Often when we meet clients and discuss the fees associated with litigating all divorce related issues, it can be an awakening experience. A good portion of preparing to litigate spousal support, child support and equitable distribution issues is procuring and reviewing important financial documents. Courts are overflowing with cases and it’s not uncommon to wait 3-4 months before your case is heard. Settling your matter via separation agreement can save the you time and money that otherwise could end up being spent on legal fees.
A separation agreement is a contract voluntarily entered into between spouses, signed by the parties and notarized. The parties can legally document their intention to live separate and apart and the dissolution of their marriage. Separation agreements are very flexible. They can resolve all marital issues, including child custody and child support, or they can resolve issues that the parties can mutually agree upon while leaving the remaining issues for litigation. This document is designed to settle any alimony, child custody, visitation, asset, debt, child support, and tax and insurance considerations between the parties.
There are several other issues a separation agreement can address. For example, parents can agree to their child’s religious upbringing, who should be designated to care for a domestic pet, or any related, customized consideration tailored to your family’s needs. Overall, it clarifies the rights and duties of the spouses regarding custody of and access to children, property distribution, support payment and any matter connected to the marriage.
For all practical purposes, the term legal separation does not exist under current North Carolina law. Many people believe that they have to file some form of paperwork in order to make their separation legal. That is inaccurate. In reality, only one person in the relationship must intend to end the marital relationship. Furthermore, the parties must live separate and apart in different households. These two requirements are essential for a married couple to be considered “separated”.
A couple considering divorce should think long and hard and consult with experienced family attorneys, like ours at Batch, Poore, & Williams, before entering into a separation agreement. It’s a binding contract with aftereffects that could have dramatic impact on property division, child custody and child support features of a subsequent settlement.
Contact our Raleigh law offices today to discuss with us whether a separation agreement is an appropriate way to resolve your marital dispute. We want the very best for you, whatever decision is made. Our law firm is where clients come first.
It is important to note that neither party should be influenced or forced to sign an agreement. We want to stress the absolutely voluntary nature of this option. While a separation agreement generally does not become a court order, it is considered a contract under North Carolina law. Therefore, parties can depend on contract law and remedies under contract law to ensure compliance of the agreement. Parties may choice to file a breach of contract action against the opposing party if the opposing party is in violation of the agreement’s terms.