How Separations Work in North Carolina

North Carolina is an absolute divorce state. This is a “no-fault” divorce that does not look at why the marriage is ending. Rather, a court may grant a divorce decree if it finds that a couple has been separated for a full calendar year. This simplifies divorces a great deal as it removes the contention that comes with proving to a court that your spouse wronged you, or defending yourself from such allegations.

With an absolute divorce, the process of a no-fault divorce can be less painful, less expensive, and resolved more quickly than in states that recognize fault. The attorneys from New Direction Family Law are here to help you take the steps necessary to move forward—which begins with an understanding of how a separation works.

You Must Live Separate and Apart

There is not a “legal separation” necessary to trigger the beginning of the separation process. You do not need to file anything with a court. After a full year of separation, one or both spouses may file a petition with the court, seeking a divorce.

For a spouse seeking an absolute divorce, one of the sole elements that she or he must prove is the date of separation. As part of the separation, it is required that a couple lives separate and apart. Courts have established that couples have to live in different residences—they cannot live in different parts of the same house.

An Uninterrupted Year

Not all couples who separate stay separated. Some decide to give the relationship another chance. It is important to keep in mind the implications that this decision can have on your ability to obtain an absolute divorce.

If a couple’s reconciliation is not successful, it restarts the one-year separation period. The yearlong separation must be uninterrupted, so there is no credit for the time the couple was previously separated. Courts look closely at evidence that the couple resumed their marital relationship. Isolated incidents of sexual relations between separated spouses, however, do not necessarily constitute a reconciliation.

Making a Plan

While a year may seem like a long time, clients often tell us that the year goes by faster than they anticipated. We can help you develop a separation agreement, which is a legal contract that can address issues like child custody, spousal support, who gets to stay in the home, child support, debts, and property division. This can give separated couples some peace of mind in a difficult time while awaiting the chance to obtain their absolute divorce.

Let New Direction Family Law Assist You

If you are weighing whether to divorce your spouse, you should speak with an attorney at New Direction Family Law. With decades of combined legal experience, our attorneys can help you develop a custom-tailored plan that helps you move forward with confidence. Our team understands that ending a marriage is a profound experience and strive to provide our clients with effective and compassionate representation. We proudly serve clients in Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. Contact New Direction Family Law at (919) 719-3470 to schedule an appointment, or visit us at our website.

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