North Carolina does not require separation agreements for the husband and wife to be considered separated. Generally, however, the best way of outlining each spouse’s obligations is through a properly drafted separation agreement. Separation agreements can outline spousal support, alimony, child support, child custody, and child visitation, and can greatly reduce the expense generally associated with divorce.
Separation agreements outline promises of what each spouse is required to perform in the future and should cover many of the same issues included in a divorce settlement. For example, separation agreements can tell the realtor how to proceed in selling the marital home, how to divide retirement accounts, and which debts each spouse is required for. Separation agreements can be particularly important when children are involved. Memories are not perfect so having a written agreement is best.
Financial obligations, including alimony and spousal support is generally best decided by consent. Similarly, if both parties are reasonable, child custody is almost always better decided via a separation agreement instead of a hearing in front of a judge. You know what is best for the family, and a separation agreement allows you the flexibility to do what is best. Judges have a limited period of time to consider the case and oftentimes make decisions that are not best.
Without a separation agreement, these decisions can be chaotic and troublesome for either person. It is very healthy to consider your spouse as more of a business partner with separate and distinct interests instead of an emotional companion. Having a written separation agreement setting forth everyone’s roles and responsibilities makes your life easier. Another benefit of separation agreements it that by agreeing to terms without resorting to court hearings and trials, you generally save considerable time and expense.