Absolute Divorce

Our office successfully handles approximately 100 absolute divorces each year. An absolute divorce completely severs and terminates the marital relationship, and the parties are free to remarry. A court case must be filed to obtain an absolute divorce. Once the other spouse is served with a copy of the summons and complaint, he or she has 30 days to answer the complaint. If no answer is filed, a divorce judgment can be obtained after the 30 day period. If an answer is filed that admits the allegations of the complaint, the divorce can generally be obtained immediately.

It is important to know that a divorcing party's right to equitable distribution of property and/or spousal support must be filed before the judgment of absolute divorce is obtained. If these rights are not protected by a filed pleading prior to the divorce judgment being entered, such rights are forever lost.

In most cases, a client is not required to make a court appearance for Mr. Kelso to obtain her or his absolute divorce.


A party to the divorce must be a resident of North Carolina for more than six months prior to filing an action for absolute divorce. There are only two grounds for absolute divorce in North Carolina: (1) separation for more than one year; and, (2) insanity of the defendant spouse. An insane party may not legally obtain an absolute divorce in North Carolina. Most parties obtain an absolute divorce based upon being separated for more than one year.

A party is not eligible to file for an absolute divorce until one year following the date of separation, which is generally defined as not living together under the same roof. Parties who have separated, and then resumed marital relations, are not eligible to file for an absolute divorce until they have been living separate and apart for one year. However, isolated incidences of sexual intercourse by spouses do not constitute a resumption of marital relations under North Carolina's divorce laws.

Fees, Costs, & Policy:

A flat fee of $250, plus the costs of court and service fees are charged for an uncontested absolute divorce based upon separation for more than one year. The court cost filing fee for an absolute divorce is $225.00 or $235 if resuming a maiden name or former name. In the event the party being sued for divorce can accept service of the papers (usually in Mr. Kelso's office), there is no additional charge for service. If service must be completed by the Sheriff's office, the fee is $30.00. If you do not know the location of the party being served, then the divorce must be published in the newspaper to obtain service by publication, which takes approximately 40 days from the date of first publicaiton, and the cost is approximately $300.00 for publication fees.

Mr. Kelso has charged the same attorney fee for an absolute divorce since he began practicing family law in 1977. We want to make absolute divorce an affordable option for clients who desire to remarry and thereby avoid the immoral option taken by many in our society today, that is to live in a status of unmarried cohabitation.

For a Christian Perspective on Divorce, Click: