Are you asking if you can leave? Yes, you can leave without fear of abandonment issues coming up. You have attempted to get an agreement signed and informed your stbx of your intention to separate. As long as you do not abandon your finacial responsibilities or leave your children without care, you are not abandoning. One of you must leave in order for the separation to begin. You do not have to have a signed separation agreement in NC to be separated. It usually only serves as protection for both parties on the details of marital assets and debts. Regardless of this, both parties are responsible for 1/2 the debt and entitled to 1/2 the assets.
I could suggest filing for divorce from bed & board so that your stbx would have to leave the home, but I have heard that that is usually a formality and takes time to get through the courts.
You should close as many joint accounts as possible and get things in “order” for the separation. After separation you can pay your spouse an amount that you find reasonable, but your income is your income and should be in a separate account. If at all possible, record these threats to damage property, and invitations for you to leave, document all attempts to negotiate, document as much as you possibly can. In NC it is legal to record conversations as long as one party knows that it is being recorded. You can also use this in court. Document everything.
I suggest at least consulting with an attorney to see what your other options are but you can leave, with your child.

Thank you for the reply.

I do have diary and photos of certain indignities. Also, diaried each time asked to leave and the circumstance.

However, I am very uncertain when I leave what financial responsibilities I might be inadvertently “abandoning”. I will continue paying mortgage until home is sold or some settlement is made. What about utilities? Do I continue to pay for essential power, remove name from bill…? I also have a plan to pay for support of teen if teen chooses not to come with me. What other issues am I forgetting? I am really trying to be fair as possible here, without doing something wrong out of ignorance.

Also, is it your opinion that prior to separating I can have my income in my own account and as long as I continue our customary monthly allotment to my spouse I would not be barring spouse from marital funds? (I currently pay spouse’s car payt’s as well as monthly allotment for food and misc. My checkbook and statements are always available for examination as well.) I just don’t want to complicate matters by inadvertently giving spouse excuse for claims later. Am I being too careful?

Many thanks.

This gets a little tricky…
Was spouse unemployed by agreement between you, never worked, temporary situation? This reason could impact the duration of post separation spousal support/alimony. This can be documented that you will pay for specified amount of time or until spouse either cohabitates or has an income of his/her own.

I suggest removing your name from utilities and giving your spouse an allotment that would provide for what you pay now. The payments will no longer be your responsibility but you will be providing money so that the payment can be made. This will also help later on when your spouse is solely responsible for payments. I would say that power is a necessity that should be covered but things such as telephone service and cable are luxeries that unless there is a medical reason telephone service must be provided, you could turn off upon separating. I would think that the extra money for misc stuff that you give now could stop, but there again, that would depend on the reason behind the unemployment and if your spouse is willing and able to gain employment to provide finacial independence from you.

Maybe some of the others have ideas that I have overlooked…

Being cautious is always a good idea. Protect yourself. That’s the reason I suggest documenting everything you can. If your spouse is found to be increasing marital debt or liquidating marital assets, purposefully due to the impending separation and to possibly force you into staying in the marriage, the courts can use this to provide an unequal division of marital assets.

Prior to separating any income is considered marital and would be divided. After the date of separation, income is considered separate and would be yours alone other than what you pay in alimony/child support…

Sometimes making the living situation in the home less convenient is the way to jump start a separation. However, you should consult with an attorney about your specific fact before taking any of the actions you have mentioned.

Helena M. Nevicosi
Attorney with Rosen Law Firm

4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 500
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607
919.787.6668 main phone
919.787.6361 main fax

Charlotte Office
301 McCullough Drive
Suite 510
Charlotte, NC 28262
Main Phone: (704)307.4600
Main Fax: (704) 9343.0044

Durham & Chapel Hill Office
1829 East Franklin Street
Building 600
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
(919) 321.0780


The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service only, a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action. The information posted on this forum is available for public viewing and is not intended to create an attorney client relationship with any individual. These answers are provided for informational purposes only, a person should consult with their own individual legal counsel before taking any action that could affect their legal rights or obligations.

Greetings all.

I have a situation that involves 1 teen child, 1 house, and 1 income (mine).

Non-income spouse refuses refinance, wants me to move out, will not sign any documents (separation ag. or loan docs, etc), and communication hostile regarding finances, remodeling home via joint credit cards, etc.

Considered closing cc, and moving primary funds to sole account with specific monthly allotment going to spouse, BUT don’t want to be accused of barring access to “funds.” Still in hh due to potential abandonment allegations as well, since spouse won’t sign agreement for me to move out.

Lots of other issues, insults, threats of prop damage, some cosmetic dmg to owned prop, constant parental interference, constant verbal invitations for me to leave, etc, but not as binding…

Feeling a little helpless right now, in daily hostile situation for last 11 months. Any help would be appreciated.