Separation in North Carolina
Separation is one of the most difficult and painful things you can experience. It is even more complicated because of the prevalence of common myths about separation and because of the multitude of options available to you. Our goal is to help you understand and streamline the process so that you can efficiently resolve your situation and begin to move forward.
IS THERE LEGAL SEPARATION IN NC?
To begin, one of the most common questions we are asked is for help making a separation "legal" or for help achieving a "legal" separation. In North Carolina, there is no lawsuit required to be filed to become "legally separated." In fact, you do not have to have a Separation Agreement to be separated under the law, however, you would have no protection without doing so. A separation is simply the physical separation of two spouses with the intent of one of the spouses to remain permanently separated; meaning that you are living in different homes. Once you are physically separated you are separated in the eyes of the law, there is nothing else that needs to be done to make your separation "legal." A word of caution, however, once one spouse leaves the marital residence the spouse is not entitled to return to the residence without the consent of the spouse who remained, even if both spouses' names are on the deed. In fact, the spouse who moved out can be arrested for Domestic Criminal Trespass, N.C. General Statute § 14-134.3, if they return without consent so if you are thinking about moving out make sure you have already made a plan about where you will live for the time being.
However, that certainly doesn't mean that the process is done or complete. You will need to have a Separation Agreement or a Parenting Agreement drafted and properly executed to ensure that all of your rights are protected. A Separation Agreement can resolve the issues of child custody, child support, spousal support, and property division. We encourage all couples to have a valid and binding Separation Agreement either before separating or shortly thereafter. A Parenting Agreement only covers issues of custody and/or child support and may be a good option for parents who were never married while a Comprehensive Separation Agreement can resolve all remaining marital issues.
HOW WE WILL HELP YOU
The Law Offices of Tiffany A. Lesnik is more than willing to assist you with the process of separating and the creation of a Separation Agreement. There are a variety of options for the creation of an Agreement and the process of coming to an Agreement, which are outlined for you below. It is our goal to simplify the process and make it as painless for you as possible. We will be there to guide you through the process and answer any questions and concerns you may have. As a part of this service, we are willing to conduct consultations by phone ore-mail if you wish to do so. However, we are certainly willing to meet with you to discuss the process and your options and we would be more than happy to schedule a consultation with you.We offer three distinct and separate services to you in regards to a Separation Agreement. These options can be explained more completely in an initial consultation which can be scheduled with the attorney by contacting us here.
CONTESTED/COMPLEX SEPARATION AGREEMENT
This service is for couples who are just starting the separation process & who have or may have a somewhat contentious relationship. The attorney will work with you in drafting a separation agreement to present to your spouse. The attorney will also negotiate with your spouse for you regarding any proposed changes. There are two options for fees for the Complex Separation Agreement. The first is a one-time flat fee which begin as low as $4,000.00. The second option is to sign a contract for hourly billing where you pay the attorney's hourly rate. There is no maximum or minimum fee; you pay for the number of hours spent on your case. You would need to put down a refundable deposit and would then be billed throughout the process.
UNCONTESTED/SIMPLE SEPARATION AGREEMENT
The second service is the Uncontested Separation Agreement or Simple Separation Agreement. This service is for couples who have already reached an agreement on all of the issues resulting from their separation (usually through mediation but including privately) and simply need their agreement drafted into a Separation Agreement. The attorney will take your agreement and draft it into a binding Separation Agreement. You will be able to review it with the attorney and revisions can be made. However, the attorney will not negotiate with your spouse on proposed changes; you will have to handle negotiations and reach an agreement privately. There are two options for fees for the Uncontested Separation Agreement. The first is a one-time flat fee of $750.00. The second option is to sign a contract for hourly billing where you pay the attorney's hourly rate. There is no maximum or minimum fee; you pay for the number of hours spent on your case. You would need to put down a refundable deposit and would then be billed throughout the process.
To start the process, we will need you to complete an information sheet, separation agreement questionnaire, and sign and return a contract for services – all of which are available for you to download on this page. They can be returned by e-mail, by fax (919-400-4593), or by mail (to P.O. Box 20071, Raleigh, NC 27619). Payment can be made online by credit card here or by check. A time can also be arranged for you to drop-off your paperwork and payment with the attorney if preferred.
You will receive receipt of any payment and confirmation of the payment and documentation from the attorney. The attorney will be available to speak with you or by e-mail for any questions or concerns you may have. As mentioned, the services and options available to you can be explained and addressed more fully with you during a consultation with the attorney. Please contact our office to schedule a consultation.
CONTRACTS AND FORMS TO DOWNLOAD
The following contracts and forms are available for you to download, complete, and return. Please contact us with questions and we would be willing to help you and e-mail you any necessary forms. You can return completed forms to our office by e-mail, fax (919-400-4593), or mail (P.O. Box 20071, Raleigh, NC 27619) or by scheduling a time to come in.