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What do I need to file to become legally separated?

Many people ask us what they need to do or file to become legally separated from their spouse. In North Carolina, there is no document that must be signed or filed for you to become legally separated. You are legally separated when you no longer live with your spouse. At least one of you must also intend for your separation to be permanent.

Not living with your spouse means that you occupy different homes. Separate bedrooms is not enough.

The date of your separation is important. In North Carolina, either one of you can file for a divorce after you have been separated for one year.

Separation creates a number of legal and financial issues that must be resolved. They include the division of assets and liabilities, spousal support, how to parent children in two homes, and child support. Most couples will attempt to resolve these issues through negotiation. Mediation and collaborative divorce provide a pathway to a negotiated settlement under the supportive guidance of trained and experienced divorce professionals.

The terms of the settlement are then documented in a contract called a separation agreement. The agreement identifies your date of separation and resolves the legal and financial issues between you. But a written agreement is not required for you to be legally separated.

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