Suing Your Former Spouse for Breach of Contract in North Carolina
Any attorney worth their salt will tell you that it is usually preferable to create a separation agreement rather than going through a divorce trial in Charlotte. Divorce trials can be drawn-out, expensive, and stressful. In addition, divorce trials put you at the mercy of a judge, and you give up the control that you would have otherwise enjoyed if you came to your own separation agreement. When you work with your spouse outside of court to create a separation agreement, you can negotiate and compromise on a range of contentious issues, from child custody to who gets the family dog.
However, separation agreements have their fair share of downsides. If you are going through a divorce in Mecklenburg County, you might be wondering how enforceable these agreements are. What happens if your spouse decides to blatantly disregard the agreement? What if they agreed to respect a compromise, only to turn around and do the opposite of what they agreed to? Make no mistake, this does happen in North Carolina.
Fortunately, you have several legal options if your spouse has violated your separation agreement. The logical first step is to connect with a qualified, experienced attorney who can lead you in the right direction. Your lawyer can help hold your former spouse accountable for their actions and can help you file a lawsuit against your former spouse for breach of contract. If possible, you should seek out an attorney who has experience with family law and divorces in North Carolina. These skilled professionals will give you the best chance of a favorable legal outcome.What Can a Separation Agreement Cover?
The official name for a separation agreement in North Carolina is a “Separation Agreement and Property Settlement.” This is a legal document that is recognized by judges in Mecklenburg County, and it can resolve a wide range of issues relating to a divorce. In fact, one of the few things a separation agreement cannot do is actually grant the legal divorce itself. Here are a few examples of what you might include in a separation agreement:
- Matters pertaining to child support
- The details of alimony payments
- Child custody
- Division of property
It is worth noting that a judge does not need to approve a separation agreement in North Carolina when granting a divorce. This makes the Tar Heel State somewhat rare in the United States, as spouses across the rest of America generally need to have their separation agreement approved before moving forward with their divorce.
For a separation agreement to be valid in North Carolina, all you need to do is get it notarized. However, you should always have a qualified attorney draft your separation agreement. A lawyer can also assist you in the negotiation process.What Happens if My Spouse Violates the Separation Agreement?
If your spouse violates your separation agreement, you have several options. Each is a distinct legal strategy that may lead to a different outcome:
- Breach of Contract: You can sue your spouse for breach of contract if your separation agreement has not been made part of a court order. You can either seek monetary damages or sue for “specific performance.” If you sue for specific performance, a court order might be issued that forces your spouse to abide by the separation agreement. If you seek monetary damages, you can receive compensation in the amount that you would have received if the agreement had been properly followed.
- Contempt: If the separation agreement has become part of a court decree, you will need to bring a motion to hold your former spouse in contempt. This situation is somewhat unique, because the court has the power to enforce provisions that it would not be allowed to enforce under any other circumstances - such as paying child support for a child over the age of 18. If it is in your separation agreement, the court can enforce it.
- Rescission: Another option is to rescind the separation agreement altogether. This means that you start the divorce process from the beginning. You can either negotiate a new separation agreement, or you can go through the courts and seek court orders for spousal support, alimony, child support, and so on.
If you have been searching Mecklenburg County for an experienced family law attorney who can assist you with this matter, look no further than Arnold & Smith, PLLC. Our firm has been helping spouses in Charlotte pursue justice for many years, and we can hold your former spouse accountable if they have violated your separation agreement. Reach out at your earliest convenience, and we can remind your former spouse that there are serious consequences for violating their separation agreement. Although this can be a stressful time for many spouses, we can help you approach this difficult situation with a sense of confidence and efficiency.