"The Notebook" author Nicholas Sparks is a true romantic in real life ... when it comes to his beloved North Carolina mansion, anyway -- and now he's making sure he keeps it in the breakup with his wife.
According to docs obtained by TMZ ... Nicholas and Catherine Sparks both signed the deed for "Trent Acres" -- the massive family estate -- over to the Nicholas Sparks trust. As you'd expect ... the author runs his trust, so basically Catherine's given him her share of the 24,000 sq. ft. home.
The Sparks' announced they were separating in January after 25 years of marriage.
It's unclear from the docs what, if any, compensation Catherine's getting for forking over the deed ... but typically there is something called an equalization payment. She's already secured a $1.1 million mini-mansion, just a couple miles away from "Trent Acres."
Nicholas declared his love for his estate in a video every bit as sappy as "Nights in Rodanthe." Grab some tissues ...