Blog What Are The Requirements For Separation In North Carolina?

What Are The Requirements For Separation In North Carolina?

Many adults are unsure of how to proceed when the time comes to dissolve their marriage. The steps to take in order to end the marriage can seem difficult especially if you are unfamiliar with your state’s laws on divorce. 

Fortunately, North Carolina has clear guidelines in place for those seeking to end their marriage within the state. The first step to end the marriage is to establish a legal separation from a spouse. Understanding the state’s requirements for legally separating from a spouse can make the transition to divorce easier to navigate. 

The Steps of Separation In North Carolina

Initiating a Separation

Legal separation in North Carolina is initiated when one party formally leaves the marital home and establishes residency in a new location. Changing rooms within the marital home is not considered the initiation of a separation. One party must leave the home and establish a new residency at another property. The separation should be the first step in seeking a formal divorce and not be a temporary measure. 

Legal Agreement 

Establishing a legal agreement that outlines the separation will help both parties when the time comes to obtain a divorce. Written by a lawyer, a legal separation agreement should address all significant parts of your life. This includes, but is not limited to, real estate division, debts, and finances. The separation agreement will help you to navigate the new chapter of your life. 

Intention of Separating 

At least one party must intend to be separated from their spouse. This means the separation should not be caused by accident or circumstances outside of their control. It must be the direct intention of at least one party to become separated from their partner. Even if both parties do not want to end the marriage, the desire of the party who initiates the legal separation takes precedence. 

Establishing Residence 

One spouse must reside within North Carolina in order to obtain a legal separation within the state. A residence is established by living in North Carolina for at least six months prior to initiating the separation. Two parties from another state cannot visit North Carolina briefly and then attempt to obtain a legal separation within the state. No other state should be able to claim jurisdiction over the proceedings based upon the residencies of both spouses. 

Duration of Separation

Both parties must live separately for a minimum of one year. This is required prior to filing for divorce in North Carolina. Time spent living in different rooms in the same residence cannot be counted towards the minimum separation time frame. Each person must maintain their own residency independently from their former spouse with one spouse typically vacating the shared home or both partners moving to new locations. 


If children are involved your separation agreement could include decisions regarding the minor children in your life. This could include, but not be limited to, custody, visitation, and support of minor children. The agreement can outline how you and your spouse divide time with the children you share and establish who has primary custody of your joint children. It can also clarify details such as who carries joint children on insurance policies and who pays for extracurricular activities. Including matters regarding your joint children in your agreement can help you in the future. 

Proof of Separation 

In order for your separation to be considered legal in the eyes of the court in North Carolina, there must be proof. The most common acceptable forms of proof of separation are a lease or rental agreement showing that one spouse has moved or utility bills (cable, power, internet, etc. ) at a different address. A North Carolina voters registration card can also be used to show a change of address that verifies a separation or a driver’s license. When a driver’s license is used, the date on the updated license helps to prove the duration of the separation. Additionally, military orders that confirm an out-of-state move are proof of separation. 

We Can Help You Navigate The Process 

Obtaining a legal separation in North Carolina can be difficult without qualified legal help. In order to navigate the process, it is extremely important to obtain the assistance of an experienced family attorney who can represent your best interests throughout the separation. 

The attorneys at Schulz Stephenson Law are standing by to help you. We have decades of combined experience aiding people just like you get a fresh start after ending a marriage. Feel free to contact our offices at your convenience to schedule an initial consultation so that we can begin providing you with the legal assistance that you deserve.

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