North Carolina is an absolute divorce state, which does not look at the reasons behind a divorce, but instead focuses on how long the couple has been separated. Under state law, a court can only grant an absolute divorce when a couple has been separated for a full, continuous year. Once that year has passed, either spouse can file a petition with the family law court in their county and seek a decree of divorce.
For some people, a year may sound like a long time to wait and may actually dissuade some people from even pursuing a divorce. However, inour experience, a year goes by a lot faster than people think it will, especially when that year is standing between an unsustainable marriage and a new beginning.
What Should I Do While the Year Passes?
If you are considering a divorce or have already separated from your spouse, it would serve you well to speak with a family law attorney about your options. You should do this sooner rather than later as there are important decisions you need to make to preserve your legal rights and to establish stability for yourself and your children during your separation period.
One of these decisions involves pursuing a separation agreement with your spouse. This a formal agreement between spouses that addresses critical issues like living arrangements, child custody, property division, spousal support, and child support. Separation agreements are legally binding contracts that are fully enforceable by either party filing a lawsuit for breach of contract. These agreements are very common and can dramatically reduce the tension and fighting that couples experience while they wait for a year to pass.
In addition, separation agreements serve as a precursor to addressing the aforementioned legal issues before a divorce is finalized. They can give a valuable glimpse into what life will be like for each spouse, which can thereby guide how property, custody, and support are later addressed. This leads to another critical task of an attorney during the separation period: filing or responding to lawsuits regarding equitable distribution, alimony, child custody, and child support. These proceedings must be underway before the divorce decree is issued, otherwise these important legal rights may be waived.
Contact New Direction Family Law
If you are seeking a divorce and want to protect your legal rights, contact New Direction Family Law. A separation agreement can provide the stability and peace of mind that you need at this time in your life. With years of experience in creating separation agreements, we will work hard to put you in your best position to move forward. Our firm serves Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. Call New Direction Family Law today at (919) 719-3470 to schedule a consultation or visit us at our website.