Some jurisdictions, including North Carolina recognize a legal separation between two married individuals. Under the law, a couple is considered married until they go through final divorce proceedings. That said, courts do recognize legal separation according to a date of separation, and separation agreements for spouses who are going through the divorce process are key in helping make sure that anything that comes up during separation and after divorce is taken care of.
A separation agreement is a legally binding contract that covers many of the same issues you might otherwise handle in court, including property division, spousal support and initial child custody or child support issues. Qualified marital agreement attorneys at Apple Payne Law can ensure your contract covers everything important to your family. To give yourself a chance a fair outcome during your separation and prevent yourself from being taken advantage of, seek the guidance of a Kernersville separation agreements lawyer.
For married couples in North Carolina, there are two ways to have a legal separation. First is when one spouse moves out and no longer lives/resides at the marital residence AND has done so with the intent not to return to the marriage. This is the usual method of separation. However, if one spouse cannot move out of the house, and the other spouse refuses to move out, there is an option known as divorce from bed and board. This is different from an absolute divorce as it does not bring the marriage to a formal end. However, the requirements for divorce from bed and board are strict, and litigation can be expensive, making the process relatively uncommon.
The issue with a divorce from bed and board is that one spouse must establish the other was at fault for the separation. This could be done by demonstrating a spouse abandoned their family, committed adultery, or is involved in excessive drug use. A well-versed attorney with experience in separation agreements and family law litigation can provide insight into whether this type of divorce is a good option.
While state law might recognize legal separation, it doesn’t provide for the division or property or support – but couples can reach written agreements that the courts can sign off between spouses who no longer live together. While the parties can come to terms on a separation agreement with a competent lawyer at Apple Payne Law, or the court will have the final say. A separation agreement prevents the parties from having to get a judge or the courts involved – in addition to being way less stressful!
With one of the spouses moving out of the marital home, the circumstances in the marriage will change dramatically. A separation agreement will often address the financial issues involved with a spouse securing a new place to live, such a spousal support, alimony or dealing with the equity from the marital residence.
Separation agreements could also cover issues of child support or custody. Both parties may negotiate the terms and present an agreement to the court, but if you go to court, the judge is required to act in the child’s best interests. Here again, a custody agreement prevents the parties from having to get a judge or the courts involved – in addition to being way less stressful for both the parents and especially the children.
A separation agreement is especially a useful tool in the early stages of the divorce process. Many couples who have already decided to divorce might agree to execute a separation agreement to set some terms before separation – which is allowed under North Carolina law as long as the parties separate within a short time thereafter. Additionally, the terms written into these separation agreements may be included in the final divorce decree. There are serious pros and cons to including a separation agreement in your final divorce decree, and even if you reached your agreement without the assistance of a lawyer, you should definitely have a lawyer review your agreement before incorporating it into the Divorce Decree.
If you are separating from your spouse or considering divorce, a separation agreement is certainly in your best interests. Working out these important issues with your spouse can help avoid the very costly and arduous process of litigating a divorce, property distribution, alimony and support.
Let a Kernersville separation agreements lawyer help you understand your legal options. Reach out to Apple Payne Law for your confidential consultation today.
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