Separation is a requirement for — and often a preliminary stage to — divorce in North Carolina. The statute states that you must separate for one year before divorce.

However, this may not be as much of a restriction as you might think. Here are some of the details of separation with regard to ending your marriage.

Requirements for separation

As explained by the North Carolina Judicial Branch, although separation is a legal requirement of divorce, you do not have to offer evidence to simply claim separation.

Generally speaking, the court would typically accept your word, especially when your spouse agrees — or at least does not object to the divorce on those grounds.

Options regarding agreements

In addition to the relatively loose requirements for establishing separation, formal separation agreements could also offer you an opportunity to negotiate some of the aspects of your divorce. These documents could potentially include concerns such as child custody and child support.

Agreements are not necessary to start or even to conclude the year-long period. However, forming one could benefit you.

Opportunities during separation

Divorce often takes time. Delays are especially likely if you have complications, such as custody disagreements, nonstandard support needs or complex, high-value marital assets. The separation agreement could provide a framework for resolving these issues.

This could be an advantage, as it might allow you to avoid the public and costly process of a formal divorce trial. After resolving disagreements during separation negotiations, you could then incorporate some of your decisions into your final divorce documents.

North Carolina divorce laws differ significantly from those of other states. However, if you understand how to navigate the system, prioritize your actions and negotiate effectively, your divorce process may proceed more smoothly and quickly than you expect.