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Nasty Custody Disputes: What Not to Do

In Child Custody by Sarah Hink

Disputes over child custody can get highly contested when parents aren’t able to reach agreements. This is unfortunate as everyone involved—especially the children—are experiencing their own unique trauma and have to learn on the fly how to cope. But as experienced family law attorneys, we see the anger, desperation, and poor decision making that can arise in the context of child custody, along with the horrendous consequences. We therefore urge our clients to avoid the following actions at all costs. Don’t Resort to Harassment, Stalking, or Violence Harassment, stalking, or violence have never resulted in a positive outcome for the person responsible. In fact, it is terrifying at best and deadly at its worst. If you resort to any of these actions, then you can count on three legal outcomes: …

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Are Custody and Child Support Linked?

In Child Custody, Child Support by Elizabeth Stephenson

Parents Improperly Fight Using Support and Custody Unfortunately, the two issues are often intertwined in the minds of parents, since they both involve the children and generally come about during the same period of time. As a result, we often see parents attempt to punish one another by using custody and visitation or child support as leverage. In other words, when a parent is late paying support or stops paying support, then the parent deprived of support sometimes decides to withhold custodial time in retaliation. Or, when one parent deprives the other of visitation, then the wronged parent stops paying child support in response. When parents engage in this conduct, not only is it contrary to the child’s best interest, but it is also often unlawful. The fact is child …

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A Court’s Contempt Powers

In Child Custody, Child Support, Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

When you obtain a favorable court order, there is natural a level of vindication that a court has agreed with what you asked for. In addition, there is a sense of security that this set of papers give you: that the issue is resolved and the other person has to follow the order. Unfortunately, as we have seen many times in our decades of practice, people don’t always follow court orders. There is often a frustrating reality that if a person fails to follow an order, it is difficult to get immediate relief. There is no special “order enforcement” team that courts send out to ensure compliance. And if you contact the police to enforce an order, you will find that law enforcement is generally unwilling to assist in enforcing …

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Withholding Visitation

In Child Custody by Sarah Hink

When parents separate or divorce, one of the many challenges that face them is getting along for the sake of the children. As difficult as this time is for the parents, it is often taken for granted how terrible the experience is for children of any age, and the long-term impact that it has on their emotional development. Unfortunately, parents make poor decisions to spite each other. One of these is the parent with custody withholding visitation from the other parent. There are numerous ways in which this occurs. A Parent Occasionally Withholds Visits It is common that a parent with primary custody cancels occasional visits. Some custody orders will account for missed visits by allowing the deprived parent to have make-up visitation. The best course of action in this …

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Dissipation of Marital Assets

In Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

Divorces can get messy. Incredibly, horribly, messy. People are angry and make decisions consistent with this rage. One of these decisions involves getting rid of marital property to punish their former spouse. North Carolina calls this dissipation of assets, which has serious repercussions for the perpetrator. What Constitutes Dissipation? The North Carolina legislature categorizes dissipation as acts of a party “to waste, neglect, devalue or convert the marital property or divisible property, or both, during the period after separation of the parties and before the time of distribution.” In other words, it is the act of depleting property from the marital estate. This is bad because the clear intent of a spouse who commits these acts is to reduce the amount that the other spouse gets out of the divorce. …

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Can I Change My Child Support Order?

In Child Support by Elizabeth Stephenson

No one can dispute that parents have a responsibility to financially take care of their children. Child support orders are designed for this specific purpose. If you are currently obligated to pay child support, you know that you must follow this order. In fact, you likely want to follow this order because you know that your child benefits. However, we understand that circumstances sometimes prevent this from happening, despite your best efforts. Life happens fast. Your job status and ability to generate income can dramatically and permanently alter your ability to comply with a child support order. What if you were a singer, but injured your vocal chords? Or if you were a business executive whose job became obsolete you’re your industry tanked? Unfortunately, child support orders are not fluid …

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Enforcing a Custody Order

In Child Custody by Sarah Hink

Do you have a child custody order or a divorce order that addresses your children? Is the visitation or access to your child that you were awarded in that order being withheld by the other parent? If the answer to both of these questions is “Yes”, then you should consult with an attorney to discuss an enforcement action. Enforcement Action If your children’s other parent is not complying with orders allowing visitation or access to your children, or depriving you of other rights granted by the custody order, you should document every violation. It is important to establish a pattern, since no court is going to take you seriously if you file a motion after one missed visit. If the other parent is non-compliant, contact an attorney, not law enforcement. …

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My Ex Has Stopped Paying Child Support

In Child Support by Elizabeth Stephenson

Has a North Carolina court issued a child support order for the financial benefit of your child? Has the other parent of your child stopped making payments? Or are they consistently late in making child support payments? If the answer is yes, then it is likely that your ex is violating a court order and your children are being deprived. As a result, you should contact an attorney to explore filing an enforcement action. Order to Show Cause To enforce a court order, such as a child support order, your attorney must file a Motion for Order to Show Cause. This motion provides a detailed account of non-payment or missed payment of child support. When you meet with your attorney, you should bring a copy of the child support order. …