NC: Separation Agreements

Marital settlement agreements or separation agreements are documents signed by parties who plan to divorce but do not want a court to resolve their issues. Sometimes they are negotiated and agreed upon prior to filing of a divorce action, and sometimes they are developed while a case is pending in court. They are most often reached through negotiation or mediation, although there are cases where parties have privately agreed to the terms and simply wish to have their agreement memorialized in a legal fashion. In an agreement, you and your spouse can agree on the terms for custody, visitation, child support, alimony, property and debt division, and attorney fees and costs. But not divorce.  Divorces must be granted by a court and will require a court action.

To be enforceable in North Carolina, the agreements must be in writing and signed by both parties who confirm they have engaged in full and complete financial disclosure.

If you and your spouse feel that you can reach an out-of-court settlement and avoid a trial, you should contact our office to discuss the drafting of the necessary document. Since the court will enforce it if needed it is very important that the language used correctly reflects you and your spouse’s understanding. There are many documents and on-line forms on the internet, but it is important that you speak to an experienced attorney in your area to get things rights. Failing to do so can be very expensive and have great consequences.