Separations are an incredible emotional challenge. In a best case scenario, we are sad and numb, but can carry on with our daily functions while we suffer. But often, people make decisions during separation periods that they later come to regret. Compounding this problem is that couples in North Carolina must separate for a year before they can seek an absolute divorce.
This one year can feel like a long time and means that resolution does not come quickly. Ultimately, the goal when you separate is to move forward with your life without making rash, detrimental, life lasting decisions. With this goal in mind:
- Never sign a separation agreement “to get it over with.” You have strong legal rights in the context of a separation and divorce. This includes an equitable division of marital property, to child support, and to alimony. Even if feels easier to sign papers that your spouse hands to you, waiving any of these legal rights may hurt you in the long term.
- If your spouse has an attorney, you need one too. If your spouse’s lawyer tries to tell you that he or she can represent the both of you, you are being misled. The two of you have conflicting interests and you need an attorney to represent yours. Further, if your spouse has an attorney, and you do not, there is an imbalance of power and potential that your spouse’s attorney will use every legal tool to induce you into waiving your legal rights.
- Do not stop going to work or quit your job. Not only do you need the income, but you have worked hard for your career and deserve to continue. Further, one of the best ways to move forward with your life is to retain a routine, rather than stay in bed or at home day in and day out.
- Do not drain joint accounts, or waste or destroy marital property. This will come back to haunt you when the divides the marital estate.
- Do not violate custody orders. This is not in your children’s best interest, nor is it in your interest. Not only is this unlawful, but it can result in considerable sanctions and even jail time. Further, parental kidnapping laws can be unforgiving. But the most significant result of violating child custody orders is that the court will consider this in limiting or restricting your access to your children.
- Do not tie alimony or child support to your spouse’s visitation with the children. In other words, do not deprive the other parent of visitation if they are late in making child support payments. This is unlawful as the two are legally separate and are not contingent on each other.
- Do not harass, threaten, or stalk your spouse. This is wrong on many levels. Further, it can subject you to arrest or incarceration, a protective order, and restrictions from your children.
New Direction Family Law
Separations can bring out the worst in everyone. If you have separated or are considering separation, contact New Direction Family Law today. There are many critical decisions and actions that you can take to protect yourself, your children, and to protect your legal rights. Our attorneys take great pride in providing clients with compassionate, relevant legal guidance through this heated time. Let us guide you through what you should and shouldn’t do during a separation. We serve Wake, Johnston, Lee, Harnett, Cumberland, Nash, Granville, Franklin, and Durham counties. Contact New Direction Family Law at (919) 719-3470 to schedule a consultation or reach us online.
Sarah J. Hink
New Direction Family Law