How do I get a legal separation?

There is technically no such thing as a “legal separation” in North Carolina. You are legally separated when at least one spouse has left the residence with the intent to live separate and apart and to cease the marital relationship. If you require legal documents demonstrating your separation prior to divorce, the law provides several options, but none are required for you to be “separated.”

How long do you have to be separated before getting divorced in NC?

In North Carolina, you must be separated for a period of one year and one day prior to filing for absolute divorce.

Am I separated if we live in separate bedrooms?

No. The law requires separated spouses to reside in separate residences, and separate addresses are the best evidence of this.

I live in North Carolina but my children live in another state, where do I file/seek custody/visitation for them?

Typically, the action is proper in the state where the children have lived for the past six months. However, the specific circumstances will determine where custody cases are properly located, and an attorney will need to advise you in this regard in your initial consultation.

How do I get my spouse removed from the marital residence?

There is no legal mechanism to have your spouse evicted from the home to commence the separation period. There are some legal theories that can be tried, but they can be expensive and time-consuming. You should speak to an attorney if you desire to start the legal process, but neither you nor your spouse is willing to leave the marital home. We will help you understand your options.

If I move out, will my spouse claim abandonment?

That is a technical legal argument and the facts are very important. If both parties agree someone must move, abandonment is not an issue. Because separation requires one party to leave, most of the time the issue is not relevant to your case. If you are unsure, you need to consult with an attorney before you leave.

I live in North Carolina with my children, but their Father or Mother lives in another state. Where do I file/seek child support from them?

The specific circumstances will determine where child support jurisdiction is proper, and a family law attorney will need to advise you regarding jurisdiction in your initial consultation.

Do I have to let the other parent see the children if they do not pay child support?

In the situation described here, child support and custody are unrelated. Parents see their children when they do not pay support, and parents pay support even if they are not getting to see their children. The focus is on the children and their needs, not the parents’ needs, in most court actions.

Do I have to go to court?

There are many options for resolving your case amicably. In your initial consultation, the attorney can advise you regarding mediation,  arbitration, settlement conferences, and collaborative law practice. Please visit our page on alternatives to court for more information.

What is collaborative law and do any attorneys in your office practice collaboratively?

When spouses agree to utilize the collaborative law process, they are committing to resolving their domestic matters amicably, outside of litigation, with the assistance of their specially trained collaborative attorneys. Please visit our page on Collaborative Divorce for more information.

Do you accept any pro bono cases?

We work with each of our clients to ensure reasonable payment depending on the type and complexity of each case, and each client’s respective financial situation. We are excellent stewards of client funds. Pro bono cases are accepted at the discretion of the firm’s founder, and consideration must be given  to the number of cases we are handling as well as the difficulty of the situation.  We can and will give you referrals to other agencies who handle civil litigation at reduced rates or pro bono.

Please visit our podcast page for information about other frequently asked questions.