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Some facts about separations and divorces

Estranged couples in North Carolina often have questions about the transition from separation to divorce and its effects on alimony, child support and other matters. Typically, most couples can file for divorce after they have been separated for a period of one year, but there are exceptions to this rule depending on the facts of the case. In the meantime, parents need not wait for divorce to establish child support payments. If they can come to an agreement regarding payment and custody terms, that agreement can direct their actions until a subsequent divorce.

A separated couple can create a separation agreement to cover almost anything, including the division of assets and liabilities, the amount of child support payments, the children's living arrangements and the specifics of visitation. Assuming the parties agree, visitation need not be limited to every other weekend. If the couple cannot come to an agreement, each party should seek legal counsel regarding the steps that can be taken.

Alimony may also be established by mutual agreement of the parties, or it may be court-ordered. Alimony is determined based on a factual analysis and is not awarded in all cases. Following divorce, it is possible to return to a maiden or previous married name by filling out and filing the Application and Notice of Resumption of Prior Name. Marriage certificates are stored at the county Register of Deeds and court orders for divorce or child support can be obtained from the county offices of the county in which the action was filed.

In a situation where a couple has separated or one or the other spouse is contemplating divorce, an attorney may be able to assist with the drafting and filing of legal documents necessary to initiate the proceedings. The attorney may negotiate on behalf of the client to create an agreement to be filed with the court.

Source: The North Carolina Court System, "Frequently Asked Questions", September 27, 2014

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