Both spouses agree – their marriage is over. But then they are often left wondering: what do they do next?
Before anyone can get a divorce in North Carolina, a few conditions must be met. One condition requires spouses to wait a year and a day from the date of separation before they can officially file for divorce.
Separation is one of the requirements before divorce
There are two criteria that spouses must meet before they can obtain a divorce, including:
- One spouse must live in North Carolina for at least six months before they can file for divorce; and
- Spouses must be separated for one year and one day.
Spouses must meet these conditions, regardless of whether they have children. There are a few exceptions, but spouses generally cannot move forward with their divorce until these two requirements are satisfied.
What qualifies as separation?
North Carolina does not have a specific process that spouses must follow to separate before the divorce. That is because this separation is only a physical separation, not a legal separation.
There are a few elements spouses must meet for their separation to qualify:
- Spouses must be living separately, often in different homes; and
- At least one spouse must have the intention for this separation to be permanent.
The separation begins when these two elements are fulfilled.
However, there a few things that spouses should know about this separation period:
- It is important for spouses to note the date their separation begins, so they know when they can move forward and file for divorce. This can often be recorded through a text message or an email to the other spouse stating when the date of separation is, meaning they will begin to live separate and apart.
- A separation agreement is not necessary for this physical separation, though it can be helpful. Some spouses find that establishing a separation agreement helps to protect their rights and their family’s best interests, as well as a means to inform their divorce negotiations and agreements.
- Even if spouses do not opt for a separation agreement, they should consider details including how they will divide parenting responsibilities and assets.
Preparing for a divorce can be stressful. Separating for a year may be a requirement, but it also provides both spouses with the time they might need to get accustomed to the changes divorce will bring and prepare themselves for the official divorce process.