There is a common myth that separating from your spouse means filing some sort of magical paperwork and you are “officially” separated. The truth is, there is no official document to separate. In North Carolina, you must be physically separated (can not be living in the same residence) for a year and a day and one party has to have the intent not to resume the marriage before you can file a divorce.
Then, what is a separation agreement? When a marriage dissolves, the separation can cause many legal issues that have to be resolved. A separation agreement is a written contract between spouses on a variety of possible issues including how to divide property, and schedule for the children. This could include Equitable Distribution (the division of marital property), alimony, custody, and support. Most often, a couple negotiates an agreement resolving these legal issues in a set contract called a separation agreement.
Why do you need a separation agreement? Protection, protection, protection. You need to make a list of the things that you will need to divide. This may include payment of bills, distribution of property and even custody of the children. If you can agree on terms, there are possible solution compromises and/or other legal steps.
Do not leave it up to chance. Follow through with what is in your and your family’s best interests and get it in writing. Learn what you may be entitled to.
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