Married couples in North Carolina or elsewhere who are unhappy with the status of their relationships may pursue a legal separation or divorce. The key difference between the two is that a couple is still married during the separation period. This means that an individual can remain on a spouse’s health insurance policy or make medical decisions on a spouse’s behalf. Those who are separated retain the right to inherit property in the event that their husbands or wives pass on.
It is also important to note that those who are separated do not have the right to remarry. However, by retaining their marital status, couples will have an easier path to reconciliation if they are able to work through their relationship issues. An individual who is legally separated from his or her spouse may be entitled to alimony as well as visitation or custody rights to a child.
In some cases, assets and debts that are acquired during the separation period are considered to be separate property. This is often true if a couple separates with no intention of getting back together. If a couple is going through a trial separation, assets and debts acquired during that time are typically considered to be joint property. It is worth noting that some states require couples to separate before they are allowed to file for divorce.
Individuals who are seeking a divorce may first want or need to separate from their spouses. A legal representative may be able to help a person learn more about separating from a partner and the role it could play in the process of ending a marriage. Legal counsel may also explain the process of obtaining spousal support, a portion of joint assets or child custody rights in a final divorce settlement.