Divorce & Separation Agreements

How do I get divorced in North Carolina?

You can obtain an absolute divorce from your spouse upon the filing of a lawsuit and establishing: 1) that you are a North Carolina resident (you have lived in this state for at least six consecutive months prior to filing) and, 2) that you and your spouse have been separated continuously for one year. Like most U.S. States, North Carolina is a “no-fault” divorce state. This means that, in order to obtain an absolute divorce, neither spouse has to allege or prove any type of “marital fault” (for example, adultery, domestic violence or other cruel and abusive behavior, economic misconduct/marital fraud, habitual drunkenness or addiction, abandonment, etc) has occurred. It is not even necessary that you and your spouse have formed an agreement to separate. So long as you have made the decision that you no longer wish to live together with him or her as a spouse, you inform them of your decision to separate, and you take steps to live separately and apart, you have satisfied the requirements of North Carolina law. In many instances, we can work with you to obtain an absolute divorce without your ever having to step foot in a courtroom.

It is important to remember that there are many marital issues that are not solved by merely obtaining an absolute divorce. In fact, certain claims, such as those for spousal support or for the division of a marital estate, must be handled prior to getting an absolute divorce. Once the Court grants your divorce, you have waived your rights to seek a judicial determination of important marital rights. It is crucial to discuss what, if any, claims you may have with an experienced attorney prior to seeking a divorce. At Hodges Coxe Potter & Phillips, LLP, we understand which rights are implicated in your decision to divorce your spouse and can assist you in making sure valuable claims aren’t lost in the process. Contact us today for a consultation at (910) 772-1678.

What is my date of separation?

You do not need a separation agreement or other piece of paper in order to consider yourself “legally” separated. Your date of separation may be considered the date upon which you have informed your spouse of your desire to end the marital relationship and have acted on that intention and that you have taken steps to live “separately and apart.” Usually, this means that at least one spouse must depart the marital residence. In North Carolina, there really is no such thing as “legal” separation. This is a frequently misunderstood area of the law and an example of why divorce planning without the assistance of experienced legal counsel can result in costly mistakes. If you are in the position of wanting to separate but neither you nor your spouse is willing to leave the marital home, help is available. Divorce planning is an important part of our practice. We can assist you in making crucial decisions which will protect you and your children prior to informing your spouse that you wish to end your relationship. Proper planning can make all the difference. Contact us today for a consultation at (910) 772-1678.

Do I need a separation agreement in order to get divorced?

Many separated couples who are able to amicably resolve their issues may consider a separation agreement. Separation and Property Settlement Agreements are a unique form of marital contracts through which you and your spouse may negotiate issues of property division, support, and custody, often aimed at preventing you from having to go to court. Once signed by both parties, these Agreements remain in full force and effect throughout your separation and are usually incorporated into a later divorce judgment, at which time they become an enforceable order of the Court. Separation Agreements are enforceable against a non-performing spouse both during your period of separation and following your divorce. Once incorporated into your divorce judgment, provisions of a Separation Agreement related to support, custody and visitation remain modifiable according to the same rules and requirements which govern all court orders.

Separation Agreements are an attractive option for many people who wish to amicably resolve issues which arise as a result of their marital separation. Separation and Property Settlement Agreements are often much less costly in terms of both your financial and emotional investment, and they provide spouses with a great deal of control over the outcome of their particular case. Separation Agreements can be custom-tailored to your unique situation, taking into account each family’s personal needs and priorities. When compared with lengthy litigation in which a judge decides the outcome of your case, such control is extremely attractive. For these reasons and many others, executing a Separation and Property Settlement Agreement may save you a great deal of time, money and emotional turmoil as compared to traditional matrimonial litigation. However, even where you believe that you and your spouse can agree to settle the issues between you, the importance of obtaining experienced legal counsel to assist you cannot be overstated.

Successfully reaching a settlement in the face of the breakup of a marriage is a daunting task, even for the most seasoned negotiator. At Hodges Coxe Potter & Phillips, LLP, we have the knowledge and experience to help you identify the issues of most importance to you, as well as those issues upon which your spouse is likely to focus. Once we have discussed your individual priorities and objectives, we employ our many years of training and negotiation experience to achieve a favorable settlement for you. Make a consultation today to discuss drafting your Separation Agreement, or to review a contract that has been presented to you. Never sign anything until you have spoken with an attorney and been advised of your rights. We are here to protect you and your family. Contact us today for a consultation at (910) 772-1678.


Practicing in this Field

Colleen H. Moran

Attorney at Law

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Divorce & Seperation Agreements