerk’s office may deliver the documents to the sheriff for you.  Sometimes, you must take the stamped documents (Summons and Complaint) and the fifteen dollar payment to the sheriff (700 East Fourth St. Charlotte, NC 28202). In either case, be sure to keep a copy of these documents.

    After delivering these documents to the sheriff, he/she will keep a copy of the summons detailing how the Complaint and Summons were delivered to the defendant.  The sheriff’s deputy will then file this information with the clerk of court.

    In order to determine if the sheriff was successful or unsuccessful in serving your spouse, you must check in person with the Clerk of Court (Room 3725). Your case cannot be heard in court if your spouse has not been notified of the divorce action.  You may also call the Mecklenburg Sheriff’s Office at 704-336-2543 to determine if service was successful.

    If Spouse (Defendant) DOES NOT live in Mecklenburg County:

    If the Defendant does not live in Mecklenburg County, you must mail or deliver the Summons and Complaint to the sheriff in the county where your spouse is located. The Summons should include the most recent address of your spouse and any other information that will help the sheriff’s office locate him/her. You should include a certified check or money order for the fee for service made payable to the sheriff of that county.  Contact the sheriff’s office in the county where your spouse is located to determine the fees and procedures associated with service of process.

    If you wish to send your paperwork to the sheriff’s office to be served, you should send it by certified mail return receipt requested to provide proof that your service request was received.

    In order to find out if the sheriff was successful or unsuccessful in serving your spouse, you must check in person with the clerk of court (Room 3725). Your case cannot be heard in court if the defendant has not been notified of your divorce action.  You may also be able to contact the sheriff’s office over the phone to confirm whether or not service was successful.

  2. SERVICE OF PROCESS BY CERTIFIED OR REGISTERED MAIL:

    Service of Process by certified or registered mail can be completed within the state and outside of the state, but within the US, by mailing a copy of the Summons and Complaint by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to your spouse and delivered to his/her address (or the address of the location where he/she can be contacted by mail).  A postal worker can help you fill out the necessary forms registered or certified mailing.  If you choose this method of service, you must file an Affidavit of Service of Process by Certified or Registered Mail when you receive the return receipt (the “green card”).You must attach the original return receipt to your affidavit.  (Please consult an attorney if your spouse is in the military or lives in another country)


    The Affidavit of Service must be taken to and signed in the presence of a Notary Public. 


    After the Affidavit of Service by Registered or Certified Mail has been notarized, take it to the Clerk of Court/Civil Department, Room 3725, and file it.

  3. SERVICE OF PROCESS BY PUBLICATION:

    You Do Not Know Where Your Spouse Is (THIS SHOULD BE YOUR LAST RESORT)

    If you do not know where your spouse is located, you will need to serve him/her by “publication.”  If you know where your spouse is or can find out his/her address, this process should not be used.  Publication is a complex process using the newspaper to post notice of the divorce.  You should speak to an attorney regarding this type of service. You can find a list of available attorneys and their fees at the SelfServe office (Room 3350).

    Lawyer Referral Services:
 Mecklenburg County Bar Lawyer Referral Service: (704) 375-0120 or www.meckbar.org
    
North Carolina Lawyer Referral Service: (800) 662-7660

***REMEMBER: After Service of Process by one of the previous three processes has been successfully completed, you must wait 33 days from the date of service in order to give your spouse an opportunity to file an “Answer” (response) to the Complaint.

Service of Process MUST be completed within 60 days of the original filing of your documents.  If Service of Process is NOT completed within this time, your Complaint will be dismissed and you will have to start the process over, possibly paying the filing fees again.

If you are using service by sheriff, you must contact the sheriff after 45 days to make sure service has been completed.  You can contact the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office at (704) 336-2543.

If service of process cannot be completed within 60 days of the original filing, you will need to ask for an endorsement.  This is found at the bottom left of the Civil Summons.  You must go back to the Clerk’s Office to receive the endorsement.  This will give you an additional 60 days to serve the defendant(s) with your documents.  You can receive an unlimited number of endorsements, but you must continue to request them within the proper time frame until service is complete.


STEP 6 – SETTING A DATE FOR YOUR CASE TO PROCEED

In order to receive a court date, your file must include the following four documents and two stamped and addressed envelopes:

  1. Proof of Service of Process: This could be any of the following:
    • Affidavit of Service of Process by Registered or Certified Mail “Found in Set Two” (if you served the original documents by certified or registered mail)
    • Defendant’s Acceptance of Service of Process and General Appearance and   Defendant’s Answer to Divorce Complaint and Waiver “Found in Set Two” (if they were notarized and filed by the defendant)
    • Return by Sheriff of successful service of process on your spouse
  2. Certificate of Absolute Divorce (Must be completed in Black Ink). Found in “Set Three”.

    This form is required by the state of North Carolina and is in this packet.
    The original and one copy of this form must be completed and given to the clerk at the time you file for the divorce or when you set your hearing date.

    ATTENTION: If the Certificate of Absolute Divorce is not filled out or is not filled out accurately and completely in black ink, the judge WILL NOT sign your divorce.

  3. Motion for Summary Judgment and Notice of Hearing. Found in “Set Three”.

    You may take this form to the clerk to get a hearing date after one of the following:

    • Your spouse has filed a responsive pleading agreeing to the terms of the Complaint (Waiver and Acceptance of Service forms found in “Set Two”),
    • Your spouse has failed to file a responsive pleading and has not requested an extension;
    • Your spouse has requested an extension and failed to respond within the extra time granted by the extension

    ATTENTION: After you receive a court date from the Clerk of Court, you must mail a copy of this document to the other party by
 1st Class US Mail.


    ***Please note that the date set for the case at the clerk’s office MUST BE

    AT LEAST 13 DAYS from the date the Motion for Summary Judgment and Notice of Hearing Form is received by your spouse.

  4. Judgment of Divorce “Found in Set Three”

    This form is for the judge to use to make his/her final ruling.

    You should insert the names of the parties and the case number and complete numbers three, six and complete number seven only if you are resuming a maiden name.

    ATTENTION:  If you would like to resume your maiden name or the name of a former spouse with whom you have living children, you may do so.  If you would like to request resumption of a previous name, please insert the name you would like to resume on the line in item 7 on the Judgment of Divorce.

  5. One Self-addressed, stamped envelope (so your divorce can be mailed to you)
  6. One stamped envelope addressed to your spouse (so your spouse receives notice of your divorce).  YOU are responsible for mailing your spouse a copy of the divorce.

Once all of the above documents are included in your file, the Clerk of Court will assign you a hearing date and write the date on the Motion for Summary Judgment and Notice of Hearing Form.  There is no formal session of court on the date of your hearing; a judge will simply review your file and determine if a divorce is proper.

Remember, you must mail your spouse a copy of the Motion for Summary Judgment and Notice of Hearing Form.  It must arrive to him/her at least 13 days before your hearing date.


STEP 7 – THE DIVORCE DECISION

During the week your case has been scheduled for by the Clerk of Court, the judge will review your file.  There is no need to contact the court or judge about your file. If all of the documents are in the file and completed properly, a Judgment of Divorce will be entered.  If you did not properly complete the forms, if you are missing a form, or if you do not meet the criteria enabling you to file (e.g. you have not been separated for one year or more at the time of filing and/or one or both spouses have not lived in NC for the 6 months prior to filing) you will receive a letter from the court explaining why your divorce was not granted.  It is your responsibility to determine why your divorce was not granted and to take the necessary steps to correct the problem.  This may require you to go back and complete some or all of the stages over again and may also require you to submit the filing fee again.  If you have any questions about the divorce, you are advised to speak to an attorney.

Remember, your file will be given to the judge for review.  There is no specific time or date for you to be present for your case.  Please do not plan to be at court or call the judges’ office about this matter.

Lawyer Referral Services:

Mecklenburg County Bar Lawyer Referral Service: (704) 375-0120 or www.meckbar.org
North Carolina Lawyer Referral Service: (800) 662-7660


STEP 8 – CHECKING THE STATUS OF YOUR DIVORCE DECISION

If you have included a self-addressed and stamped envelope in your file, the decision will be mailed to you.  If you wish to check the status of your divorce file in person, the Civil Files Office, Room 3342, is the appropriate location.  The divorce decision will be kept in an organizer labeled “Signed Divorce Judgment” in the Civil Files Office for four months after the divorce decision has been made.  After this point, the divorce decision will be on file in the Civil Files Office and may be retrieved upon request at a cost of 25 cents per page and three dollars for a certified copy with a seal.