Marriage is supposed to last forever. Therefore, separations present a tumultuous and uncertain time. Not only is there the emotional trauma that comes with the end of a long-term relationship, but there are also big financial and logistical changes that are unavoidable. Unfortunately, if you are separated with the intention of a divorce, you will have to wait a while. This is because North Carolina requires a couple to be separated for an entire year before a court can grant a divorce.
What is a Separation Agreement?
Some couples choose to reach an agreement during their yearlong separation pending their divorce. A separation agreement is a legally enforceable document, like a contract, that can encompass issues such as property division, spousal support, living arrangements, taxes, child custody, and child support. The existence of an enforceable document creates a structure for your separation and provides certainty and predictability for spouses and children alike.
Is a Separation Agreement Required?
No. There are no legal documents or pleadings that are required for a couple to be considered separated. This means that a couple does not have to have any sort of written agreement, and nothing has to be filed with a court to be legally separated. Instead, the law simply requires that a couple live “separate and apart” from one another for an entire year. In essence, a couple must live in separate residences, must not have continued intimate relations, and at least one spouse must intend to be separated from the other during that time.
Do I Have to Sign a Separation Agreement?
No. It should go without saying that an agreement must be made voluntarily. Whether you sign any sort of legal agreement is entirely up to you. If you feel like you are being forced or coerced into an agreement that you do not want, you should contact an attorney. This is particularly applicable if your spouse has retained an attorney who is purporting to represent both of you.
However, given the significant advantages (including peace of mind) that these agreements provide for spouses and children, you should contact an experienced family law firm to assist you in seeking an agreement.
New Direction Family Law
Separation agreements can give you some peace of mind during an incredibly turbulent time. Contact New Direction Family Law if you are interested in crafting such an agreement. We are a family law firm that provides comprehensive and customized legal guidance for clients who are separating and divorcing. Our office serves Wake, Johnston, Lee, Harnett, Cumberland, Nash, Granville, Franklin, and Durham counties. Call New Direction Family Law at (919) 719-3470 to schedule an appointment or visit our website.