Getting Separated but Can’t Afford to Move Out Yet? Tips on What to Do

As you may know, North Carolina law requires couples to live separate and apart for one year before being eligible to get divorced. However, numerous situations arise in which married couples in North Carolina who want to file for divorce find themselves unable to live on their own separately right off the bat.
If you find yourself in such a situation, although you and your spouse cannot begin your separation period, you can still take actions now to prepare yourselves financially and mentally for separation in the future.

At Charles R. Ullman & Associates, we understand that the steps for getting divorced in North Carolina can be challenging, and we are here to help. Contact us today to learn how our experienced North Carolina divorce lawyers can assist with your case.

Are You Coexisting With Your Partner While Separated?

Living in the same home throughout the divorce proceedings can be challenging, yet it offers a temporary solution that avoids the need for either party to relocate. Interestingly, some former couples have successfully navigated ways to live together amicably even post-divorce. If you’re considering co-housing, setting clear boundaries will be essential.

What To Do To Prepare for Separation When You Can’t Afford It Yet

Moving into separate residences can be difficult when there isn’t enough money to move out, it can also be a very emotional process. But there are several steps you can take to prepare for this change. We suggest:

  • Establishing separate checking, savings, and credit card accounts under your name. An important step in the divorce process is to make clear that your finances are separate. By opening separate accounts, and being sure to only use accounts in your individual names, you and your spouse can take the first steps toward breaking your financial ties.
  • Get separate cellphone accounts to maintain your privacy: Keep in mind, cellphones store a significant amount of information (emails, text messages, etc.) that can be used in court.
  • Create individual bills for household services: If you tend to watch a lot more television than your spouse does, you may decide that the cable bill should be switched to your name alone. Tracking your individual expenses will help you get an idea of your budget for when you are living separately.
  • Open a P.O. Box so you can keep your mail separate. Not only will this help in separating your individual bills, it will also give you more privacy.
  • Establish household responsibilities: If you can, agree to divide household chores. You may consider taking on chores that you have not normally done in your relationship, so you are prepared in case you need to perform those duties once you are living separately.
  • Tell family and friends about your planned separation: You need to make clear to your family members and friends that you are separating. Making your decision known will give your loved ones the opportunity to support you through this difficult time.
  • Move into separate bedrooms: If you can, consider moving into separate bedrooms so you and your spouse can establish your own space in the house.
  • Avoid eating together or celebrating together outside of your children’s birthdays: Most married couples who are separated — and who are living in separate residences — would not eat dinner together on a regular basis. However, those couples might come together for a dinner to celebrate their child’s birthday. Start establishing your own routine that you can carry into separation.
  • Avoid attending social events together: Although you may share certain social obligations, try to avoid attending together. You may choose to ride separately or take turns attending events you would have gone to together.

Ultimately, by setting and abiding by clear boundaries, you can help prepare yourself financially and mentally for separation.

Understanding Separation and Divorce in North Carolina

In most divorce proceedings in the state, spouses will opt for a no-fault divorce. No-fault divorce in North Carolina typically requires only that you and your spouse live separate and apart for a period of one year. In addition, one of the spouses must have been a North Carolina resident for six months prior to filing for divorce.

It is important to know that you cannot be considered “separated” while living in the same house, so making preparations to live separately is extremely important.

Talk to a Compassionate Divorce Attorney in Raleigh, NC

No divorce is easy, but when you can’t afford to live separate on your own, it can feel like the process is being painfully drawn out. In these complicated cases, you need to discuss your options with an experienced divorce lawyer in Raleigh. Contact Charles R. Ullman & Associates to learn more about how we can assist you.


Charles Ullman & Associates provides you respected, experienced and knowledgeable divorce and family law attorneys. You can trust us to help you through the legal process efficiently and effectively so you can transition to the next phase of your life. Our community involvement reaches beyond charitable support of important causes. We launched our own movement in Fraternities4Family and provide scholarships to able students in need.