When is the date of separation?

A separation between a married couple occurs when you no longer reside at the same address with the intent to remain permanently separated. Living in separate areas of the marital home or property does not meet the requirement for separation: you must physically live at two separate addresses.

Do I have to do anything to make it “legal”?

In North Carolina, there is no requirement to file anything in order to establish a legal separation. A separation is legally valid so long as the above requirement of living at separate addresses has been met.

Why is a legal separation important?

In order to establish certain things in the divorce process, you need to have a date of separation. An example in which the date of separation is important is an absolute divorce. In order to be granted an absolute divorce, the spouses must be separated for one whole year. Another example of when a separation date is important is in an equitable distribution (legal term for property division) lawsuit. In an equitable distribution lawsuit, it is important to establish what the fair market value of your assets were on the date of separation, so the judge can determine how to divide up the assets.

What if my spouse and I get back together?

Regardless of whether you and your spouse reconcile, the date of separation for absolute divorce and equitable distribution is the date of your most recent separation. Regarding an absolute divorce, if you have been separated for almost a year and you reconcile with your spouse, you have “reset” the one-year waiting period if you once again separate. The law of reconciliation can be quite complicated; therefore, it is always important to have the assistance of a divorce lawyer.