Speak with a Divorce and Family Law Attorney. If you are considering separating from your spouse, it is imperative that you meet with a family law attorney first. In North Carolina, many legal rights (and obligations) accompany the decision to separate and divorce. The big picture issues that arise when you separate from your spouse in North Carolina include dealing with your marital assets and debts, spousal support, custody of your children and child support.
Take Actions to Protect Your Separate and Marital Assets. In terms of personal property (silverware, dishes, televisions, sofas, etc.) you should take all items of separate property (property you brought to the marriage) and a reasonable amount of the marital property. Photograph any property that you are not taking with you.
Gather Financial Information. Gathering financial information before you separate can be critical. The attorney handling your separation and divorce will likely need the following (although your individual case may require additional documents – another reason to schedule a meeting with a divorce lawyer):
- Tax Returns – for the past three years;
- Pay Stubs – for the last three months;
- Current Mortgage Statements;
- Bank Statements – any checking, savings, money market, mutuals fund account for the last twelve months;
- Retirement Statements – any retirement account statements (example: 401(k) or pensions) for the past twelve months;
- Other Investment Accounts – statements for any certificates of deposit, stocks, bonds, etc.; and
- Credit Card Statements – for the past twelve months;
Get Your Own Bank Account. You should open your own bank account and start having any direct deposits made into that account. If you have a joint savings account, you may want to consider withdrawing some of those funds before you leave.
Put Aside Some Money. If you are a dependent spouse or have children, you may not be able to get into court immediately to get spousal and/or child support. It may take three to four months to get temporary spousal and/or child support. In the meantime, you need to be able to pay your bills.