You do not have to file a legal document to begin a separation, although some people prefer to do so.
Second, once you are separated, are there any restrictions on forming relationships with other people? With limited exceptions, once you are separated, you are generally free to date anyone who wants to date you with one big exception.
Absolutely nothing is stated in North Carolina law to prevent someone who is separated from dating whomever they please. A more educated answer (and the careful answer) to this dating question depends on the facts, as outlined in the various scenarios below.
Scenario One If you have children and are planning to expose the children to someone you intend to date, you should be sure this person has the character and moral qualities of someone you are willing to have around your children.
So, once you have established a separate residence with the intention of ending your marriage, there is no need to wait until the Court has granted you an Absolute Divorce to go out on the town with someone new.
Cell phone records reflect they text messaged and phoned each other daily.
Dating and intimate relationships create some questions for people who are separated but not yet legally divorced. From a legal standpoint, there are two things you need to consider. North Carolina requires that spouses live “separate and apart from each other” with at least one of them intending to end (terminate in legalese) the marriage. You have to live in a separate residence — not in separate rooms of the family house, not even in a separate apartment over the family garage — but in an entirely separate location.
That’s it:  separate residence and  intention to end the marriage.
Judges tend to look disfavourably on introducing children to new romantic partners too soon after a separation.
Even if the marriage produced no children, prematurely “moving on” can complicate a property settlement or invite a lawsuit against the “the other man” or “other woman.” While “the other man” or “other woman” can no longer successfully be sued if the new relationship started after the date of separation, evidence proving that a relationship existed shortly after the date of separation can be used to help prove that a relationship existed prior to the date of separation.