There are two common methods for obtaining a divorce in North Carolina: (i) after a one separation and (ii) due to incurable insanity.
So, absent an incurable insanity, yes, you must be separated for one year (prior to filing and verifying the divorce complaint). Being separated from your spouse typically requires that you have been living in a separate home for a full year (not just a separate bedroom).
I agree; you need to be physically separate and apart for 12 months before filing a Complaint for Absolute Divorce in North Carolina.
Our office schedules phone and office consultations to review cases concerning North Carolina legal issues. This answer does not establish an attorney-client relationship but is a response to a hypothetical scenario and should not be construed as legal advice.
Generally speaking, the answer is one year. There are, however, two types of divorce in North Carolina: (1) divorce from bed and board; and, (2) absolute divorce.
Divorce from bed and board is a fault based remedy, where a spouse innocent of misconduct can file an action for divorce from bed and board from a spouse who has acted improperly. There are a number of grounds for seeking a divorce from bed and board. However, if you think a divorce from bed and board may apply to your situation, you should consult an attorney. In addition, a divorce from bed and board does not completely dissolve a marriage. It does, however, potentially provide a vehicle for an innocent spouse to protect his or her property by stripping certain property rights from the offending spouse. For example, if you have successfully petitioned the court for a divorce from bed and board, your spouse will lose all rights of intestate succession in your estate, among other property rights. Depending on your situation and the value of your assets, this may or may not be a worthwhile endeavor.
If a divorce from bed and board applies to your situation, and even if you are successful in obtaining a divorce from bed and board, you will still need to file for an absolute divorce to completely dissolve the marriage. Unlike a divorce from bed and board, which may be obtained at any time when the circumstances of the parties meet the legal requirements, a married couple must be separated for one year before obtaining an absolute divorce.
Disclaimer: I am admitted to practice in the state of North Carolina only and make no attempt to opine on matters of law that are not relevant to North Carolina. This answer is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation. Facts and laws change and these possible changes will affect the response provided herein. It is always wise to consult an attorney in your locale before taking any action which may affect your legal rights. You should not rely on this response alone and nothing in these communications creates an attorney/client relationship.