You may have signed a separation agreement intending it to be the final expression of your and your spouse’s wishes on separation. As with many things in life, your needs or circumstances can change as time goes on. In North Carolina, your separation must last for a year and a day before you can divorce. Further, the judge may adopt the provisions of your agreement as part of the divorce. If things change after you sign the agreement or after it is adopted by the court, you will need to change the agreement.
Can You Make Changes to a Separation Agreement?
Because separations in North Carolina must last for a year and a day, there are many aspects of your life that you may need to address in such an agreement. Separation agreements can include provisions about property division, support, and custody during the separation.
A good separation agreement includes a section that describes how to change it. If you had a lawyer prepare your separation agreement, speak to that lawyer about making necessary changes to the agreement. He or she can help you take the appropriate actions. If you did not have a lawyer prepare the agreement, you may want to consult with one now. The lawyer can advise you on how to change the agreement and what your rights are according to the agreement.
If your separation period is over and you are in the process of divorcing, you’ll want to check with your lawyer about how to proceed. Changing the separation agreement might not be the best option. Instead, you could seek different terms in the official divorce. Speak to your lawyer about what to do.
How Do You Make Changes to a Separation Agreement?
To make changes to the separation agreement, first check the language of the agreement. Typically it will require that both parties sign a written amendment or modification document regarding the agreement. Any changes to the separation agreement should be in writing. These changes must be agreed to by both spouses. You cannot unilaterally modify a separation agreement because it contains terms that affect and were agreed to by both spouses.
When changing a separation agreement, your lawyer may need to take a few actions during the process. These actions may include contacting your spouse and his lawyer, sitting down with them to discuss the changes, drafting the language of the changes, and circulating a draft of the amended agreement to all parties.
What If the Separation Is Over, But You Still Need Changes?
Sometimes, a separation ends but the spouses still need to change the terms that were listed in the separation agreement. If the terms of your separation agreement were adopted by the court when it made a divorce order, you may need court intervention to modify them. It depends on whether the terms were included as part of an official court order on the record. If you mutually agreed on the changes with your spouse but the court didn’t include them in the order, you and your lawyer can speak to your ex-spouse about agreeing to change them instead.
Usually court orders regarding divorce, property division, support, or custody can only be modified if there has been a substantial change in circumstances. This can depend on the specific facts, the amount of time involved, the permanence of the change, and whether children are involved. Since changes to these court orders can have a big impact on your life, be sure to consult a lawyer about the procedure for modification.
Let New Direction Family Law 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.