Divorce laws are different in every state, but in North Carolina, there is a “no-fault divorce” policy, which means that neither spouse has to be proven “guilty.” In other words, no one has to give any proof that one person caused the marriage to end. To file for divorce, the couple must physically separate for 12 months, and for six of these months, one party involved must be living in North Carolina.
This separation period often prompts questions during our monthly workshops. Here are five essential things you should know:
- Physically separate. You and your spouse must live at different addresses for 12 months, not just in different rooms in the same house. No proof is required for your separation. A testimony is all that is needed as long as the one spouse’s argument does not counter the other.
- Separation agreement. Terms of the separation are not required but can be helpful to put in writing how you plan to handle custody, debts, property, etc. during the separation period.
- Children. Children make a divorce a bit more challenging, so it is beneficial to determine together whether the child will split their time or live with one parent with the other parent granted visitation. You can prepare for your divorce and file for custody during the separation period.
- Dating. While you are separated, you are still married. Dating can be tricky during this time, and we’ve talked before about waiting until you are legally divorced. If the person is someone you had a friendship with during your marriage, it can cause suspicion in with your spouse and can make them less willing to compromise when it comes to agreeing on custody and property. A sexual relationship with a third party while married is considered adultery and is a minor criminal offense.
- Reconciliation. Some couples decide to reconcile before the one-year period is up. If so, this terminates any previous separation, and if they wish to divorce, they must restart the year. Although one incident of sexual relation does not constitute a reconciliation, it is best to try to avoid this so there is no question that you and your spouse have been separated.
If you have more questions about separation or the legal process of divorce, visit our divorce workshop in Raleigh.