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Healthy Children and a Healthy You

In Health, Lifestyle, Parenting by Sarah Hink

In the age of smart phones, social media, and video games like Overwatch and Fortnight, children have more and more opportunities to stay home and remain inactive. Childhood obesity is an ever growing epidemic. In fact, the Center for Disease Control has found that the obesity rate in children has tripled since the 1970’s and that 20% of children are now considered obese. Obesity can have very serious physical and emotional effects on a child. This can include an increase susceptibility to diabetes, asthma, and heart disease as children. These health issues can worsen into additional metabolic diseases, chronic ailments, and cancer as adults. Emotionally, obesity can result in children with low self-esteem or depression; and these children may experience some form of bullying from their peers. Lead Your Children …

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What if My Separated Spouse Destroys Property?

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

In the heat of a separation or impending divorce, it is tempting to make a grand exit and then drop the microphone. In our experience as family lawyers, we see all sorts of bad, ill-conceived conduct by separating couples—generally targeted toward each other, toward the children, toward pets, or toward property. These acts are designed to make a statement, to retaliate, or to punish each other. Some of these actions are legitimately embarrassing, some of them unlawful, and some turn out tragic. So what happens when your separated spouse starts destroying marital property? What are you supposed to do? The answer to this question is to contact a family law attorney immediately. This is because when it comes to property division in North Carolina, there are laws in place to …

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Fathers and Summer Visitation

In Parenting by Sarah Hink

If you have children, summertime can be really awesome. There is a freedom to be spontaneous and to plan fun activities that simply doesn’t exist during the grind of the school year. For parents that are separated or divorced, the summer takes on an additional layer of significance. If you are currently operating without a formal parenting agreement or court order, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney to ensure you can maximize your time with your children. Summer Visitation and Parenting Plans When parents work on agreed parenting plans regarding custody and visitation of children, some of the primary goals are to create structure, stability, and normalcy for the children. This means creating parenting plans that accommodate the children staying in the same school, maintaining a …

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What Living Arrangements Are Acceptable When Separating?

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

Absolute divorce requires that couples live “separate and apart” for a period of a year before they can obtain a divorce. This can be a source of great stress for many couples. Often, living separate and apart means that instead of one mortgage or monthly rent payment, that number doubles. Thus, the separate and apart arrangement can create great financial strain for couples that may have already experienced difficulty in making ends meet. As a result, many couples try to find ways to meet this requirement without breaking the bank. Some ideas that couples have tried include sleeping in separate beds, sleeping in different bedrooms, or one spouse living in the garage. Unfortunately, under North Carolina laws, separate and apart means that couples must live in separate residences—sleeping in different …

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Making Your Children Your First Priority

In Parenting by Sarah Hink

If you are in the midst of a separation or divorce, you know that it is really easy to get caught up in the break-up aspect of it all. Whatever led to the end of the relationship is fresh, raw, and real. Nobody is perfect, but a lot of people have trouble making decisions during this tumultuous time period. In fact, sometimes people make unhealthy decisions in order to make themselves feel better, or to make the other spouse feel worse. When there are children involved, it is important to be very mindful of their experience. Your children are suffering a trauma, one that will have an impact on the rest of their lives no matter how smoothly a divorce goes. Children rely on their parents to help them make …

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Happy Father’s Day!

In Child Custody, Parenting by Elizabeth Stephenson

You love your children and work hard to meet their needs and raise them well. If you are a father who has recently separated or divorced, you understand just how treasured your time with your children is. Therefore, Father’s Day takes on an entirely new significance. So when you are separated or divorced, what are your legal rights to visit your children that day and give them an opportunity to celebrate with you? First, is there an agreement or order? If you have a separation agreement or child custody order, check to see what it says regarding Father’s Day. It would be surprising if your agreement or order does not account for this holiday. In fact, attorneys understand how important Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, and birthdays are to parents, making …

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Children Need Involved Parents

In Parenting by Sarah Hink

Public policy and the law in North Carolina provide that when parents are separated, both parents should have ample visitation with the children unless a parent is unfit. There is a reason for this: it is in children’s best interest to have a continued, ongoing relationship with both of their parents. According to Dr. Paul Amato from Penn State University, research has demonstrated that children who have involved fathers demonstrate “emotional, social, and behavioral benefits” at every level of their development. These include a: Higher likelihood to have high paying jobs; Higher likelihood to have higher IQ’s; Greater chance to enter into healthy intimate relationships; Less of a chance to engage in risky sexual behavior or criminal conduct. Unfortunately, not all parents remain involved in their children’s lives following a …

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What is a “Substantial Change in Circumstances”?

In Child Custody by Elizabeth Stephenson

When it comes to child custody, change is constant. This is because parents get new jobs, enter into new relationships, and move. Of even greater significance is that children get older. As they do, their needs change, their relationships with parents change, they want more time to themselves and school commitments grow. This is why child custody orders and agreements are not expected to last forever. However, just because circumstances change does not mean that parties should ignore existing orders. That could result in civil contempt. Instead, parents should consult with attorneys about modifying an existing child custody order. In order to obtain a modification of an order, a party seeking a change must first demonstrate that there has been a “substantial change in circumstances.”the statute does not define what …

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Alimony: What Can Be Held Against Me?

In Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a frequently contested element of separations and divorces in North Carolina. It isn’t difficult to understand why. Separations are emotional times and are sometimes triggered by extreme animosity, so it does not help when the issue of ongoing spousal support payments arises. One spouse may feel entitled to as much support as possible, while the other completely disagrees and does not feel that they should have to pay anything. How Does Alimony Work? A court can order a “supporting” spouse to make alimony payments to a “dependent” spouse based on numerous factors set forth in the North Carolina General Statutes. These factors generally allow a court to take a step back and look at the totality of the marriage. Some of the factors …

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Is the Child Yours? Steps to Establishing Paternity

In Child Custody by Elizabeth Stephenson

Fatherhood is a wonderful life experience and also a big responsibility. Fatherhood also comes with legal rights and important duties. These legal rights include the rights of custody, visitation, and access, so you have the ability to know the child, have a real relationship with the child, and help in making important decisions regarding the child’s upbringing. The most focused-upon duty that a father has is that of child support. While no one can disagree that fathers should have the right to visit with their children and bear financial responsibility for them, courts need to be sure that a man is a child’s father before allowing access and ordering many years of child support payments. This is why it is important to establish paternity. In order to exercise rights as …