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North Carolina delays divorces due to a 1931 law

If you have been thinking about divorce for a long time, it may feel like the days or weeks leading up to the end of the process may last forever. No one wants an extra delay thrown in unless it results in a better or more amicable split of property or child custody.

But waiting is part of the game in North Carolina, partially because of a law dating back to the early 20th century. In fact, the law is so esoteric that it is difficult to find references to it in the Tar Heel State’s codes.

General Statute 50-6 makes North Carolina one of 17 states in the union that require a waiting period before a divorce is granted. The text of the law states that a divorce may only be dissolved legally after a year of spouses living separately. In some cases, lawyers have argued that a brief reconnection or even living in the same building constitutes a restart of that 12-month term.

The law dates to 1931 and some legislators have claimed its origins are unknown. Since it takes more effort to drop a law from the books than it does to make a new one, this issue may be dealt with for years to come.

Although the waiting period does allow people to rethink a major decision, it can feel like it is in the way once that decision has been made. An attorney can always help advise on issues related to divorce in North Carolina or any other venue. No one should try to go through that process alone.