Legal Separation in North Carolina

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Getting a legal separation in North Carolina is easy. The separation starts on the day the married couple starts living in two different houses with no intentions of getting back together. The necessary criteria for a divorce is that the spouses must have lived apart for at least one year and one day. North Carolina is a state which does not recognize any documentation for the separation. Just your word is enough to grant a divorce.

The separation agreement and property settlement (SAPS) is legally binding contract which is prepared by attorneys, notarized and signed by both the parties. This agreement contains of mutual decisions taken by both the partners regarding the issues such as property division, alimony, child custody and visitation rights and child support. The legal separation in North Carolina can be settled without appealing to the court or the ruling of the judge. These matters can be settled by the partners mutually. If they are unable to reach a mutual settlement, one partner can appeal to the court and then the court takes decision on these issues.

The basic advantages of reaching a mutual separation agreement is that the negotiations are in the hold of the couple. Besides, it is an affordable , quick and emotionally bearable way of getting a separation.

Steps towards a legal separation in North Carolina:

Preparing a Separation Agreement and Property Settlement is a tedious and important process. Do not go for do-it-yourself technique. Hire a professional attorney and get it legalized.

The steps for preparing a separation agreement in North Carolina are as follows:

  • Discuss the idea of drafting a mutual separation agreement with your partner and hire a separate attorney each. Make a list of all the assets, debts, property, retirement plans, investments and everything that you have acquired jointly after your marriage.
  • Also list your individual property and attach it to the agreement.
  • Discuss and take final decisions about the responsibility of monthly household expenses, childcare. Also, discuss the child custody and visitation rights and the amount for child support.
  • Make a rough draft while you are discussing these topics with your attorneys.
  • Your attorneys will prepare a final draft for all the negotiations that have taken place in your presence and been agreed by you.
  • Read the document carefully once it is prepared by the attorney.
  • Ask him / her if you don't understand any legal terms used in the agreement.
  • Your and your partner's attorney will review the document again.
  • Make sure you are satisfied with the outcome and if you are not, voice your concerns and make the necessary changes in the documents.
  • Finalize the contract by signing on it. The signing should be done together and in presence of both the attorneys.
  • Get it notarized and file it with the county clerk.
If you find that you and your spouse cannot reach an agreement, file for a 'divorce from bed and board' where the judge settles all the issues regarding the child custody, support, visitation and care and other important financial issues such as alimony, property division and other payments.

You can expedite the separation process on these grounds adultery, cruelty and inhuman treatment, abandonment, physical abuse, mental torture, drug abuse or substance abuse.

Do not try to prepare an agreement on your own unless you work in the field of law. There are many intricacies which you need to consider when you reach a mutual agreement and prepare a settlement document. Besides, if you are unaware of your spouse's investments and other financial plans, you might end up with very little than you actually deserve. You can even be duped into paying a lot more alimony or child support than is reasonable.

In North Carolina, a separation agreement and property settlement (SAPS) is a legally binding contract. So, make sure you put everything in the document and do not miss out any important point. Taking the help of a professional attorney who is an expert in dealing with the cases pertaining to family law is important.

Choose your attorney with utmost care. Ask your family and friends if they are familiar with any attorney who will help you chalk out the negotiations in a professional manner and will get you a deal that is beneficial to both of you and your children as well.

As there is no law defining when to declare a married couple as legally separated, it is advisable to hire a professional help. However, one thing is surely defined by the statute and that is a married couple should stay apart and not under the same roof for one year and one day after filing the petition for divorce from bed and board.

Thus, we can conclude that getting a legal separation in North Carolina is an easy task. The only caution we have to take is to draft the separation agreement very meticulously and seriously.

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