If you are contemplating getting divorced in North Carolina, you should know that you must be separated for a year before you can file for divorce. There is no formal process for separation. You simply need to live in separate homes for a year with the intention on the part of at least one of the spouses to get divorced. North Carolina is a no-fault divorce state, so there is no requirement that both parties intend to divorce. Nothing states “intent to divorce” quite like a written document setting forth the terms of your separation pending divorce. If you’re thinking about a separation agreement, there are some things you should know first:
- You don’t need one to actually separate. Just tell your spouse you want a divorce, live someplace else for a year, and leave the details to the divorce court.
- There are no set requirements for a separation agreement. It can be whatever you want it to be. It is simply a contract between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse setting forth the terms of your separation, or more if that’s what you want the agreement to do. At a minimum, it establishes that you are separated as of a certain date and that at least one of you intends to seek a divorce, thereby simplifying meeting the legal requirements for a one-year separation before filing for a divorce.
- If you want to get a separation agreement, you probably should talk to a lawyer – both of you should. Most often, lawyers will negotiate and draft the separation agreement based on the stated desires of their clients.
- All you need for a valid separation agreement is a written document, signed by both spouses, with the signatures notarized. The contents of the agreement are up to you.
- Your separation agreement can set forth terms of child custody while you are waiting out your one-year separation prior to filing for divorce.
- Your separation agreement also can set for the terms of child support that will apply during that one-year wait.
If You’re Contemplating a Separation Agreement, You Should Consult with A Family Law Attorney
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Jennifer is a founding partner at Remington & Dixon, PLLC. Jennifer concentrates her practice in the areas of family law, wills & estates, unemployment benefits appeals, and traffic. At Elon University School of Law, Jennifer was the vice president of the Public Interest Law Society and a member of the Family Law Society. During law school, Jennifer interned at the Elon University School of Law Field Placement Clinic with Legal Aid of North Carolina where she represented clients in domestic violence court proceedings.