North Carolina is a “no fault” state where divorce is based on one year of separation. A divorce is simply the end of the marital relationship with or without the resolution of any of the underlying marital issues. The entry of a judgment of an absolute divorce is a relatively simple process, but the effects are significant if you have not included additional claims to protect your rights. The failure to make claims for equitable distribution or alimony prior to the entry of a divorce judgment will generally exclude your right to assert certain claims.

You need to be aware of the impact of a divorce on provisions in a will, health care powers of attorney, financial (or durable) Powers of attorney designating your former spouse as your attorney-in-fact, existing beneficiary designations you might have on any life insurance, group life and accidental death plans, deferred compensation or retirement plans 401(k) plans, Company Severance plans, employee savings accounts, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA’s), other death benefit designations, and health insurance coverage..

By virtue of being married, the law imposes certain legal rights and responsibilities between spouses as it affects both spouses’ financial obligations, property rights, and custodial and visitation and support rights with regard to the children until a divorce is entered. While you may be physically separated, you are still legally married and without a separation agreement to settle these rights and obligations between you, you leave yourself open for potential problems.

At Gabriel Berry Weston & Wells, L.L.P., our goal is to work out a comprehensive, global settlement of all issues including assisting clients with pre-nuptial agreements, post-nuptial agreements and family partnership agreements.