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North Carolina's separation period before divorce

North Carolina requires that married couples be separated for at least a year before a divorce can proceed. This means that a couple must be living apart and not in the same house for a year. While a separation agreement is not required, it is recommended that couples complete one.

A separation agreement can contain more than just the date the two of you decided to live apart. In many cases, child custody, child support, alimony and property division can also be dealt with -- if the two of you can come to an agreement. You should retain an attorney to review a separation agreement and to witness the signing of it. This will help ensure that your rights are protected.

In some cases, your soon-to-be ex may decide he or she will not sign a separation agreement. Mediation may be one way that couples can come to an agreement on divorce/separation issues.

Another benefit of having a separation agreement is that it is enforceable by the court. It does require that the spouse following the agreement file a lawsuit against the other party. The court cannot issue any type of ruling in a separation agreement until a lawsuit is filed. However, once it ends up in court, then the court may issue rulings on child custody and support, spousal support and more.

Divorce and separation in North Carolina can be complicated, so it is best to get answers to your questions from an experienced family law attorney. He or she can help ensure that your rights are protected as the case moves through the court system.

Source: North Carolina Advocates for Justice, "Separation and divorce," accessed June 26, 2015

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