Dear orrange:

Greetings. YES, YES, YES - you must always file a divorce to end a marriage, regardless of how long you have remained living separate and apart. Without a divorce, if the party marries again they are committing bigamy, which is a crime.

No, divorce is not automatic in NC after the one year of separation, but instead official action (filing a divorce complaint and having a hearing on the divorce) must occur. Thank you.

Janet L. Fritts
Attorney with Rosen Divorce
4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 500
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607
919.787.6668 main phone
919.256.1665 direct fax

10925 David Taylor Drive, Suite 100
Charlotte, North Carolina 28262
704.644.2831 main voice
704.307.4595 main fax


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 but a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action.


If a couple has been legally separated and has not lived together for an extended period of time (multiple years)is a formal procedure necessary to accomplish an official divorce. Put another way, after a year of legal separation, is a divorce automatic in North Carolina or must official action be taken?