Three Short Points on Separation and Divorce

Separation in North Carolina begins the day the parties begin to live separate apart from each other and continues until the parties are divorced.  There are several things that will help a client during the process as well as legal issues to keep in mind.

Considering Separation:

  1.  Check your finances:  Run your credit report, document health insurance, mortgage, loans, and other monthly bills, costs, and expenses  Begin to gather supporting documentation.
  2.  Obtain a credit card:  Obtain a credit card in your sole name.  That way, you have an emergency source of funds, if necessary.
  3. Consult with an Attorney:  You will save substantially by consulting with an attorney well in advance of separation.  There are many legal issues at play that need to be addressed.


  1.  Continue to Monitor your finances:  Be proactive and don’t overspend.  Make sure your spouse is not using a jointly held credit card.
  2.  Consult your attorney before any major purchase:  Your attorney needs to know well in advance if you are looking to purchase a home or automobile.  A contract may need to be prepared to allow you to do this.
  3. Do not begin a new relationship:  There are significant legal consequences regarding child custody and alimony if a spouse begins to date prematurely.  Always consult with your attorney first.
  4.  Avoid “DIY” Separation Agreements:  Often, the agreement is significantly lacking on establishing support, equitable division of property, inheritance rights, the ability to contract, and other points of law that should to be addressed by in a properly drafted Separation Agreement by an attorney.  Once signed, its difficult to undo.

Absolute Divorce:

  1. Run your credit report.
  2. See an attorney immediately.  Any property or support rights end when the Divorce is granted.  Verbal agreements are not enough.
  3. Make sure the documents are correct.

After the Divorce:

  1. Estate planning:  Meet with an estate attorney to execute new documents.  Your needs have now changed and your legal papers should as well.
  2. Change beneficiaries:  A divorce does not alter beneficiary declarations for life insurance, bank accounts, or any retirement/investment accounts.
  3. Execute any court orders or documentation that transfer retirement funds, jointly held bank accounts, investments, automobiles, or other property.


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