SEPARATION: When parties separate there are several different issues that must be decided. There is no law which requires the parties to complete a separation agreement, but a separation agreement can be a good tool to resolve issues incident to the dissolution of a divorce without resorting to litigation. In North Carolina, a separation agreement must be signed by both parties and notarized. This separation agreement becomes a contract between the parties enforceable by breach of contract remedies. In North Carolina, a separation agreement can be incorporated into a divorce judgment to become an Order of the court. If the agreement is incorporated, then the Court has the power to enforce the agreement through the contempt powers of the Court. If the agreement is not incorporated into the divorce judgment, then the non-breaching party can bring a breach of contract action against the breaching party.
DIVORCE FROM BED AND BOARD: A divorce from bed and board is essentially a judicial legal separation based on the fault of one party. This is NOT a divorce, and the parties will still be married until the courts grant an absolute divorce. In North Carolina (NC Gen. Stat. 50-7), the courts can grant a divorce from bed and board for the following reasons:
Abandons his or her family
Maliciously turns the other out of the marital home
Cruel or barbarous treatment that endangers the life of the other
Offers such indignities to the person of the other as to render his or her condition intolerable and life burdensome
One party becomes an excessive user of alcohol or drugs so as to render the condition of the other spouse intolerable and the life of that spouse burdensome
ABSOLUTE DIVORCE: In North Carolina, to file for an absolute divorce, which completely dissolves the bonds of matrimony, you must be separated for at least one year. Essentially, in NC you must wait one year and one day to file a divorce complaint.