A common misconception is that a Separation Agreement is required for divorce in North Carolina. If that were true there would be a whole lot of people who could never get divorced. The keyword to focus on in Separation Agreement is the word “Agreement.” Not even a Judge can force someone to sign a Separation Agreement. If they did, it would not be an agreement.
How do I become separated without a Separation Agreement?
Easy- you just stop living with your EX (Granted-sometimes that is not so easy). Although you won’t be “legally separated” you are still separated for purposes of NC divorce filing rules, which requires one (1) year of separation before filing for absolute divorce. So how do you prove you are separated? Change your mailing address on your bills and driver’s license, sign a new lease, and have witnesses prepared to testify in Court you have not lived with your EX for over 12 months. Usually, no proof is needed unless your EX decides to contest the date of separation.
What is the purpose of a Separation Agreement?
There are many benefits to having a Separation Agreement. It establishes an agreed upon date of separation. It usually addresses property settlement issues. It also normally deals with spousal support and child support and can even contain some custody and visitation terms. Basically, a Separation Agreement is the civil and the polite way to end a marriage. A separation agreement can also save thousands in legal fees if things were to get ugly later. You may agree on everything today, but waiting a full year to file for divorce allows your EX plenty of time to change his or her mind after talking to their family and friends. Just because you feel they have no legal basis to sue you for property division and alimony does not mean they feel the same way. Angry Ex’s sue all the time just to punish the other spouse, especially if they need money or feel jilted.
Do I really need a Separation Agreement?
If you are considering divorce, or if your spouse has mentioned divorce, you should consult an attorney to find out your rights. If your spouse has threatened divorce you should assume they are game planning to conceal assets and leave you high and dry. If you are looking to protect your assets you should consult an attorney to find out what not to do. Actions taken before separation can be used against you in Court later. An airtight separation agreement can protect you and your assets. Most importantly a separation agreement should keep you out of Court.