North Carolina requires at least one full year before you can even file for the absolute divorce. It is not automatic. You could remain separated but married for the rest of your life. If you want to be divorced, one of the parties has to file the law suit. There is also no way to expedite the absolute divorce; you can’t agree to a fictitious date just to speed up the divorce. A divorce based upon a fraudulent date of separation may later be invalidated by the court even years later; even if you have remarried and had more children.
No. You may file for divorce in any state that you are a resident of or where you are in compliance with their laws to file at the time you want to file for the divorce.
After waiting at least 1 year to file and presuming that it is not being contested, it will usually take at least 6 to 12 weeks for the absolute divorce to be signed by the Judge. It is not automatic and a court appearance may be necessary. It starts when either party actually files the law suit. At the time of filing, at least one of the parties has to still be living in North Carolina or be a legal resident of this State.
Yes. The option to take back your maiden name or the last name of any prior living husband is optional by the Wife. A Wife cannot be “forced” to change their last name.