Last month, we discussed one possible avenue for resolving the issues that arise when separating from your spouse: a contractual document often referred to as “Separation and Property Settlement Agreement.” As with any contract, the parties to a separation agreement must mutually agree to its terms. It may be the case that two spouses cannot even bear to sit in the same room with one another, let alone come together in mutual agreement.
In these cases, a course of action will often depend on whether one spouse will agree to move out of the marital residence. Often, one spouse will voluntarily agree to vacate the residence. Once separated, one of the spouses can then initiate a lawsuit asking the court to equitably divide the marital property. A spouse may assert several claims at once, including claims for child custody, child support, attorney’s fees, post-separation support and alimony (if the circumstances warrant), all in conjunction with the property distribution claim.
In the case where one spouse refuses to move out and you are subjected to certain cruelties at the hand of your spouse (list of grounds for Divorce from Bed & Board are set out in N.C.G.S. § 50-7), the first filing with the court can include a claim for Divorce from Bed and Board. Filing this type of complaint is your way of asking the court to determine who should move out of the marital residence and who should stay. The court will take into consideration the grounds for Divorce from Bed and Board as they are set forth in the complaint. A spouse may join a claim for Divorce from Bed and Board with other claims for equitable distribution, child custody, child support, alimony, and post-separation support if the circumstances warrant.
The claims discussed above are complicated in nature. Rarely are any two cases identical, and your ability to bring certain claims or defenses will vary according to the particular facts of your case. This is why it is important to consult with an attorney if you are confronted with any of these issues, especially when you and your spouse just can’t get along!
Stay tuned for a new blog topic next month!