Divorce & Separation

The very word can be intimidating, but the process does not have to be. It is an ending and a beginning, which does not have to negatively impact your life, the life of your spouse, or the lives of your children.  When two people marry, they join together in a legal contract where they are seen as one legal entity. The legal process of divorce allows that one legal entity to separate the couple into individuals.

Spouses can choose to separate from one another either formally or informally. Most of the time a separation is achieved when the couple decides to remain separate and apart from one another, and either party moves out of the marital home. Regardless of whether there is a formal separation agreement or a pending court action, once the spuses have remained apart for one year, either party can then obtain a divorce.

However, an informal separation may leave the Husband and/or Wife vulnerable during future legal proceedings.  In contrast, a formal separation between spouses can protect the interests and legal rights of each spouse. There are two ways a formal separation can be achieved. First, the spouses can sign and notarize a contract, called a "Separation Agreement" which not only states the date of separation, but can also: divide the assets and debts of the marriage (including who will live in the marital home); create a parenting agreement for the children of the marriage; provide for child support or other cash flow agreements; and give each spouse the freedom to move forward with his or her life, such as dating others.

Alternatively, a formal separation can also be achieved through a Court Order. To obtain a Court Order, one of the spouses must initiate a lawsuit with the Court alleging that the other spouse is at fault for the dissolution of marriage. Some of the reasons that would demonstrate fault are: adultery; abandonment; domestic violence; and, excessive use of alcohol or drugs.


Office Hours

Gabriela J. Matthews
& Associates, P.A.
100 E. Parrish St., Suite 400
Durham, NC 27701

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Office Hours:  Monday - Friday
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Phone: (919) 956-7888 
Fax: (855) 422-6288

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