A separation agreement is a contract. Under North Carolina law, the separation agreement has to be in writing and signed by both parties in front of a notary public. The relevant part of the statute reads:
52-10.1. Separation agreements. Any married couple is hereby authorized to execute a separation agreement not inconsistent with public policy which shall be legal, valid, and binding in all respects; provided, that the separation agreement must be in writing and acknowledged by both parties before a certifying officer as defined in G.S. 52-10(b). Such certifying officer must not be a party to the contract.
An important point is that if these requirements are not met then there is no separation agreement. For example, a promise made in an email from one spouse to the other is not enforceable as a separation agreement.
What may a separation agreement cover? Typically, the agreement covers four main issues and then addresses a series of waivers. The four substantive issues that most agreement addresses are:
- child custody – joint and legal custody and schedules
- child support – amount, payment dues dates, health insurance
- alimony/spousal support – amount and termination provisions
- property and equitable distribution – assets, debts, and distribution
The waivers in a typical separation agreement are:
- waiver of estate rights and claims
- releases of other claims between the parties (and sometimes third parties)
- often there is a waiver of further financial disclosures
Those are the basics.
The next step…
Separation agreements can be very complicated or relatively simple, depending on the circumstances of the parties.
Why would you choose a separation agreement? First, if successfully negotiated it gives the parties the decision making. If a judge decides the judge has that power. Second, it is less expensive than litigation. Third, it is a private document and the separation agreement is typically not made part of a public record or database.
"Scott was wonderful throughout the long process and it was clear to me that Scott was knowledgeable of case-law and the Wake County Court system, as well as being especially strong in court. His representation resulted in additional parenting time following the temporary custody trial and since the case proceeded to a full trial, I was ultimately awarded the custody arrangement I was seeking. My daughters reside in Wake County and now if my ex-wife chooses to relocate, I’ll have full legal custody of the girls. Throughout the process, Scott was responsive, provided extremely helpful advice, and genuinely cared about the outcome of my case. I would strongly recommended Scott’s representation for custody matters."
"Cared About My Situation"
I was out of options and Scott was there to help. I have spoken to or met many attorney's in Wake County and Scott was the only one that REALLY actually cared about my situation. It sounds cliche' but it's not. I could clearly tell that Scott had given a lot of thought to my case. Scott has extensive knowledge of the law. That knowledge coupled with his cerebral approach and courtroom presence were a savior. - Ken
"Scott Allen and his team were sensational during my divorce proceedings. They kept me well-informed of the procedures, requirements, and options. They took the time to explain to me at every step of the decisions and options as we moved forward in my life. Their support, knowledge and presence were comforting in my time of need and help me get through the ordeal. While no divorce is pleasant outcome they help me secure my life and begin a new chapter with a fresh start. Their extensive knowledge of the law and arbitration and negotiation skills were invaluable in getting a good settlement and resolution. I am very pleased that I selected Scott and his team to represent me. I would emphatically recommend Scott and to anyone who is facing a divorce or possibility of a divorce."
"Fought for My Rights"
I wanted to go to court and he went with it. During the initial hearing and all the subsequent hearings he fought for my rights and presented my case diligently and proved the claims by the other party to be false. Most of the lawyers, will tell you settle as it saves them and the court time, but it might not be always in your best interest. Scott is not those lawyers, he really cares about his clients and is not afraid to litigate or fight for his client’s right in the court. - Susan
"I Began to Sleep Better at Night"
Scott Allen took my divorce case after my first lawyer failed to stand for my rights.Scott took the case and I began to sleep better at night. My marriage ended from abuse so I was very weary. - Felicia