Divorce is a painful time for couples, as a final decision is made to end a relationship that was supposed to last the rest of their lifetimes. But it is hard to make a clean break, as there are healthy and unhealthy dynamics that continuously pull the couple together and simultaneously pushes them apart. But the relationship is ending for a reason, which justifies establishing healthy boundaries to focus on healing and moving forward.
In North Carolina, couples have to be separated and live in separate residences for a full, consecutive year and a day before filing for divorce at the courthouse. Because a lot can happen during this year, this time offers an opportunity to figure out how to live separately from your spouse until your divorce can occur.
Create a Separation Agreement
First, speak to a family law attorney about a separation agreement. This is a legally binding agreement that can establish living arrangements, child custody and access, property division, spousal support, and child support. Regarding child visitation and access, a separation agreement can articulate how visitation is facilitated, the terms of parent-child telephone contact, and how the children are delivered between the two of you.
A separation agreement can also contain provisions that prohibit harassment, limit communication, and spell out the circumstances in which one spouse is permitted to contact the other. Having a clear, thoughtfully crafted agreement can dramatically reduce the potential for conflict that spouses have while they await their divorce.
If There is Domestic Violence, Seek Orders
If there is domestic violence in your relationship, speak with a family law attorney about a protective order, which can keep you in the home and prohibit your spouse from being in the proximity of you or your children. Further, in exceptional circumstances, you can seek a “divorce from bed and board”, which is a legal separation that can provide you with an order that ejects a wrongdoing spouse from the house, provides for spousal support and protects your children.
Be Thoughtful In How You Communicate
Limit your contact with your spouse to an “as needed” basis. You are seeking to divorce for a reason, and it is not helpful for your healing process to continue to be enmeshed with constant texting, phone calls and/or social media interaction. An example of “as needed communication” involves communicating about your children, such as parenting decisions, emergencies, and visitation.
Further, don’t start dating your spouse again, unless you intend to reconcile. If you move back in with your spouse or resume your relationship as if you were a married couple, then the one-year separation period resets.
Lock Down Your Social Media
Finally, consider blocking or heavily changing your privacy settings regarding your spouse, and your spouse’s close friends and family from your social media accounts. Make sure that you don’t see their posts and they do not see yours. As much as you want to see what your spouse is up to, or want your spouse to see what you are doing, it is not helpful toward a healthy separation.
Let New Direction Family Law Assist You
If you want help navigating your separation and divorce, contact New Direction Family Law. Our attorneys are experienced, proven professionals who approach every client with compassion. We take pride in building our attorney-client relationships on a foundation of trust, which helps us understand how to best advocate for each client. Let us help you. We proudly serve clients in Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. Call New Direction Family Law at (919) 719-3470 to schedule a consultation or visit us online at our website.