North Carolina law requires a couple to live separately for a year (a year and a day, to be specific) before they can file for divorce. That’s a long time to be living separately before any divorce agreements can be worked out after having shared a home and possibly children for years.
There are likely things to decide regarding how bills will be paid, for example. If you have children, there are myriad other considerations regarding how they’ll split their time, how their expenses will be divided, who will take them to school and pick them up and much more.
That’s why many separated couples who intend to divorce get a separation agreement. Although it’s not legally required, it can help you lay down some ground rules and help you avoid conflict and confusion that can only leave you more at odds by the time you get to the divorce process.
A separation agreement can help you draft your divorce documents
A separation agreement addresses many of the same matters that are covered in a divorce, such as property division, child and spousal support (“post-separation support) and child custody. A detailed separation agreement can help form the basis for your eventual divorce decree, which can save time, money and stress later.
Of course, you may find that some of the terms you include in the separation agreement don’t work well for you and decide to change those when you proceed to divorce. Further, a judge could decide that a different child support plan and/or custody arrangement is better for the children than the one used during the separation.
For a separation agreement to be a legally recognized document it needs to be signed by both spouses and notarized. It’s wise if both spouses have an attorney to help them as they draft the agreement. This will help ensure that you’ve covered everything you need to and that your rights are protected.