Greetings. First, I want to ensure that you are clear on one issue: if you file for divorce in NC and have not resolved in the issues of Equitable Distribution and Alimony by separation agreement or court order prior to the divorce judgment being entered, you LOSE the these two claims and cannot ask the court for help with spousal support or property division later. If you don’t understand this, or are not sure about whether or not you need this, please spend the funds to visit with an attorney.
Also, the Clerk of Court should not be giving you legal advice, as I would disagree on some of her statements. First, the name change can only be done in the divorce judgment. Next, you may settle issues of child support and child custody/visitation in a separation agreement. You may or may not want to incorporate your agreement.
Finally, yes, there are about 25-30 books on our shelf with language for drafting and critiquing separation agreements. I cannot even start to tell you the hidden dangers in divorce without an attorney. Please, at least consult an attorney to see what those dangers are for your specific situation. I would hate for you to be one of the unhappy and unlucky souls who come into my office after “doing it yourself” and I have to tell you that I cannot help you. Stop by first for a consultation and let’s see what the hidden dangers are. Let us know if we can help and best of luck.
Janet L. Fritts
Attorney at Law
4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 500
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607
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 but a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action.