Drafting Separation Agreements for Charlotte Residents
In North Carolina, both spouses must live separate and apart for a full year in order to qualify for a divorce. The parties are deemed “separated” once both live in two different residences, and at least one party does not intend to resume joint living arrangements. The law does not require a separation agreement; however, it can be beneficial in family law cases.
A separation agreement is essentially a contract between the parties, and is formed with the assistance of an attorney. The separation agreement can help layout the division of certain assets, debts, property, child custody, and support post-separation. A separation agreement is different from a court order, but can be incorporated into the divorce order, once the requirements for that have been established.
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What Is a Separation Agreement?
A separation agreement is a notarized, legal contract between two parties used to resolve issues when preparing for separation or divorce. This document also states that both parties will live apart during a certain time frame prior to filing for a divorce. The separation agreement will clearly state and resolve any issues, including but not limited to:
- Financial debt
- Child custody & visitation
- Division of property & assets
- Child support
- Spousal support
- Any other additional issues that need to be addressed
In many states, it is a requirement that a separation agreement be signed and notarized for one year prior to filing for divorce.
A separation agreement may be submitted to the court prior to the divorce proceedings or can be given to the judge during the final divorce judgment.
What Terms Should Be Included in a Separation Agreement?
The terms of such agreements vary, depending on the needs of the couple involved, but the following items should be included:
- Custody of the child(ren)
- Visitation schedule
- Spousal support
- Child support
- Each spouse’s living situation
- Property and debt division
- Child(ren)’s expenses
- Income taxes
Why Obtain a Separation Agreement?
A separation agreement is well suited for three (although there can be more) reasons:
1. A married couple has decided to separate but is not ready to divorce. Under this agreement, the couple agrees to continue their marriage but live temporarily apart.
2. A married couple has decided to divorce and knows how they would like to divide their assets, debts, and other responsibilities. Instead of relying on the court to decide what each spouse will be responsible for, a couple can create a separation agreement.
3. A married couple would like to live separately long-term but maintain their legal relationship status as married. This might be an option for a couple if they cannot afford to get divorced or are not ready to go through with the process just yet.
What Are the Benefits Of A Separation Agreement?
Your separation agreement, once signed and notarized, becomes a legal document that will be upheld by the court. Having a separation agreement can provide you with distinct advantages throughout your separation and beyond. These include:
- Flexibility – While your separation agreement is a contract, which means that the court can enforce the terms therein once you’ve both signed off on it, you have the flexibility within your separation period to work on the terms and to find a middle ground that you are both comfortable with. If you’re unable to do so, then you can look to the court to hand down decisions during the divorce process.
- Privacy – You and your spouse – and your respective attorneys – can negotiate your separation terms privately, and the information therein will remain private. If your divorce goes to litigation, however, your divorce proceeding will be a matter of public record. Many people find the privacy of a separation agreement highly motivating.
- Less Time and Money – If you and your divorcing spouse are able to find mutually acceptable terms that you are both willing to sign off on, you can bypass the financial drain and extended timeline that litigating a divorce demands.
The Difference Between Separation & Divorce
The difference between separation and divorce has to do with your legal martial status. Separation happens when a couple is still legally married but no longer involved in a martial relationship and living together. This couple can choose to reconcile, remain separated, or file for a divorce.
Divorce happens after a couple receives a final divorce judgment from a judge. Once this happens, the couple is no longer legally married.
Contact Our Charlotte Separation Attorney Today
Separation agreements allow both parties to agree on family matters before a separation or divorce. It is important to keep an open mind while working through a separation agreement. If you believe you are ready to take the step towards pursuing one, please contact our separation attorney in Charlotte today for a confidential consultation. We will take you through the separation agreement process and discuss your options with you.
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