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What Goes Into a Separation Agreement in North Carolina?

Questions.Answered

In order to move on peacefully from a marriage that is ending, a couple may wish to enter into a separation agreement. These are also called “post-marital agreements.” A separation agreement is a way to privately and efficiently resolve divorce-related issues, including alimony, asset division, child custody, and child support. While these agreements are not required for separation, they may help to make the process of splitting up easier. A couple may be considered “separated” simply by living in separate residences, with the intention to do so permanently. All of this said…

What Goes Into a North Carolina Separation Agreement?

The terms of a separation agreement depend entirely on the parties entering into it. While each divorcing couple has unique issues that must be addressed in the agreement, the following terms tend to be universally included:

  • Marital residence – If the parties jointly own the marital home or other real estate, ownership of property will need to be addressed. The parties may choose to sell it, or one party may agree to relinquish their ownership interest in exchange for money or other property from their former spouse.
  • Personal property division – Instead of dividing assets through a legal action called “equitable distribution” of property, the parties can instead stipulate in the separation agreement how they will divide their personal property. This can include division of tangible property (furniture, home entertainment equipment, cars, etc.) as well as intangible property (stocks, bonds, mutual funds, IRAs, savings accounts, etc.). The separation agreement should make clear that, by entering into the contract, both parties waive their rights to equitable distribution.
  • Future debts and liabilities – It is important to express in a separation agreement that neither party will be liable for any future debts incurred by the other. It should also be stated that both parties are prohibited from using the other individual’s name to secure assets.
  • Alimony – The separation agreement can also establish an alimony arrangement, which can call for alimony to be paid in one lump sum, or on a continued basis. The agreement should establish the amount, the date it must be paid, and the interest that will be charged for failure to make timely payment(s). It should also state the date on which alimony will end.
  • Child custody and child support – If the parties have children, they may use the separation agreement to establish a plan for child custody and child support. If a court finds that these terms are not in the child’s best interests, then they can be modified; however, it is important to note that, unless there is proof to the contrary, North Carolina law presumes that the terms of the agreement do serve the child’s best interests. These terms can establish who has physical and legal custody of the child; visitation rights and schedules; and even state with whom the child will spend vacations and holidays. The agreement can also set forth who will pay for the child’s education and the amount of child support.

Finally, it is worth noting that the separation agreement should also establish how potential reconciliation would affect the contract (which state’s law will govern and also explain the process that must be followed if a party seeks to amend or rescind the agreement.

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