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It’s not easy to make the decision to move forward with divorce. For some, this decision requires months or years of consideration, but in the meantime, they may not want to live with the other party any longer. In these situations, a legal separation may be appropriate. While different from a divorce, it still allows two people to protect their rights and separate their lives. 

If you think for any reason that a legal separation is a smart move for you, you will find it beneficial to draft a formal agreement. Simply moving out may seem like a simple option, but in reality, it may leave you exposed to potential risks. Drafting a formal and legally enforceable separation agreement is simply a way to make sure you don’t face unnecessary problems down the road.

The main differences

One of the primary differences between a divorce and a legal separation is that, with a separation, you and the other party will remain married. Even though you will still be married, you will find it beneficial to include terms that address all major issues of your life and relationship, including child visitation, custody rights, property division and financial support. As you consider these factors, it may be helpful to remember the following:

  • While legally separated, you and the other party can remain on the same health care plan.
  • Because you and your spouse are married, you will retain the right to make medical decisions for the other in case of an emergency unless otherwise noted.
  • You and the other spouse will retain property rights, meaning that if one of you passes away, the other will receive property left behind. 

Finally, a legal separation does not have to be permanent unless you want it to be by moving forward with divorce. If there is a chance that you and your spouse could change your mind or reconcile after a time apart, legal separation is a smart choice for your situation.

Protecting your interests

Above all, you will find it beneficial to protect your interests, whether you are moving forward with divorce or think a separation is best. If separating, drafting a legal agreement is best, allowing you to have protection of your property rights, financial security and parental responsibility.

Like other types of family-related legal agreements, it is prudent to work with an experienced North Carolina family law attorney who can help you draft terms that are fair, reasonable and mutually beneficial to both parties.