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How Child Emancipation Works

In Child Custody, Parenting by Elizabeth Stephenson

While all parents take pride in supporting their children and fulfilling their parental duties, sometimes circumstances dictate that the these roles end earlier than we expect. While the age of adulthood is traditionally 18 years old, it is possible for a child to legally become an adult before then. Emancipation is the legally recognized mechanism in which a sixteen or seventeen year old minor can become an adult in the eyes of the law. In order to be emancipated and treated like an adult, a minor must demonstrate the ability to provide for himself like an adult, particularly in terms of financial independence. To qualify, a child must be 16 or 17 years old and have resided in North Carolina for at least six months prior to filing their petition …

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Separation and Your Child’s School

In Child Custody by Elizabeth Stephenson

A separation is not only hard for you, but it represents a significant event in the life and development of your children. This is not lost on family courts or on child development experts, who recommend parents create as safe, stable, and amicable a situation for their children as possible. With this in mind, it is critical to address how to create normalcy for your children when it comes to the place they spend the majority of their week—their school. Communicate With Your Child’s School One of the tough aspects of a separation or divorce is that you have no control over the rumor mill. It is not much different for children in school, as they deal with other children who spread information or rumors about each other. When it …

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Raising a Defense Against False Allegations

In Child Custody, Separation & Divorce by Carly Baker

Divorce and child custody disputes are among the most passion-inducing legal issues that civil attorneys face. Sometimes, in the heat of the situation and with a desire to win at all costs, we see people make bad decisions. One of those decisions is to make false allegations against the other party. Whether these allegations involve domestic violence, infidelity, fraud, or child abuse, it can all be incredibly damaging. While North Carolina is an absolute divorce state—which is a no-fault method of divorce—there are several areas in which misconduct can still play a role in the court’s decision-making process: Protective order—a spouse can get a domestic violence protective order against the other spouse, which can restrain the allegedly violent spouse from the home and the children. Divorce from Bed and Board—a …

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Is it Possible to Get Attorney’s Fees For Divorce Proceedings?

In Child Custody, Child Support, Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

It is exceedingly common for a financial imbalance to exist between couples that are divorcing. This can lead to fundamentally unfair situations where the spouse with greater resources can afford to retain an attorney while the other spouse cannot. This can create inequitable outcomes to critical legal issues like child custody, property division, alimony, and child support. To address this imbalance and to offer both sides an opportunity to a just resolution, the legislature has made it possible for a dependent spouse to obtain attorneys fees in certain situations. Post-Separation Support and Alimony — The North Carolina legislature has given the court the discretion to award attorneys fees in alimony and post-separation support suits. This makes logical sense as a spouse who is financially dependent on the other spouse probably …

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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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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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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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Helping Ease Your Child’s Separation Anxiety

In Child Custody by Elizabeth Stephenson

All children are different. They all have different personalities and different ways of coping with adversity. When children find themselves in the unfortunate situation of their parents separating, each child reacts differently. But even if a child isn’t outwardly showing signs that they are struggling, it is important to acknowledge that divorce is traumatic for all children. It is therefore parents’ duty to help their children cope with this trauma and find a path forward. One way that children’s lives can normalize following a divorce is with ample visitation with their parents. However, in the early phases of a separation, children can experience a natural amount of separation anxiety when it comes to leaving their primary caretaker and visiting with their other parent. This can manifest itself in many different …

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Tips for Child Proofing Your New Home

In Child Custody, Parenting by Elizabeth Stephenson

When couples divorce in North Carolina, they must live in separate residences for a year before they can seek a divorce decree from a court. While divorce is a significant and sad life experience, the prospect of moving into a new apartment or home can be a positive step toward moving forward. Further, furnishing and fixing up your new place can be a healthy distraction from your worries. If you have young children and plan to have overnight visits with them, then it is a good idea to take child proofing seriously. Here are some friendly ideas on where to start. If you have any heavy furniture, like a television stand, dresser, or shelf, make sure that it is anchored to a stud in the wall behind it. Anchors come …

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The Effects of Domestic Violence on Your Children

In Child Custody, Domestic Violence by Carly Baker

Domestic violence in a relationship is dangerous and can be deadly. While victims suffer both emotional and physical trauma from an abusive relationship, the impact of the violence on children must also be considered. During these formative times in their development, children need stability, safety, and trust. Unfortunately, the presence of domestic violence—whether it is occurs in the child’s presence or not—can throw a giant monkey wrench into all of these critical childhood needs. If this topic is relevant to your current relationship, consider the following: Domestic violence can be incredibly dangerous to children. While you love your children, domestic violence situations involve heightened emotions and bad decisions. This means that an abuser is not acting in children’s best interest and is putting them at great risk of harm; further, …