A divorce attorney is often asked why the separation date from your spouse is important in North Carolina. The legal requirement of a year’s separation means that the court will need to know your separation date. If you reconcile, the separation period starts over again. If you have questions regarding your separation date or how it impacts your divorce, contact one of our divorce attorneys to get the answers you need.
What Is a Separation Date for Divorce in North Carolina?
To get a divorce in North Carolina, the law requires couples to remain separated for at least a year and a day. During the entire separation period, spouses must live “separate and apart”. This means that the spouses must live in separate residences (not in different rooms of the same house). At least one of the spouses must have the intention of permanently living apart.
The separation period for divorces begins when spouses physically separate by living in different residences, with at least one of them having the intent to live apart. This physical separation starts the clock for the separation period. Once the couple has been separated for a year and a day, they can file for divorce in North Carolina.
Why Does the Separation Date Matter?
When spouses file for divorce in North Carolina, each spouse and their divorce attorney will need to list the separation date on the paperwork. The judge who considers the request for a divorce will decide whether the spouses have shown that they have been separated for a year and a day. If not, the judge cannot grant the divorce (unless other very specific circumstances apply).
Moreover, the separation date matters for property division. When a court equitably divides the couple’s property during a divorce, the assets and debts they own on the separation date are presumed to be marital property. Any changes to that marital property after the separation date become part of the spouses’ divisible property.
What Happens If We Reconcile During Our Separation?
Reconciliation or getting back together affects the separation date for divorce law purposes. When a couple reconciles, the separation period ends. The spouses will need to re-establish their separation by starting to live separate and apart again. They also will need to wait a full year and a day from the new separation date before they can divorce.
Isolated incidents of sexual intercourse between spouses are not enough to show a reconciliation. The court will look at the totality of the circumstances to decide whether a couple has reconciled.
How Can Spouses Prove Their Separation Dates?
During the divorce process, spouses may need to show evidence of when their separation periods began. If you are planning to separate or divorce, talk to your North Carolina divorce attorney about how to proceed. You may need documentation of your separate residences, which could be shown through leases, mortgage records, utility bills, or other methods. Your attorney can advise you on what the law requires. Also, ask your lawyer about getting a separation agreement in place to protect you during the one-year period. Your lawyer can help you communicate with your spouse through his or her lawyer about the separation and divorce process.
Let a New Direction Family Law Divorce Attorney Assist You
If you are considering ending your marriage, the team at New Direction Family Law is available today to answer your questions. With decades of combined legal experience, our attorneys are knowledgeable, effective, and compassionate professionals. We will help you understand your legal rights and work hard toward your best outcome. We proudly serve clients in Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. Contact New Direction Family Law at (919) 646-6561 to schedule a consultation, or visit us at our website.