What Happens if My Spouse Violates the Separation Agreement?
Creating a separation agreement can save spouses in North Carolina all kinds of trouble. Avoiding a lengthy, expensive, and stressful court process is almost always in everyone’s best interests. In addition, a separation agreement helps keep matters private and confidential. Last but certainly not least, you have a much greater degree of control when you sign a separation agreement.
In contrast, you never really know what is going to happen when you go to court. A judge could make decisions that neither spouse expected or wanted. At the end of the day, most spouses in North Carolina will agree that they understand the various factors involved with their marriage best. As such, they are the people who are best-suited to make the important decisions, and a separation agreement allows spouses in North Carolina to take responsibility for these decisions.
What happens if your spouse does not act in a responsible manner? What happens if they violate the terms of the separation agreement? In many ways, this puts you right back at square one. Even though you might have chosen to create a separation agreement specifically to avoid a trial, you may be forced to file a lawsuit to enforce the separation agreement. Although this is far from an ideal situation, you have plenty of options to resolve it. Enlist the help of a qualified, experienced family law attorney and you can hold your spouse accountable for violating your separation agreement.How Does a Separation Agreement Work in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, a separation agreement is officially called a “Separation Agreement and Property Settlement.” This court recognized contract can cover a wide range of different provisions. Your separation agreement has the power to enforce virtually anything that pertains to your divorce. The only thing it cannot do is actually grant the divorce itself. Common provisions in a separation include:
- The payment of child support
- The payment of alimony
- Child custody matters
- Division of property
A judge does not need to approve a separation agreement prior to granting a divorce in North Carolina. This is not the case in almost every other state in America, which means that separation agreements have a considerable degree of power and influence in the Tar Heel State. Spouses are given a strong degree of freedom and independence when it comes to separation agreements, and the only real requirement is to have it notarized. With all that said, it is always a good idea to enlist the help of an attorney when drafting and negotiating a separation agreement.What are My Legal Options if the Separation Agreement Has Been Violated?
You have a number of legal options if your separation agreement has been violated. It is important to consider each option carefully, as they all have different advantages and disadvantages depending on your circumstances. A qualified family law attorney can help you make the right decision before you take legal action. Here is what you can do:
- Sue for Breach of Contract: If your separation agreement has not been made part of a court order, you can sue for breach of contract. In this situation, your separation agreement is treated like any other contract in North Carolina. If you sue for monetary damages, you may receive the amount of money you lost as a result of the violation. If you sue for “specific performance,” you may be able to obtain a court order that forces your spouse to follow the separation agreement.
- Hold Your Former Spouse in Contempt: If your separation has been made part of a court decree, you can bring a motion to hold your former spouse in contempt. In doing so, the court will have the power to enforce the provisions of your separation agreement - even if those provisions go beyond the normal powers of the court. For example, they can enforce a provision that involves child support payments for a child over the age of 18.
- Rescission: Alternatively, you can have your separation agreement rescinded. When this happens, the court treats both spouses as if the separation agreement had never happened in the first place. You can then create a new separation agreement or proceed with a divorce trial to gain spousal support, alimony, child support, and so on.
If you are struggling to deal with a former spouse who has violated your separation agreement, there is help available in the Charlotte region. Reach out to Arnold Smith, PLLC at your earliest convenience, and we can help you take legal action in the most efficient way possible. No spouse should have to deal with needless amounts of stress during a divorce, and we can help resolve this situation in a timely manner. Book a consultation today at 704-370-2828, and we can work together to plan your next steps.