In North Carolina, spouses must live separate and apart for one year before they may obtain an Absolute Divorce. The date of separation occurs when one or both spouses move out of the marital home with the intent to live separate and apart permanently. The spouses must live at different residences, so moving into the next bedroom or into the guest house will not satisfy the one-year separation requirement. Often times both spouses are in agreement about the separation and determine together who will move out to begin the one-year separation period. However, some spouses end up in disputes over who must move out of the home due to hardships in affording a second residence, attachments to the marital home and even obstacles related to living at a different location due to children or work requirements. Having a court decide which spouse must move from the marital home may be the only option for spouses who cannot agree on this issue. In this case, a spouse may file an action for a Divorce from Bed and Board to request the court to make this determination.
In a Divorce from Bed and Board lawsuit, the court will enter a judgment establishing which spouse will remain in the marital home and which spouse must leave. This judgment also effectively determines the legal separation date of the spouses. The Judge will decide who will remain in the home by considering the faults of each party, including:
- Abandoning his or her family;
- Maliciously turning the other spouse out of doors;
- Endangering the life of the other spouse by cruel or barbarous treatment;
- Offering such indignities as to render the other spouse’s life intolerable and burdensome;
- Using drugs or alcohol in excess so as to render the other spouse’s life intolerable or burdensome; or
- Committing adultery.
There may be evidence of fault on behalf of both spouses and the Judge will be tasked with considering which spouse behaved the worst. Spouses should be prepared to testify about the other spouse’s faults and also have evidence of their own faults presented to the court.
It may be that you and your spouse are ready to begin the separation period but are unable to do so because neither of you are willing to move out of the marital home. Rather than remaining in impasse at home in constant conflict with your spouse, it may be time to file an action for a Divorce from Bed and Board. It will take one year to complete the separation requirement for an Absolute Divorce and you may wish to begin this process right away. If you have questions related to separating from your spouse or having your spouse removed from the marital home in a Divorce from Bed and Board lawsuit, contact one of the skilled attorneys at Miller Bowles Cushing today!