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How North Carolina Courts Enforce Child Support Orders

In Child Support by Sarah Hink

For parents who have primary custody of their children, child support is a necessity and not a luxury. This money is essential for meeting children’s basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, medical care, education, and the many additional expenses that come with raising a child. Parents are under a legal and moral duty to provide for their children; unfortunately, not all parents fulfill their duty. When there is a court order for child support in place, this duty becomes legally enforceable. So what happens when a parent who has been ordered to pay child support fails to meet their obligation? Child Support Enforcement Actions North Carolina General Statute Section 50-13.4 allows for any parent or person that has custody of a child to file a legal action seeking child support …

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The Impact of Substance Abuse on Divorce

In Child Custody, Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

Substance abuse by a spouse can destroy a marriage. For starters, a spouse who abuses alcohol or drugs can be unreliable, can destroy a couple’s finances by wasting money on their substance of choice, and will certainly make poor decisions. This is because substance abusers will always put their drugs or alcohol first. People who are addicted to substances also lie to protect themselves and their addiction, which completely erodes the trust vital to a healthy relationship. Significantly, a person who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol has impaired judgment. There is a correlation between substance abuse and neglectful parenting, driving under the influence, domestic violence, and child abuse. While spouses who abuse substances deserve empathy an opportunity to rehabilitate themselves, every person has their limits, especially when …

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Violence and Visitation Do Not Mix

In Child Custody, Domestic Violence by Sarah Hink

Children and family violence do not mix. Children are vulnerable and completely depend on adults to provide them with safety and stability. Domestic violence and child abuse are devastating to children. Firstly, there is the risk or actual bodily harm suffered by children exposed to violence in the home. Secondly, children also experience an incredible emotional detriment when they are physically abused or they witness violence against a household member. They can carry this trauma with them their entire lives and are more likely to have significant mental health issues, to have trust issues, and to enter into violent relationships when they become adults. Child Custody Determinations Consider Violence Courts recognize the risks and impact that violence has and do not tolerate violence when it comes to children. The last …

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Appreciating All Pets! (National Love Your Pet Day)

In Lifestyle, Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

Tuesday, February 20th is Love Your Pet Day, a day that is arguably more important than Valentine’s Day—at least to animal lovers! To mark the occasion, we would encourage you to spend the day spoiling your loving companion(s). Try a pet spa, make them a fancy meal, and let them break a rule or two. Pet Custody and Divorce If you think about it, human relationships may be fleeting, but your animal will love you for its entire life. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for a cat or dog to have known several of your partners in its lifetime. For married couples, animals also have a unique connection with your children, as you watch them grow, bond, and age together. Therefore, when it comes to family pets and divorce, things …

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What Constitutes Reconciliation During a Separation?

In Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

Life is fluid and people change their minds all the time. We see this proven when people find themselves in cycles of breaking up then making up with a partner. Our hearts and our emotions can be unpredictable, especially when there is a shared history and an emotional investment that is hard to abruptly end. North Carolina law requires that couples separate for a year prior to seeking a divorce. This means that at least one spouse intends to separate and that they live separate and apart from one another. What many couples discover is that a year is a long time. This begs the questions: what happens when couples get back together during that year? What are the Effects of Reconciliation? When a couple reconciles during a separation period, …

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Chinese New Year 2018 (Celebrating Multicultural Relationships)

In Lifestyle, Relationships by Elizabeth Stephenson

Chinese New Year is the most widely celebrated holiday of the year in China, in many other East Asian countries, and by people of Asian ethnic heritage around the globe. Also referred to as the “Spring” Festival, or the Lunar New Year, this day is annually observed in accordance with the first day of the new moon (based on the lunar calendar). Celebrations of this joyous occasion are generally marked by Lion (or Dragon) dances, firecrackers, fireworks, and dance performances. In addition, numerous customs are practiced, including family gatherings, shared meals, eating long noodles to signify long life, and giving red envelopes of money to children to signify prosperity. This year, Chinese New Year is on February 16, 2018 and marks the beginning of the Year of the Dog. Many …

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Random Act of Kindness Day

In Community, Health, Lifestyle by Sarah Hink

There is no disputing that we are living in divisive and negative times. From television, to social media, to interpersonal interactions, there seems to be a combative dynamic on every imaginable issue. Fortunately, good deeds and basic decency transcend politics and can help us see that we share more common ground than we like to admit. If you want proof of this, read articles or watch videos of complete strangers responding during natural disasters, such as Hurricane Harvey or the California fire and mudslides. In essence, people are still good, but we need reminders now more than ever. February 17th is Random Act of Kindness Day. Started in 1995 by the eponymous Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, this is a day to celebrate and promote people paying it forward. The …

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Valentine’s Day Will Be Okay

In Lifestyle, Relationships, Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

Valentine’s Day, as always, is on February 14th. Of course, you already knew that. It is hard to avoid when every grocery store, Wal-Mart, Target, and drug store has garish pink and red aisles filled with endless bears, heart shaped boxes, and special pink M&M’s candies. Also, every chocolatier and bakery is advertising chocolate dipped strawberries, while every florist is running ads for red roses. Some people love Valentine’s Day and everything that it is meant to represent: love, romance, passion, and care. Others don’t care for it. When you have recently separated, Valentine’s Day can be an occasion that you dread and actively despise. If you fall into this category, we have a few ideas to get you through the day. Remember that you are not alone. Just do …

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Understanding Attorney-Client Privilege

In Child Custody, Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

The attorney client relationship is an incredibly important one. In order to navigate the legal system, an attorney is an absolute necessity in most proceedings. However, for that representation to be effective, a client and attorney must be able to freely speak about a case. This allows an attorney to provide comprehensive and thorough legal advice. Significantly, an attorney must have all the information necessary to provide effective legal representation. The Attorney Client Privilege The attorney-client privilege is one of the hallmarks of the American legal system. It is also one of the primary mechanisms that allows for free communication between a client and an attorney. In North Carolina, Rule of Professional Conduct 1.6(a) states that: A lawyer shall not reveal information acquired during the professional relationship with a client …

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You’re Separated and Cannot Find Your Spouse

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

North Carolina is an absolute divorce state, meaning that couples must be separated for a period of a year before they can ask a family court for a divorce decree. Unfortunately, a lot can happen when couples are separated for long periods of time. Whether it is by circumstance or by design, once the relationship ends, some spouses stop communicating with each other. We’ve seen scenarios where spouses move away without a trace or simply don’t want to be found. Why is this a problem? Because of concepts known as “service” and “jurisdiction”. Jurisdiction is Latin for “to speak the law”. In essence, for any court in this country to create a valid, enforceable order against a person, it must have personal jurisdiction over that person. If it a court …