Several Questions


I am in the process of separating from my husband, and I have some questions. I realize there are a lot of questions here, and for that I apologize. The first question is probably the most important!!

  1. How do I go about finding a good attorney? I want to protect myself, assets, etc. I’m not 100% sure we’ll divorce, but I want to have an exit plan in case.

  2. What determines who stays in the house and who leaves? If I am the one wanting the separation, does the responsibility fall on me to leave, and if so, what happens if the house is not kept up during the separation? What responsibility will I have if I leave the house but my name remains on the mortgage???

  3. What are the benefits of legal separation? In what situation would this be best?

  4. How is debt split during a separation/divorce?

  5. If I establish my own checking/savings accounts during the separation, are they considered part of the marital estate? How do I protect the money I make during separation?

  6. My husband recently received a sizeable “back pay” check from Social Security that was withheld during our marriage. Do I have any entitlement to that?

  7. In the case of items in our home, my husband’s family has paid for many of them: furniture, appliances, etc. His claims he can charge me rent for these items while I am staying in the house. Is that true? Does he have anymore claim to these items than I do?

  8. My husband’s grandmother gave me her 50th wedding anniversary band before she passed away. Is my husband (or his family) entitled to ask for this back?


The best way to find a good attorney is to ask around, find someone in your area with a good reputation, and who focuses on family law issues. You may also call our office for a referral to an attorney in your area who specializes in family law.

You do not have to leave the home, however absent martial fault on the part of your spouse, you cannot force them out of the home. If your spouse does not agree to leave, and has not committed any acts of martial fault, you will have to leave in order to establish a separation. You may then file suit and seek that the court award you possession of the home.

There is no legal separation in NC. It is simply the period of time in which you are living separate and apart (you must live separately for one year prior to filing for divorce), and living separate and apart will allow you to file for property distribution and spousal support, if applicable.

Debt is part of the overall property distribution and is divided equitably by the court.

Any property you acquire after separation is your separate property and is not subject to distribution.

Depending on what the back pay was for, it is likely marital property.

He cannot charge you rent for use of household items. Given the nature of the items, it would be hard for him to show they were his separate property, and these items would likely be considered marital in nature.

It appears that the grandmother gave the ring to you, and not to you and your husband, the same would likely be viewed as your separate property.