Experienced family law attorneys here at Woodruff Family Law Group in Greensboro deal with property division issues, such as separation agreements, on a regular basis. Separation agreements are generally entered into by two parties that are married, but separated. A separation agreement is a contract between a married couple that deals with a variety of issues inherent in the divorce process, most especially the division of property.
These types of agreements are authorized by North Carolina statute. N.C.G.S. §52-10.1 states that “any married couple is hereby authorized to execute a separation agreement not inconsistent with public policy which shall be legal, valid, and binding in all respects; provided, that the separation agreement must be in writing and acknowledged by both parties before a certifying officer.”
By meeting the requirements listed in the above statute, you can ensure that your separation agreement is valid and enforceable. Both sides should meet with attorneys to make sure that their interests are adequately represented and all relevant issues are addressed in the separation agreement.
There are frequent misunderstandings about what a separation agreement is, its legal effect, and what the agreement can contain as its terms. To give you more of an idea and clear up some common misunderstandings and confusion, here are some frequently asked questions regarding separation agreements.
Frequently asked questions:
Am I separated if I do not have a signed separation agreement?
Answer: If you and your estranged spouse are living under separate roofs with the intent of one of you to be separated, you are separated under North Carolina law. You do not need to have a signed separation agreement in order to be legally separated.
Can I settle all the issues in a Separation Agreement?
Answer: You can definitely settle your property division or equitable distribution in a Separation Agreement. In fact, the Agreement will likely be named "Separation Agreement and Property Settlement."
Addressing alimony in a separation agreement is tricky for both the payer and the payee. The pros and cons are extremely important and should be thoroughly discussed with a very knowledgeable family lawyer. The issues of modification of alimony (spousal) support in an agreement are complicated and should not be taken lightly. Thus, the advice of an experienced family lawyer can help you navigate the difficulties of drafting a separation agreement
Generally, child support and child custody should NOT be in a separation agreement. Again, this can be a grey area that you need to discuss with an experienced family lawyer.
Overall, separation agreements can be a way for individuals to address their concerns and provide for the division of property in a way that is equitable. The involvement of attorneys on both sides can ensure that such an agreement addresses the relevant issues and that both sides are okay with the terms agreed upon in the document. If you are considering divorce, a separation agreement can be a useful contract that deals with some of the big issues that come hand in hand with divorce.
*Pursuant to the Rules of Professional Responsibility, the results of this client under their specific facts may differ from your results under the facts of your case.