People often assume a separation agreement is required in order to be legally separated. This is not correct. The law is very specific on the definition of legal separation. In order to be legally separated, a party must be physically separated with at least one spouse having the intent to end the martial relationship. In North Carolina, a couple may be legally separated without entering into a separation agreement.
While not required, a well drafted separation agreement can provide a number of benefits.
First, a separation agreement can address all matters related to a divorce including alimony, property division, child custody, child support, and a waiver of claims against third parties. Rather than leaving the decision to a Court, a couple can negotiate almost any term which is not against public policy.