When a married couple in North Carolina contemplates divorce, they need to separate first. Understanding how separation occurs is crucial as it can explain how things work when you share property and children.
Understanding separation in North Carolina
Separation might seem self-explanatory, but it’s easy to become confused if you don’t know how it works. When you and your spouse choose to separate, it means that one of you has left the marriage and plans to end it. This often means one of you moves out of the marital home and into your own residence. You don’t have to file any formal paperwork or even have to reach an agreement with your spouse to separate.
Sometimes, there’s confusion about what legal separation in North Carolina entails. You can’t still be in the home, sleeping in a separate room from your spouse. One spouse must have moved out of the home in order for you to be considered legally separated.
If your goal is to get a divorce, your separation must last at least one consecutive year. After that time has passed, you can file for divorce.
Why you might want a separation agreement
Although a separation agreement is not necessary to legally separate from your spouse, there is good reason to have one. If you and your spouse are able to come to an agreement on property division, how to handle your bills and debts, who stays in the marital home and who has custody of the children, the court can enforce it. A separation agreement could be a lifesaver for both of you and can serve as part of your eventual divorce agreement.
If you plan to present a separation agreement in court, it must be formally done in writing, signed by you and your spouse and notarized.