If you file for divorce in Durham County and are represented by an attorney, your case will proceed as follows:

  1. The Divorce Petition or “Complaint” is filed stating the bare minimum facts like your date of marriage, date of separation, and whether you have any minor children.
  2. The Complaint, along with a “Civil Summons” is “served” on your spouse either by Sheriff’s deputy or certified mail.
  3. Thirty-one days after your spouse is “served,” if your spouse has not filed anything with the court, a Motion for Summary Judgment and “Notice of Hearing” can be filed requesting a hearing to finalize your divorce. The hearing must be scheduled at least 13 days after this Motion is filed. Copies are mailed to your spouse.
  4. All Summary Judgment divorce hearings in Durham County are held on Wednesday mornings at 11 am. The hearings are not actually hearings however, because what actually happens is the Judge assigned to the case reviews the court file in chambers. If all procedures have been properly followed, she will sign your divorce judgments that day.
  5. Neither you nor your spouse needs to attend the “in chambers” hearing unless your spouse wants to contest the divorce.
  6. The Judge’s case manager will return copies of your divorce judgment to your attorney, typically by the following Friday, and your attorney will provide you with copies.

Please note that since there is no hearing for you or your attorney to attend; you will find out when what day you were divorced days or even weeks after the fact.

Note: if you don’t retain an attorney to represent you in your divorce, certain parts of your process will be different than those listed above. For example, you will have to attend a hearing and testify as to the facts in your Complaint. Please contact the Durham Family Court for more instructions if you plan to represent yourself in your divorce.

Generally speaking, you can expect your divorce process to take between 45-60 days from the date your Complaint is filed until your Judgment is granted, depending on how long it takes to serve your spouse.