Separation and divorce are a part of life. As much as we desire and work for our relationships to last forever, life is fluid and change is constant. At New Direction Family Law, we have provided years of legal guidance and representation to people seeking separation, divorce, property division, alimony, child custody, and child support. Believe us when we say that the decision to separate is a big deal. Not only are there the emotional and logistical ramifications of the decision, there are also legal consequences. Therefore, before you separate, please consider the following.
- This should go without saying, but decide whether you actually want to separate from your spouse. Separation should not be taken lightly. Unless there is domestic violence in your relationship, consider couples counseling if your spouse is willing to work with you.
- Speak with an attorney. The laws regarding separation, child custody, alimony, and property division can be highly complicated, interrelated, and time sensitive. What you do when you separate matters. It matters to you, to your children, and to your future. An attorney can help educate you on actions and mistakes to avoid that can jeopardize your legal interests.
- Consider your safety and your children’s safety. Separation is the most dangerous time in a relationship that involves domestic violence. Call a domestic violence hotline or your local domestic violence center to speak with a counselor for advice regarding a safe separation. In addition, an attorney can help you obtain a domestic violence protective order and other temporary orders necessary to protect yourself and your children.
- Create a plan for your children. If you have children, come up with a plan that can provide as much normalcy and stability as possible. Do some research or speak with a counselor about how and when to communicate your plan to separate with your child based on their age and maturity level.
- Identify and protect your property. Speak with an attorney about how to best protect your property. People can make impulsive and spiteful decisions during separation, such as draining bank accounts, abusing the other spouse’s credit, hiding and destroying property, or giving away property to keep it from the other spouse. There are steps you can take to protect yourself and your property from this type of behavior.
- Decide where you want to live. North Carolina law requires that you live “separate and apart” from your spouse for a full year in order to be considered separated. This means separate residences. You have a legal right to live in your home, but so does your spouse. It will take an agreement or court order to settle who gets to stay in the residence. An attorney can help you weigh your living options.
- Note and document the date of your separation. This date of separation is important for numerous reasons, including the timeframe in which you can seek a divorce, whether property is marital property, and the valuation of marital property.
New Direction Family Law
New Direction Family Law handles separations, divorces, alimony, child custody, and child support cases. If you are considering a separation, call us. We understand that this is your life, and that you have choices and legal rights. We strive to provide our clients with everything they need to make confident, full-informed decisions. Call New Direction Family Law today at (919) 719-3470 to schedule a consultation, or contact us at our website.
Sarah J. Hink
New Direction Family Law