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What Healthy Self-Care Looks Like When You Separate

In Health, Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

It is hard to feel like yourself when you separate from your spouse. This is a completely natural consequence of the end of a significant relationship, the complete disruption in your daily routine, and the process of coming to terms with these major life changes. While separation and divorce are fairly common, it is also unfortunately common to see people fail to properly take care of themselves during this time of need. It is worth taking care of yourself during a difficult separation. In the future, when you are in a better place and look back at these times, you will not regret it. Proper self-care includes stepping back and considering the combination of your mind, body, and soul. Mind — Separations are a traumatic experience. It is important to …

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Understanding Stepparent Adoption

In Child Custody, Parenting by Sarah Hink

When a parent who has primary custody of a child remarries, that stepparent becomes a significant part of that child’s life. For some children, that stepparent becomes that child’s caretaker, provider, stability, and emotional support. Legally though, that stepparent is not the child’s parent. This means that the stepparent lacks significant decision-making ability regarding that child and does not have custody of the child. This is where stepparent adoption comes into play. In the increasingly common circumstance of a stepparent who has taken on a true parental role of a child in his or her home, the North Carolina General Statutes allows for such stepparent to legally adopt a child, if specific conditions exist. The Stepparent Must Be Married to a Biological Parent For a stepparent to seek adoption of …

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Budgeting for Your Children’s College

In Parenting, Wealth by Carly Baker

The dream of many parents is to put their children in a position to succeed—to reach even greater career heights than their parents. The first step toward attaining this goal is for children to obtain a higher education by going to college. Unfortunately, college is expensive. Really expensive, as you have to pay for tuition, textbooks, supplies, clothes, phone plan, housing, utilities, food, and a little spending money. Unsurprisingly, the rate at which college costs have increased has far outpaced the rate at which most parents’ salaries have increased. More than ever, it is crucial to approach your child’s college education with a plan. As the idea is for your child to one day become a self-sufficient adult, this college plan should be part of a coordinated team effort between …

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Co-Parenting with Class

In Child Custody, Parenting by Elizabeth Stephenson

If you keep up with celebrity gossip—like many of us secretly do—then you may have recently read that Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck finalized their divorce after several years of separation. While celebrity divorces are nothing new, their path to divorce is notable because of the remarkable amount of cooperation that Garner and Affleck displayed when it came to putting their children first. This is in stark contrast to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, who have aired many of their parenting grievances against each other through the media. For Garner and Affleck, their path to divorce began with Affleck’s infidelity. Despite this, both were able to live their separate lives in the public eye without uttering a single negative word about one another. Additionally, when Garner saw that Affleck was …

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Guiding Children Through Political Turbulence

In Parenting by Sarah Hink

It isn’t controversial to say that we are living in an era of extraordinary political divisiveness. Communities, friendships, relationships, and even families are being tested as neither side of the political spectrum seem willing to find common ground on virtually any issue. Unfortunately, with politics being served to us in real time via social media and through a non-stop news cycle, it is increasingly difficult to shelter our children from an incredibly negative time in our country. Children hear the news when the television is on, they hear it on the radio, they witness incredibly negative campaign ads, and they hear it from friends. And if you think about it, you have probably had numerous conversations about your political views within earshot of your children. While it simply isn’t possible, …

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How Do I Enforce a Separation Agreement?

In Separation & Divorce by Carly Baker

Separation agreements are legal contracts that many North Carolina couples create when they separate with the intention of divorcing. Because it takes a full year before a couple can seek a divorce from a North Carolina family court, these agreements provide stability and predictability for critical issues like: Who gets to stay in the marital home? Where are the children going to live? Who is going to pay child support, and how much? How are parents going to divide their time with the children? Is a dependent spouse going to receive monthly post-separation support? How is property and debt going to be divided? How are the bills and expenses going to be paid? These agreements are common and popular because they keep most divorcing couples out of a courtroom until …

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Facing Your Feelings When You Separate

In Health, Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

Separating from a partner is a sad and painful time in anyone’s life. No matter how many relationships someone has been through, experience does little to dampen the pain that person feels when faced with the reality that it is really over. The way a person copes when facing these intense feelings matters a great deal, as avoidance just prolongs the process of moving forward; and worse, unhealthy coping mechanisms like substance abuse can lead a person into a long-term spiral that can be tough to overcome. Therefore, any professional counselor or mental health specialist will tell you that it is important to face your feelings when you separate. Allow Yourself to “Feel” Your Feelings Try journaling your emotions. Sometimes it is easier to identify that something is wrong by …

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Best Interest and a Father’s Rights

In Child Custody by Sarah Hink

Fathers often get a bad rap when it comes to public perceptions of parental responsibility and child custody issues. While there may be historic truth to mothers serving as primary caregivers of children, and there are certainly parents who shirk their responsibility to their children, it does not help that we have become accustomed to caricatures of men on the Maury Povich Show who are actively seeking to deny paternity to children. These men who dance and celebrate when they are declared not the father are a far cry from the many men we see as family law attorneys who are seeking to maximize their parental rights to their children. It is an indisputable fact that times have evolved regarding careers and parenting roles; and with this evolution, there are …

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Are Common Law Marriages Recognized in North Carolina?

In Relationships, Separation & Divorce by Carly Baker

The concept of common law marriage is an informal situation in which a couple resides together and holds themselves out to their community as husband and wife. This is informal because the couple has not undergone the formal process or met the requisites to obtain a marriage license, which includes: Obtaining a marriage license directly from a county clerk in North Carolina. This requires an application, meeting the age requirements, as well as ID, social security number, and paying a fee. Or, Having a religious officiant or properly ordained person perform a ceremony, then verify and submit a marriage license to a county clerk. There are several states across the country that recognize common law marriage if a couple has held themselves out as married for a specific number of …

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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 …