I just read a book, “How to file for divorce in NC” and it states that separation is a year and one day. The judge will take your word with regards of dates.
I am not sure about the actual time frame. I ended my marriage in November of 2005, but my ex didn’t move out until Dec 30th. Then I moved in with a friend to save money for my own place which I signed a lease for on MArch 1st. So I am not sure about all that yet.