After you have made the decision to separate from your spouse in North Carolina, that clock starts to tick. After a year, you will be able to officially divorce in the state. However, what should you do immediately after splitting up with your partner? If you are separating in North Carolina, here are a few steps to take to protect your interests.
Get Legal Advice
After separating in North Carolina, you need to consult with a family law attorney. Now that you are in the one-year separation period, you need to know what to do so you don’t jeopardize the process. With a lawyer’s assistance, you can make sure your actions stay within the legal parameters of the state.
Establish a New Residence
With this separation, you need to set up a new residence. You cannot rent a room from your spouse. This new space must be completely separate from the other partner. Whether you rent or purchase, you will want to have legal documentation showing you occupy that space. This can come in the form of a lease agreement, new mortgage, or even utility bills.
Organize Your Finances
Separating finances from your spouse is another practical step. With the other individual’s help, you may want to close joint bank accounts and credit cards to prevent future financial problems. When you show your financial independence early in the separation process, you can show you have autonomy from the other person.
Gather and Update Legal Documents
You will want to collect all your important documents as part of the separation process. This is the time to update legal papers such as wills, beneficiary designations, and powers of attorney. With that, you can make sure that those vital documents have been updated to show your new circumstances.
Draft a Separation Agreement
In North Carolina, couples are encouraged to create a separation agreement. When you do this, you have a binding document outlining the separation terms. This agreement covers a few critical issues, such as:
- Property division
- Child custody and support
Once again, you will want to work with a professional family law attorney to ensure the document meets North Carolina’s legal standards.
Determine Property Division, Alimony, and Child Custody
North Carolina follows the principle of equitable distribution. However, that does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split. Instead, there is a fair distribution based on various factors. Take this time to identify, value, and equitably divide assets and debts acquired during the marriage.
Alimony, or spousal support, may be granted during separation. Many times, this occurs if there is a huge financial disparity between spouses. Whether you plan to pay or need to request this support, an experienced family law lawyer can assist with this process.
For couples with children, establishing child custody and support arrangements is a vital step in the separation process. You and your spouse will need to create a detailed parenting plan that addresses custody schedules, visitation rights, and financial responsibilities. Remember that you always want to prioritize the best interests of the children.
Learn More About the Separation Process
When separating in North Carolina, you want to make sure that your decisions align with the state’s family laws. Any mistakes could cause legal problems down the road for you. If you would like to learn more about this process, contact the Stephen E. Robertson Law Office. We are here to help you navigate through these challenging times. You can set up an appointment by calling 336-370-6760 today.