What is Marital Separation in North Carolina?

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “Do I have to be living separately to meet with a lawyer about divorce?”


Going through a separation and divorce can be a painful time in your life. Once you and your spouse decide to end your marriage, the first step is to separate. You and your spouse must physically separate for a period of a year before you can get an absolute divorce in North Carolina. While a couple may decide to separate, they may not always do so with a document. However, a separation agreement is often helpful in protecting your rights and reducing disputes during the divorce process.


charlotte-nc-at-night-Charlotte-Monroe-Mooresville-separation-attorney-300x199Divorce Requirements in North Carolina


Divorce in North Carolina is also called absolute divorce. This term means that the marriage will end and the parties will be free to marry again if they so choose. North Carolina has two grounds for absolute divorce including separation for one year or insanity of one spouse. In order to obtain a divorce in North Carolina, parties must meet the criteria. At least one party must have resided in the state for a period of six months prior to seeking a divorce. Additionally, the couple must be separated for a year without intent to reconcile before they can get a divorce in North Carolina. Separation is typically the most common path to dissolution of marriage in North Carolina.


Do We Need a Separation Agreement?


Couples face a number of concerns when they separate and as they head toward divorce.

A legal separation document is not a requirement for separation. However, it is usually a good idea to try to resolve some of the many issues that couples face during this time and through the divorce process. A separation agreement is a contract that may addresses things such as financial obligations and child custody and support, taxes, insurance, and more. An experienced divorce attorney will assist you in implementing a separation agreement that handles all of the major concerns during the process. It is important to note that even with a separation agreement in place, couples must still live apart and not have an intention to get back together.


Benefits of a Separation Agreement


A separation agreement can be beneficial to both parties as they prepare for life apart. The agreement will help protect your assets and ensure that you and your spouse both understand how the financial obligations will be met during the interim period. The agreement can also include details such as where the children will reside and how visitation will take place as well as an agreement to provide child support. It is helpful to address as many concerns as possible so each person understands both their responsibilities and expectations. A thorough separation agreement will be useful to make divorce proceedings easier and less stressful. Once you agree to the general issues, you can more readily come to an agreement about the divorce terms when the time comes. Additionally, the separation agreement can be a roadmap for couples and families as they begin their new dynamic.


Separation and divorce can be an emotionally and financially draining process for many couples. If you are considering separation or divorce, contact our legal team. We are here to answer your questions and help you get through the process with as little stress as possible. 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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