It is easy to misunderstand North Carolina's divorce process — as it is less straightforward than the process in many other states.
Terms like "absolute divorce," "physical separation requirement" and "legal separation requirement" can be confusing until you receive guidance and clear information from a knowledgeable divorce lawyer.
The Charlotte law firm of Douglas K. Simmons & Associates, PLLC, was founded in 1992 by an attorney with more than 25 years' experience. Since our inception, we have grown to accommodate the legal needs of our local community. We are located in the northeast area of Charlotte, near the University of North Carolina-Charlotte (UNCC).
Family law has always been part of our practice. Our attorneys take professional pride in giving practical advice and ethical guidance to clients who come to us for help with a divorce or any related family law issues.
What Does A Legal Separation Agreement Contain?
North Carolina divorce law requires spouses to live separately from one another for at least a year before a divorce decree will be entered. No formal legal document is necessary to mark the beginning of that separation period.
Instead, a separation agreement is a private agreement between the spouses intended to cover financial and parenting arrangements for the one-year period of physical separation. North Carolina divorce law does not require divorcing spouses to have a separation agreement. It is a valuable tool, however, to begin the process of untangling two intertwined lives and talking about important decisions that must be made about issues like child custody, child support payments, property and asset division, and alimony.
The legal separation agreement may include agreements on all these issues, or only on some of them — depending on what the divorcing spouses can agree on. If the spouses can reach negotiated agreement on all issues, then all that remains is to file the absolute divorce petition at the end of the one-year physical separation period.
If the legal separation agreement covers some — but not all — issues, then two things will happen. First, either spouse may file a petition for a temporary order. This petition asks a divorce court judge to issue a temporary order regarding child support, child custody or any other unresolved issue. This temporary order will only be in effect for the period of separation and will be replaced by a final agreement when the divorce petition is filed. Second, the spouses will have to continue to negotiate to find acceptable compromises or face the prospect of a public trial at which a judge will make final decisions about child custody and other personal family matters.
Our lawyers at Douglas K. Simmons & Associates, PLLC, are skilled trial attorneys with extensive family court experience. However, we believe that negotiated agreement is preferable to a divorce court ruling in almost all cases. We want our clients to keep at least some control over the decisions being made about how their future lives will be shaped. A divorce trial takes away that control.
Schedule A Consultation With Us
If you are considering divorce, get early legal advice to help you decide on a plan of action. In a private consultation with one of our lawyers, we can discuss your goals and begin to build a strategy. You will receive more information about separation agreements and a professional opinion about whether one is necessary in your specific case.
To make an appointment, call 704-269-4223 or use our online contact form. We look forward to hearing from you.
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