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Can a Child’s Name Be Changed

In Child Custody, Parenting by Elizabeth Stephenson

When a family experiences major life circumstances changes, there comes a need to move in a different direction. In the context of a divorce, a woman may choose to change her legal name back to a prior name. Sometimes, a custodial parent wants to change a child’s legal name to reflect their new circumstances. In order to accomplish this, there are certain conditions that the parent must meet. First: Petition for Name Change The state of North Carolina has a procedure that allows for a parent to pursue a minor child’s legal name change from a court. The first step is for the parent to file a Petition for Name Change, which is a legal document that must be signed and notarized. In addition, the parent must bring identification, the …

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Ways a Family Lawyer Cannot Help You

In Child Custody, Child Support, Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

Separations and divorces encompass a broad array of issues that must be resolved. This includes emergency protective orders, separation agreements, property division, post separation support, child support, child custody, and absolute divorce. It can be incredibly reassuring to have an attorney to skillfully guide you through these issues into the future. Attorneys have a duty to follow the direction of their clients and to zealously fight to achieve clients’ goals. However, as you enter an attorney-client relationship with a family lawyer, it is critical that you understand that there are limits to what an attorney can do when representing you. Ways a Family Lawyer Cannot Help You Advise a client to commit a crime. The rules of professional conduct prohibit an attorney from assisting a client to commit a criminal …

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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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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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Managing International Travel With Your Children

In Child Custody, Parenting by Sarah Hink

Traveling can be an exciting opportunity for relaxation and for learning. The joys of experiencing new places, different cultures, and interacting with other people can be eye-opening. For children, it can be breathtaking to sense the greater world with their own eyes, ears, and noses. If you are fortunate enough to have the time and resources to take an international trip with your children, proper planning is the key to maximizing this opportunity. Tips to Traveling Internationally with Children Be mindful of court orders or parenting agreements. Most child custody orders and formal parenting agreements contain provisions requiring approval from the other parent or from the court in order to take a child outside of a specified geographic range. Be sure that you are in full compliance with any such …

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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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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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The Basics of Collaborative Law

In Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

The decision to separate with the intention of divorce is not a decision that people take lightly. It is the end of a significant chapter in each partner’s life and of a shared history. Sometimes, people want to end their marriage with a legal battle—to get some “justice” for wrongs that ended the relationship. Unfortunately, this often ends up being expensive and creating new resentments. Further, a prolonged legal fight never ends with either side feeling a healthy sense of closure needed to move forward. Collaborative Law Defined With the animosity, expense, and court time of a divorce fight in mind, there is a mechanism in place that allows divorcing couples an opportunity to end things amicably and by agreement. This is referred to as “collaborative law”. Collaborative law is …

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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 …

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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 …