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Common Misconceptions About Divorce in North Carolina

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

The legal process of a divorce can seem like an intimidating concept for many people. It represents an unknown and unfamiliar concept that seems prohibitively expensive and complex. These misconceptions have an unfortunate consequence of keeping spouses in marriages that should have ended long ago. If you are seriously struggling with your marriage, are considering a separation, or are already separated, we urge you not to put your life on hold for the mere reason that the legal aspects of divorce seem scary or expensive. Instead, we hope to dispel some common misconceptions about divorce in North Carolina. Absolute divorce is not based on fault. One common misconception about divorce is that a spouse has to prove that the marriage is ending because of the other spouse’s acts or omissions. …

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Traits of an Enforceable Prenuptial Agreement

In Relationships, Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

While planning for marriage is an unbelievably exciting time in a person’s life, it is important to make good, sensible decisions in the process. An unfortunate number of marriages end in divorce, and sometimes, those who find themselves in that position wind up wishing they had better protected themselves. This is why couples choose to enter into prenuptial agreements. What Are Prenuptial Agreements? Prenuptial agreements are contracts between people who are about to enter into marriage, which can address financial matters between the couple in the event of a divorce. This may include the classification of property as separate property, how property will be divided, what happens to property upon the death of a spouse, or the amount and duration of spousal support. The existence of an agreement can save …

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Forensic Accounting and Divorce Proceedings

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

Even in the most amicable of separations, dividing property when a marriage ends can be a complex and intense process. In North Carolina, family courts are tasked with making an equitable distribution of marital property between spouses when a marriage dissolves. This involves classifying property as marital or separate property, determining the market value of the marital property, then dividing the marital property in accordance with numerous factors relating to each spouse’s situation, their contributions to the marriage, and fairness. For couples with a large amount of marital property, including real estate, investments, retirement accounts, deferred compensation, stock options, and/or business interests, identifying and determining the value of such property is no small task. Further, the stakes are very high as the property represents both spouses’ hard work and their …

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Top Five Reasons to Consult with a Family Law Attorney

In Child Custody, Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

We are often asked if you are required to have an attorney when going through a divorce. The simple answer—no. However, there are several reasons that having a family law attorney is very beneficial. Consider these top five reasons to consult with a family law attorney if you are considering a separation or currently going through a divorce: You may fail to preserve your legal rights on your own. Legal proceedings regarding property, spousal support, child support, and custody are governed by rules of procedure, the rules of evidence, local court rules, and the North Carolina General Statutes. There are strict deadlines and pleading requirements when it comes to these issues. Failure to meet critical deadlines, or filing improper pleadings can irreparably damage your ability to obtain legal relief that …

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Coping Through the Holiday Season

In Health by Elizabeth Stephenson

The holiday season can be an emotionally tough time for anyone. In fact, underneath the surface of all the jokes and cliché stories about family dysfunction during the holiday, are layers of true anxiety and hurt. This can come from unhealthy dynamics with family members, long-brewing resentment, and throwing explosive combinations of people into a shared space with alcohol. If you have recently separated, divorced, or do not have visitation with your children during the holidays, this creates an entirely new wrinkle into the holiday season that can make it feel unbearable. This causes some people to resort to unhealthy methods of coping with these feelings, such as alcohol, overeating, or overspending. As you head into this holiday season, please heed the following advice to survive through healthy coping. Acknowledge …

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Finding Reasons to Be Thankful

In Health, Relationships by Elizabeth Stephenson

When you are separated or have experienced a recent divorce, the holiday season can be rough. You may not be at your best, yet are expected to show up to social events and family gatherings. There is also the constant barrage of shows and advertisements showing happy families eating a feast or opening presents. While navigating your way through this season, it can be helpful to remind yourself of the many things you have to be thankful for. Children — If you have children, appreciate what a blessing they are to your life, and show them through your words and actions that you are grateful for them. As a parent, you can impart the same lessons of thankfulness and humbleness on them. Beyond the gifts, shopping, and eating that come …

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Helping Ease Your Child’s Separation Anxiety

In Child Custody by Elizabeth Stephenson

All children are different. They all have different personalities and different ways of coping with adversity. When children find themselves in the unfortunate situation of their parents separating, each child reacts differently. But even if a child isn’t outwardly showing signs that they are struggling, it is important to acknowledge that divorce is traumatic for all children. It is therefore parents’ duty to help their children cope with this trauma and find a path forward. One way that children’s lives can normalize following a divorce is with ample visitation with their parents. However, in the early phases of a separation, children can experience a natural amount of separation anxiety when it comes to leaving their primary caretaker and visiting with their other parent. This can manifest itself in many different …

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Tips for Child Proofing Your New Home

In Child Custody, Parenting by Elizabeth Stephenson

When couples divorce in North Carolina, they must live in separate residences for a year before they can seek a divorce decree from a court. While divorce is a significant and sad life experience, the prospect of moving into a new apartment or home can be a positive step toward moving forward. Further, furnishing and fixing up your new place can be a healthy distraction from your worries. If you have young children and plan to have overnight visits with them, then it is a good idea to take child proofing seriously. Here are some friendly ideas on where to start. If you have any heavy furniture, like a television stand, dresser, or shelf, make sure that it is anchored to a stud in the wall behind it. Anchors come …

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COBRA and Keeping Your Kids Insured

In Child Custody, Child Support, Health by Elizabeth Stephenson

Separation and divorce can bring about a great sense of financial uncertainty, which is why it is important to be informed of your options when it comes to anticipating and managing your expenses. One such are is healthcare for your children. Even with insurance, health care for children is expensive. If you’ve ever had to bring your children to the emergency room or an after-hours clinic, you know exactly what we’re talking about. You may get a giant bill from the facility, and when you think that’s the end of it, you can get bills from the private doctor’s group and from labs that performed blood work or x-rays. Imagine then, if you had to cover your children’s ongoing and emergency health care without insurance. This is a prospect that …

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Top Reasons Not to Ignore Legal Pleadings

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

As children, most of us learn that ignoring problems do not make them go away. Unfortunately, as adults we don’t always take this lesson to heart. Sometimes, ignoring problems as adults really comes back to bite us. This bears particular truth when it comes to lawsuits, as there can be serious and long-term consequences if you fail to properly respond. Ignoring Civil Lawsuits If you are served with a lawsuit from a collection agency, foreclosure, or another civil matter, you need to read the materials and speak with an attorney. The consequences of failing to act can be a ridiculous monetary judgment against you, a lien on your property, seizure of property, or garnishment of your wages. These are judgments that are incredibly hard to shake and may not even …