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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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Why an Acknowledgement of Paternity Matters

In Child Custody by Sarah Hink

Becoming a father is a really big deal in a man’s life. You have contributed to the creation of a life—a person who shares your genetics, who has some of your physical looks and features, and who needs a father. It is therefore critical to understand how the law treats “paternity”, or a man’s status as a child’s father. If a child’s father and mother are married at the time of the child’s birth, then there is a legal presumption that the husband is the child’s father and no further steps need to be taken to establish paternity of the child. The same is true if a mother and father get married after a child is born, which retroactively creates the presumption that the man is the father. However, if …

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Frequently Asked Questions: Alimony in North Carolina

In Separation & Divorce, Wealth by Carly Baker

For many couples who divorce, alimony is an important and potentially hard-fought issue. Designed to provide for the maintenance and support of a spouse following the dissolution of a marriage, alimony can be hard to understand because there are so many factors that a court can weigh when deciding the duration and amount of this spousal support. Below are the answers to some frequently asked questions we encounter regarding alimony. How Long Will I Receive Alimony? There are no one-size fits all answers to this question, as judges are afforded broad discretion when it comes to alimony awards. However, many courts will heavily weigh the duration of the marriage in determining whether to award temporary or indefinite alimony to a spouse. The way that many courts consider the duration of …

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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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Seeking a Higher Education After You Divorce

In Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

Attaining a college degree, a professional license, a masters degree, or other certification is part of the American Dream for a lot of people. Not only is there a sense of pride and accomplishment in this achievement, but it can also be an essential step toward career advancement and higher salary. For some, dreams of a higher education were put on hold, or did not even start, due to marriage and family. In fact, staying home with children or supporting another spouse’s career advancement is a decision that many people face. Therefore, the spouse that puts aside their educational goals for the sake of family or marriage may find themselves at a disadvantage should their marriages end. Fortunately, there may be relief for spouses in this position. Alimony Supports Further …

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How Civil No Contact Orders Work

In Domestic Violence, Lifestyle, Separation & Divorce by Carly Baker

Violence, sexual assault, stalking, and harassment are a nightmare, and those who live under the threat of a person who has committed these acts need help to protect themselves. Beyond help from law enforcement, there are civil orders that can provide legal protection and restrain perpetrators from continuing their misconduct. These are Domestic Violence Protective Orders (DVPO) and Civil No Contact Orders. The two are different, and even if you don’t qualify for one, the other might apply to your circumstances. Civil No Contact Order A civil no contact order is a restraining order that can be obtained by a victim against a perpetrator of unlawful conduct. This unlawful conduct includes stalking, non-consensual sexual conduct, acts that would make a reasonable person fear for his or her safety, as well …

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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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Putting Your Phone Down

In Parenting, Relationships by Sarah Hink

It is hard to imagine that there was a time when the Internet didn’t exist, when there wasn’t social media. There used to be a time when we had to go to a library and use the card catalog system to find the answer to a question. Now, we have Google, or we can even just speak to Siri or Alexa to instantly get an answer. Smart phones have really changed everything. These magical computers can connect us to the entire world, to everyone we’ve ever met, to games, to instant news, to music, to silly cat videos, to love matches, and to car rides. Unfortunately, with the world at our fingertips, it is easy to lose sight of the world around us. Phones and the Internet have a great …

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Your Divorce Does Not Have to Close Your Small Business

In Separation & Divorce, Wealth by Carly Baker

Small business owners put a lot of themselves into the success of their business. They work incredibly hard, take enormous financial risks, and put aside other aspects of their lives in an effort to realize the American Dream. In essence, it becomes a part of an owner’s identity. Unfortunately, when a small business owner gets a divorce, it puts the business at the mercy of the equitable distribution proceedings. The reason for this is that for legal purposes, sole proprietorships and their owners are one in the same. In other words, when you do your business’s taxes, you do it under your personal tax return. Further, if you are sued, you are personally liable for the liabilities of your business. So if you are getting a divorce, your small business …