Under North Carolina law, married couples who decide to end their marriage need to stay separated for one year and one day (366 days) before filing for divorce. While this waiting period may seem needlessly protracted and painful, it is also an opportunity to settle all potentially contentious issues related to separation and divorce, including custody, property division, and child support.
What should you know about North Carolina separation agreements, why should you aim for an uncontested divorce, and how can an experienced divorce attorney help? We’ve asked some members of our legal team at McKnight Law, divorce lawyers in Wake County, North Carolina, to chime in.
What Does a Separation Agreement Include?
Separation agreements in North Carolina usually cover:
- Division of marital property, including the family home, savings accounts, and vehicles
- Arrangements for paying off marital debt
- Child custody
- Child support
- Spousal support
Unlike some other states, North Carolina does not have a formal process for legal separation. In North Carolina, spouses count as separated if they live in different homes and at least one spouse intends to end the marriage.
When both spouses sign a separation agreement in North Carolina, this agreement becomes legally binding. However, the law does not require spouses to sign such an agreement. You may also choose to settle all relevant matters at the time of divorce or litigate the divorce if necessary.
Custody and Child Support
Custody and child support are often among the most conflict-fraught aspects of ending a marriage. An experienced custody and child support lawyer can help you negotiate disputable issues related to child support and custody in your separation agreement.
In most cases, parents share legal and physical custody, which means that children spend part of their time in each parent’s home, and both parents participate in important decisions. However, if you can prove that your spouse is unfit as a parent or endangers the child in any way, you may have a chance of obtaining sole custody.
Many people hesitate to divorce for financial reasons, especially if their marriage involves significant financial inequity. A typical scenario involves one spouse, often the wife, who functions as a stay-at-home parent, while the other spouse is the primary breadwinner and controls all money matters.
North Carolina divorce courts divide marital property on the principle of equitable distribution, accounting for factors like both spouses’ ages, health, and contributions to the marital property. If you are or were a stay-at-home parent, the court will likely rule that your contribution was equal to earning an income, and you have very fair chances of getting a considerable share of the marital assets.
However, as the financially disadvantaged spouse, you may find yourself and your children under conditions of extreme monetary stress as you wait for divorce, alimony, and child support rulings. A family law attorney can help negotiate temporary support in your separation agreement to tide you and your children over until the divorce settlement.
Mediation and Arbitration
Reaching an amicable separation agreement with your spouse can save you a great deal of time, money, and stress. If the parties are unable to agree, their respective lawyers and a third-party mediator can attempt negotiation.
Another option is out-of-court resolution through an arbitrator. During an arbitration hearing, your attorney can present your case with all relevant evidence. Unlike mediation, an arbitration ruling has legal force, so you should only consent to arbitration if you’re prepared to accept its decision.
How a Family Law Attorney Can Help With Your Separation Agreement
Even if you hope to achieve an amicable, uncontested divorce, it is highly advisable to have legal counsel. Your spouse will almost certainly hire a family law attorney, so you’ll want to do the same to ensure that the two of you negotiate a fair agreement.
Many clients in Wake County, North Carolina, choose our team at McKnight Law to represent them during the agonizing time of separation and divorce.
Our knowledgeable family law, divorce, and child custody attorneys at McKnight Law have a solid body of five-star reviews, thanks to:
Commitment: Our team at McKnight Law gives the utmost attention to each client’s case. We know how to find straightforward solutions to complex issues.
Coverage: Our base of knowledge and experience at McKnight Law covers all aspects of family law, including separation, divorce, alimony, property division, custody, and child support.
Compassion: At McKnight Law, we know how emotionally challenging this time can be for you. We focus on reducing stress and hassle for our clients. We will take care of your case so that you can take care of yourself and your family.
McKnight Law: “Family Lawyers Near Me” in Raleigh, North Carolina Fluent in the Emotions of Divorce and Child Custody
If you’re searching for “family lawyers near me” or “divorce lawyers near me,” you are likely going through one of the most stressful periods in your life. During the family upheaval of separation and divorce, you need an authentic, honest, transparent, and approachable legal team on your side.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.