When a marriage ends, there is a lot that a couple has to pack up both literally and figuratively. Couples must resolve questions about arranging child custody schedules, selling or refinancing the marital residence, dividing marital property when spousal support is going to be paid to a dependent spouse, and supporting the children financially including providing their health insurance, school tuition, and extracurricular activity expenses.. All of these issues are legally separate, yet intimately inter-related. While these issues are complex, our practice strives to provide clients with prompt, thoughtful, and effective resolutions to the issues surrounding a divorce, so our clients can move forward efficiently.
Trial is Expensive AND Risky
New Direction Family Law consults with many men and women seeking guidance about what the path of divorce may look like for them. While some people have a great deal of anxiety and hesitation about this process, others look forward to the prospect of an extended legal battle that will make their spouse suffer. While we understand why a spouse might feel this way, it is important to explain to these individuals why a divorce driven by anger or revenge carries great risk and rarely ends with any sense of satisfaction.
While we are fully prepared and experienced in taking cases to a contested trial, the process of a trial can be very costly. In addition to the attorney’s fees associated with the courtroom hours and trial preparation, there are also costs of gathering and trading documents and answering case-related questions, (also known as the discovery) process; expenses of securing qualified expert witnesses to provide evidence supporting your positions, and the possibility of having to pay the attorney fees of your spouse. This money is depleting funds and property that you could have kept if a reasonable settlement had been reached.
Also, trials carry unforeseeable risks.Even if you believe your case is strong and airtight, there is always a risk that a judge or jury will see things differently. This means child custody, equitable distribution, alimony, and child support decisions may go in a direction that leaves you far worse than if you had reached an agreement. This is why we provide honest, straightforward legal advice to our clients about their options and whether or not an agreement is advisable. We give our clients all of the information necessary to make well-informed decisions.
Children Suffer During Child Custody Battles
If the parties have children together, we urge our clients to understand the impact that a highly contested divorce has on their children. For example, when it comes to child custody matters, the North Carolina General Statutes encourages parents to develop “focused, good faith, and child-centered parenting agreements to reduce needless litigation over child custody matters and to promote the best interest of the child.” This is in universal recognition that a prolonged custody battle is not good for a child’s physical or emotional well-being. It only makes an already traumatic situation worse.
Most Family Law Matters End in Settlement
While a lifetime of television dramas and other media outlets have conditioned us to believe that divorces end with an explosive trial, this does not reflect reality. Most of the issues surrounding divorce are resolved by agreements of the parties either with a separation agreement or a consent order submitted to a judge. Because North Carolina is an absolute divorce state, which requires a separation period of one year and one day before filing for a divorce, many couples create separation agreements.
Separation Agreements are legally binding contracts that can address issues like property division, who stays in the home, a parenting plan, spousal support, child support, and how bills will be paid. These contracts provide certainty for parties during their separation agreement and usually extend past the parties’ legal divorce being granted. Separation Agreements often settle all legal issues between parties who are separating with the intent to divorce, and the parties never have to revisit these issues after the agreement is made.
Courts would not be necessary if everyone always reached agreements. Sometimes, trial seems inevitable despite the good faith efforts of both sides. But before child custody and equitable distribution trials, courts will order parties to participate in mediation to resolve as many issues as possible. We always advise our clients to approach mediation with an open mind to weigh mediated settlement offers against the costs and risks of trial.
Let New Direction Family Law Assist You
New Direction Family Law provides high quality legal representation to clients who need help navigating the issues that arise with a divorce or child custody dispute. We understand that our clients need responsive and thoughtful attorneys and pride ourselves in our client-focused practice. Our attorneys are experienced, respected professionals who will work hard to get you your best resolution. We proudly serve clients in Wake, Johnston, Durham, and surrounding counties. Call New Direction Family Law at (919) 719-3470 to schedule an appointment or visit us online at our website.