A legal separation is an arrangement ordered by the court where a married couple lives in separate homes. The arrangement is an alternative to divorce if the parties are not sure whether they want to end the marriage but seek to establish boundaries. Separation agreements involve the separation of assets, custody of children and sometimes child support. If you’re a North Carolina resident, here are some things you should know about getting a separation agreement.
How does legal separation work?
There are several reasons why people need separation agreements. For example, some people are not permitted to divorce for religious regions, and a separation would allow the couple to live separate lives. Separation may be best for couples who aren’t sure if they want to stay married. Spending time apart in two separate homes will give couples an idea of how life would be if they were no longer married, which could push them to make a final decision about their marriage.
Once the date of separation is established, the spouses are prohibited from using money in the couple’s joint bank account or credit cards. The separation also limits each spouse’s control over assets such as vehicles and properties. Some states also require couples to have a legal separation before a judge will grant a divorce.
When it comes to separation agreements, it is important to consider how long a couple has been married. For example, the 10-year mark affects spousal benefits when it comes to Social Security. Military spouses have to be married for at least a decade to take advantage of the benefits under the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act.
If couples decide to separate, a legal separation may keep certain benefits intact. There are other advantages to creating a legal separation agreement as a trial period before finalizing a divorce.