If you are considering divorce in North Carolina, you may wonder how paying the bills works during the separation period. The easiest way to ensure that the bills get paid in a fair way is to sign a separation agreement with your spouse.
Expenses of Separation
In North Carolina, you must live separate and apart in different residences for one year before you can file for divorce. As you can imagine, this could create some additional expenses for you and your spouse, such as:
- Cost of rent, utilities, and furniture at a second residence
- Gas for the car when driving kids back and forth between spouses
- Daycare or childcare
In addition, you have the regular bills that your family pays. You may pay for rent or mortgage, utilities, insurance, children’s extracurricular activities, clothing, food, and much more. During separation, you’ll want to ensure that you are not saddled with all the bills – a burden you may not be able to handle financially. A separation agreement can help.
Separation Agreements and Bills
A separation agreement is a legally binding contract that two spouses sign. Typically, attorneys for the spouses prepare the separation agreement, and then the spouses sign it. The contract can cover many issues that arise during separation, such as:
- Handling finances and bills
- Dividing personal property
- Any spousal support that one of you will pay
- Child custody and support
Your agreement can go into a lot of detail about financial matters. For example, you could include a list of all the bills your family pays and who will pay them each month. Or you could total up the bills and require each spouse to pay a portion of the total. Of course, this all depends on what you and your spouse can agree is reasonable, working with your lawyers.
What About Accrued Debt During Separation?
You may worry that your spouse will rack up a lot of debt during the separation, or take out a loan against property that you jointly own. In North Carolina, most appreciation or reduction in value of property during separation is called divisible property, and the court will handle dividing it equitably between the spouses. However, if your spouse’s actions during separation directly lead to an increase or decrease in value of marital property, it’s more likely that the court will attribute the debts to your spouse, not you.
Your separation agreement can cover financial issues in great detail if you and your spouse agree. For example, you could agree that neither of you will take out loans against marital property during separation. Or you could include a provision that states what will happen if your spouse doesn’t pay the bills on time.
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.