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A New Year Doesn’t Require Big Changes

In Health, Lifestyle by Carly Baker

Have you ever noticed that whenever a new year rolls around, there are non-stop television, radio, and internet ads for gym memberships? Or that your physical and email mailboxes are filled with “exciting limited offers” on expensive trend diets and meal plans? The fact is companies try to capitalize on people’s New Year resolutions of diet and exercise during the early months of a new year. To avoid the traps and quick ends to resolutions that we often suffer, consider a more maintainable approach such as this: Choose goals that are sustainable. Treat your healthier life as a marathon and not a sprint. You are unlikely to find long-term success if you haven’t regularly exercised in years, then set a sudden goal of working out 5 hours every single day. …

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Raising a Defense Against False Allegations

In Child Custody, Separation & Divorce by Carly Baker

Divorce and child custody disputes are among the most passion-inducing legal issues that civil attorneys face. Sometimes, in the heat of the situation and with a desire to win at all costs, we see people make bad decisions. One of those decisions is to make false allegations against the other party. Whether these allegations involve domestic violence, infidelity, fraud, or child abuse, it can all be incredibly damaging. While North Carolina is an absolute divorce state—which is a no-fault method of divorce—there are several areas in which misconduct can still play a role in the court’s decision-making process: Protective order—a spouse can get a domestic violence protective order against the other spouse, which can restrain the allegedly violent spouse from the home and the children. Divorce from Bed and Board—a …

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Avoiding Costly Mistakes When You Divorce

In Separation & Divorce by Carly Baker

The end of a marriage is a major life event that can completely rattle the strongest people. It is therefore natural that people in the midst of a separation may make decisions and say things they normally wouldn’t say. Anger and sadness are incredibly powerful emotions that can overtake the frontal lobe of our brains, leading to poor and impulsive choices. To put it mildly, these bad decisions can be costly when it comes to a divorce. If you are considering separating from your spouse, or if you are already separated and headed for divorce, these are some of the critical mistakes to avoid. Engaging in harassment, stalking, or domestic violence against your spouse. These actions can result in arrests, protective orders, criminal charges, and criminal convictions—which comes at the …

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When is an Alimony Claim Barred?

In Separation & Divorce by Carly Baker

Alimony. One simple word can ignite passions rarely seen in other areas of the law. This can be attributed to the fact that North Carolina is an “absolute divorce” state, which does not consider the element of fault when legally severing a marriage. As a result, a couple’s opportunity to have their “day in court” and establish who misbehaved during the marriage generally comes in the context of a lawsuit for alimony. Like any great drama, alimony can encompass issues like infidelity, marital misconduct, a couple’s standard of living, and money. However, before a court can hear any of this evidence, parties will provide evidence as to the threshold questions of whether the spouse requesting alimony is entitled to it, or whether that spouse is barred from receiving alimony payments. …

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Budgeting for Your Children’s College

In Parenting, Wealth by Carly Baker

The dream of many parents is to put their children in a position to succeed—to reach even greater career heights than their parents. The first step toward attaining this goal is for children to obtain a higher education by going to college. Unfortunately, college is expensive. Really expensive, as you have to pay for tuition, textbooks, supplies, clothes, phone plan, housing, utilities, food, and a little spending money. Unsurprisingly, the rate at which college costs have increased has far outpaced the rate at which most parents’ salaries have increased. More than ever, it is crucial to approach your child’s college education with a plan. As the idea is for your child to one day become a self-sufficient adult, this college plan should be part of a coordinated team effort between …

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How Do I Enforce a Separation Agreement?

In Separation & Divorce by Carly Baker

Separation agreements are legal contracts that many North Carolina couples create when they separate with the intention of divorcing. Because it takes a full year before a couple can seek a divorce from a North Carolina family court, these agreements provide stability and predictability for critical issues like: Who gets to stay in the marital home? Where are the children going to live? Who is going to pay child support, and how much? How are parents going to divide their time with the children? Is a dependent spouse going to receive monthly post-separation support? How is property and debt going to be divided? How are the bills and expenses going to be paid? These agreements are common and popular because they keep most divorcing couples out of a courtroom until …

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Are Common Law Marriages Recognized in North Carolina?

In Relationships, Separation & Divorce by Carly Baker

The concept of common law marriage is an informal situation in which a couple resides together and holds themselves out to their community as husband and wife. This is informal because the couple has not undergone the formal process or met the requisites to obtain a marriage license, which includes: Obtaining a marriage license directly from a county clerk in North Carolina. This requires an application, meeting the age requirements, as well as ID, social security number, and paying a fee. Or, Having a religious officiant or properly ordained person perform a ceremony, then verify and submit a marriage license to a county clerk. There are several states across the country that recognize common law marriage if a couple has held themselves out as married for a specific number of …

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Celebrate With a Season of Sharing

In Community, Lifestyle, Parenting by Carly Baker

We live in a culture of shopping and consumption. This is especially true during the holiday season. If you think about it, November through the end of December have become one endless sales event, designed to separate you from as much money as possible. Where Black Friday was the big shopping event before the holidays, there is now Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday Preview Sales, Cyber Monday, “12 Days of Doorbusters”, and countless other “can’t miss” online and in-store shopping opportunities. Oh yes, don’t forget after-Christmas clearance sales or using all of those gift cards you received. Unfortunately, the culture of gift giving has changed with the times. What was once special—the act of going to a store and thoughtfully choosing a gift—has become replaced with wish lists and no-question …

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Why Credibility Goes a Long Way in the Courtroom

In Separation & Divorce by Carly Baker

Honesty is a character trait that distinguishes us and gives us a personal sense of pride that we are inherently good people. It is a facet of many religions and theories of morality. It is a trait that many parents try to instill in their children. Honesty matters, as it shapes the way we are perceived and can really be of great benefit to our relationships, our friendships, and our careers. In the opposite sense, dishonesty can also define us in ways we don’t want. One example of this is in a courtroom. Judges and Juries Make Credibility Determinations   Throughout the American legal system, one of the core legal rights is the right to a trial by a fair and impartial judge or jury. Further, judges and juries are …

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The Divorce Process Doesn’t Have to be Scary

In Separation & Divorce by Carly Baker

There is a mental process that married people go through when they consider whether to get divorced. They consider the emotional and practical implications of what a divorce would mean for themselves and for their children. The decision whether to divorce is a big one, and it is completely natural to go back and forth before actually putting the wheels in motion. Unfortunately, part of that equation for people is the belief that the legal process of getting divorced is intimidating. As family lawyers with over a decade of experience, we can tell you that the divorce process doesn’t have to be scary. An Absolute Divorce is Straightforward Getting legally divorced is actually a straightforward proposition. North Carolina is an absolute divorce state, in which a spouse is entitled to …