Court Appearance in North Carolina

A friend of mine is going through a divorce. He lives in another state and his x-wife lives in NC. He was summoned to appear in court, but he just had surgery and cannot make it to court. He is worried that a warrant will be issued for his arrest. He contacted several law offices and they told him that he has to live in NC to be represented. I have two questions:

  1. Will a warrant be issued for his arrest if he does not show up?
  2. Does he need to hire a lawyer to go in his place?
  3. What will happen if he does not show up for court?

(1) For a civil matter such as a divorce and the related issues (custody, equitable distribution, etc.), a warrant for his arrest cannot be issued if he does not appear. A warrant for his arrest could be issues if he does not show up for a contempt hearing if the other side has filed a motion for contempt or the court has issued an order to appear and show cause.

(2) It would be best if he had a lawyer to represent him who can appear for him on non-essential court matters and can help him determine when his presence is absolutely needed. A lawyer in NC can represent a non-NC resident in a divorce case that is pending in NC.

(3) If he does not show up in court, absent a contempt issue, it is likely that the judge will order everything that the wife is asking for.

He should call the clerk’s office to see if any court sessions are being held virtually via Webex. If so, he can still appear. But if the issue calendared is for a trial and Webex is not available, he will need to be present so he can testify, present evidence, and cross examine witnesses.

Anna Ayscue

Attorney with Rosen Law Firm Cary • Chapel Hill • Durham • Raleigh • Wake Forest

Rosen Online | Unlimited confidential access to a North Carolina attorney for $199/mo - click here

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service only, a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action. The information posted on this forum is available for public viewing and is not intended to create an attorney client relationship with any individual. These answers are provided for informational purposes only, a person should consult with their own individual legal counsel before taking any action that could affect their legal rights or obligations.