Separation vs. Divorce in North Carolina

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “How can an attorney help me with my Divorce or Separation in North Carolina?”


When two people decide to get married, there is often a “honeymoon period” that extends past the actual honeymoon trip. This period of new married life is filled with firsts, as many couples begin to navigate and adjust to married life, which sometimes means living with their partner for the first time. While for some couples this period extends into a happy life together, for others it can be the start of a tumultuous time that ultimately leads to discussion of divorce.


sunset-couple-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-Divorce-Attorney-300x225When differences and conflicts in a marriage are irreconcilable and divorce is deemed inevitable, many spouses in North Carolina elect to work with an experienced local divorce attorney. These legal professionals can help couples better understand North Carolina’s divorce laws and how they apply to the couple’s unique case.


For many spouses, the realities of life after divorce can be scary. After years of marriage, spouses have likely built wealth through investments and savings. With this comes a certain standard of living that spouses become accustomed to, and an impending divorce can cause that level of comfort and financial security to be called into question after the proceedings are final.


Divorce attorneys can help spouses navigate the logistics of divorce-related items such as alimony/spousal support, child support, and property division. Because the length of time it takes to complete a divorce can vary case by case, some spouses may be concerned about how their financial situation will look once they are separated from their spouse but before the divorce is final. While communication with a legal professional is always the preferred course of action, this article aims to provide some basic information on the differences between separation and divorce and their implications for spouses in North Carolina.


Separation Agreements in North Carolina


While a separation agreement is not legally required for divorce in North Carolina, many soon to be ex-spouses decide to file one as part of their divorce process. These documents outline various aspects of the impending divorce, such as who will be responsible for certain bills, who will live in the marital home, and/or where the children will live.


For spouses that will need alimony and/or child support, these separation agreements are important because they list the official date the couple had separated. This date is often used as a reference or baseline by divorce courts as they review and determine alimony and child support amounts based on the needs and terms listed in the separation agreement.


Divorce in North Carolina


Unlike separation, a divorce is the legal recognition that a couple is no longer married in the eyes of the law. Unlike some states, couples must be legally married for at least a year before filing for divorce, even if one spouse was clearly at fault due to issues such as neglect or adultery.


When to Contact an Attorney


Navigating the differences between separation and divorce as they relate to North Carolina state law can be tricky for residents to navigate without professional legal counsel. For years, the attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC have been helping spouses in Charlotte and throughout North Carolina as they navigate this process. Get a phone, video or in-person consultation by calling at (704) 370-2828 to speak with our detail-oriented and well-versed lawyers with offices in Charlotte, Lake Norman, and Monroe, please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today or find additional resources here.







The family law practice group at Arnold & Smith, PLLC includes two Board-Certified Family Law specialists and one Child Welfare Law specialist, as well as several attorneys with many years of family law experience that are committed to providing a powerful voice to individuals facing the often-tumultuous issues in this area of law. The range of issues our family law clients may be facing include pre- and post-nuptial agreements; separation agreements; post-separation support; child support (both temporary and permanent); absolute divorce; divorce from bed and board; military divorce; equitable distribution of assets; child custody (both temporary and permanent); retirement benefits and divorce; alimony and spousal support; adoption; and emancipation. Because this area of the law is usually emotionally charged and complicated, the family law attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC act with the utmost dedication to ensure that each client understands his or her options, and then act to achieve the best result possible for that client’s particular situation.





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