Family Law

“I want to apply for my legal separation.”

We get this request frequently. The response is simple. There is no application or paperwork required to be separated under North Carolina law. In North Carolina, if the parties are living separately from each other, with the intent of at least one of them that the separation be permanent, they are legally separated.

Separation Agreement.  What most people mean when they ask us about “legal separation” is a written Separation Agreement. A Separation Agreement is a contract between spouses. A Separation Agreement can be as simple as a contract between spouses stating that they are separated and may now transact business without involving their partner.  This is similar to a Free Trader Agreement.  However, a Separation Agreement may include provisions dealing with child custody, child support, division of marital property, spousal support, and inheritance rights.

Do I Need A Separation Agreement?  Having a written agreement can often prevent problems and disagreements from occurring. Even couples committed to an amicable divorce can experience disagreement and conflict when they fail to address their issues directly.

Benefits of a Written Separation Agreement.  A Separation Agreement helps spouses manage expectations and avoid surprises. Most Separation Agreements contain “free trader” language which allows each spouse to manage future financial matters without having to involve the other spouse. A Separation Agreement can also provide for the waiver of inheritance rights to prevent separated spouses from inheriting from each other. Resolving the issues related to separation in writing allows each to move forward with their separate lives.