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.