If you are separated in North Carolina, then you cannot reside in the same home, except under very limited circumstances. This separation waiting period must go uninterrupted, for a minimum of a year and a day. If you decide to pursue an absolute divorce, it’s critical that you document the ways in which you have followed this state law.

Here are some additional things you should know about separation in North Carolina.

Filing for separation

North Carolina does not require that you file for separation, although its highly recommended that couples with property, assets and children consider formalizing an agreement with a family law attorney. How to cover joint expenses, addressing parenting time and division of property can all be considered during this transition period.

Court ordered separation

In some rare instances, it may be that you are separated but cannot agree on the terms of the separation. Finding a second residency can be expensive and emotionally draining, and it’s not always clear who should move out. If things get contentious, the court can order a legal separation. This is referred to as a divorce from bed and board. Although the court may order that a couple live separately, they are still legally married.

Dating while separated

While newfound freedom may encourage you to start dating, you should consider how this may impact your divorce proceeding. In North Carolina, the laws around separation and divorce may affect your decision. While separated, the marriage is still official. Dating while still married can have an impact on the legal proceedings in your divorce matter so make sure you discuss it with your family law attorney.

No matter how you feel about the separation waiting period, it is in your best interest to follow the law. Try to think about this waiting period as an opportunity to focus on the important next steps for the upcoming years in transition, and in doing so, begin to set new goals for your future.