Legal Separation Agreements
Separation Agreements in North Carolina & South Carolina
Many separating couples choose to address issues of child custody, child support, alimony, and equitable distribution by way of a separation agreement. This is a written, notarized, and legally enforceable contract signed by both people involved that outlines how a couple will deal with their assets, children, and more once they divorce.
Separation agreements have many benefits over litigation. Most importantly, they allow the parties involved to resolve their issues through a private contract and come to mutually beneficial terms rather than bringing the case to a judge for third-party resolution.
No matter your circumstances, it is important to enlist the help of an experienced attorney while in the midst of a legal separation in NC or SC. At Collins Family & Elder Law Group, we know that financial, property, and custody issues can be overwhelming. With the right legal assistance from our team, however, you can resolve these issues in a way that ensures the protection of everything that matters to you.
Is a Separation Agreement Right for You?
Separation agreements are an excellent alternative to litigation for those who are parting ways amicably, but they aren’t for everyone. These agreements are not meant for those who need to create complicated child custody provisions or divide high-value property. The mechanisms for doing so are relatively weak, are not typically enforced by local police, and are not always binding in court.
A separation agreement is ideal for two people who are splitting up peacefully and have already separated or intend to separate after the agreement is finalized. In a best-case scenario, there would also be mutual trust between the parties, as well as decent credit scores and a level of financial independence on both sides.
What Makes a Separation Agreement Valid?
The following are the conditions you must meet for a separation agreement in NC to become legally valid:
- The agreement must be in written form
- The document must be signed by both parties, without coercion, and notarized
- Those involved must not yet be divorced
- The document must be created without undue influence, fraud, force, false disclosure of assets, inability to consent, or mistakes
Advantages & Disadvantages of Separation Agreements in North & South Carolina
One of the primary draws of separation agreements is that they aren’t as expensive as consent decrees, which usually land in court. While separation agreements can still be costly if you have extensive negotiations or revisions to make, they still won’t cost as much as the litigation associated with consent decrees.
Another reason people prefer separation agreements to alternative solutions is that the parties involved have more control over the outcome. If you opt for litigation, you won’t have any say in the matter. Your case will be turned over to an uninvolved third party who doesn’t fully know the conditions of the case as well as you do, and the litigation can take years to resolve.
Separation agreements, on the other hand, give you direct input on the terms of the settlement, and in turn, the agreement can be finalized faster so you can move on with your life sooner.
You know your situation better than any judge, so don’t put your case in the hands of a stranger. Work with Collins Family & Elder Law Group to create a separation agreement designed to work out favorably for everyone involved.
Qualification for a North or South Carolina Separation Agreement
Laws surrounding legal separation differ from state to state. In NC, you are considered legally separated when you no longer live with your spouse and do not intend to cohabit again in the future. You cannot live in the same household or have plans to reconcile, and you must be living in different homes in separate locations. As long as you meet these conditions, there are no other qualifying conditions for a legal separation in NC.
There is no such thing as legal separation in SC, as the state does not differentiate between separation and divorce. If you reside in SC and are separating from your spouse, you can request an Order of Separation and Maintenance from the court, which serves to protect both parties during the separation period. This court action is different from a separation agreement in that it does not require that you divorce your partner in the end.
Do I Really Need an Attorney for My Separation Agreement?
When it comes to decisions as difficult as legal separation, it helps to have a knowledgeable, caring lawyer on your side. It’s especially important to get a lawyer to protect your rights if you have a rocky relationship with your spouse or conflicting views, differing goals, and separate priorities.
Please note that a separation agreement drastically affects your rights and responsibilities, so you should never try to create one on your own—the effects of an improperly drafted or executed agreement can last for many years.
If you feel that your spouse is attempting to overpower you during negotiations, reach out to Collins Family & Elder Law Group. Our attorneys can listen to your story and approach your case with compassion and professionalism. We will make sure you know and understand all your rights and options so that you can feel confident that you are making the best decision for your family.
Our team has the necessary knowledge, compassion, and practice to guide your family in the right direction and help you resolve your legal issues. If you are ready to move forward, we are here to help you in North Carolina and South Carolina.
Separation Agreement FAQ
Schedule a confidential consultation with our team today; call (704) 289-3250 or contact us online to get started.
Can a separation agreement be used as evidence in divorce proceedings?
Because separation agreements are not required to get a divorce in North or South Carolina, they are often not considered usable evidence in divorce proceedings. Separation agreements are typically used to settle the various aspects of a divorce outside of the court system; if the case eventually goes to family court, the judge may rule on the aspects of the divorce regardless of what is outlined in the separation agreement.
That being said, a separation agreement may count as evidence in divorce proceedings in certain circumstances. If both spouses agree to incorporate the separation agreement into the final divorce judgment, the agreement could be considered evidence.
The best thing to do in these situations is to enlist the assistance of an experienced family law attorney, like ours at Collins Family Law Group. We can help you review your legal options and devise a strategy designed to protect your rights. Get in touch with us today to learn more.
Is a separation agreement necessary if spouses agree on all terms of separation?
Separation agreements are not legally required, regardless of whether the couple agrees or disagrees with the terms of separation. However, even if you and your spouse agree on everything, it is a good idea to have a separation agreement in place. Separation agreements can provide a clear structure for the various aspects of your separation and eventual divorce, such as how assets and debts will be divided, what will be considered marital vs. separate property, whether either spouse will receive spousal support, and how child custody and support will work. Having all this in writing can save significant time, money, and stress as you navigate the separation and divorce processes.
Can a separation agreement be modified after it’s been signed?
In North and South Carolina, separation agreements are legally binding—but this does not mean that they are set in stone. In both states, separation agreements can be modified after they have been signed. For changes to be considered valid and enforceable, they must be made in writing. Additionally, both parties will have to agree to and sign the new separation agreement after the modifications have been made.