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Avoiding Costly Mistakes When You Divorce

In Separation & Divorce by Carly Baker

The end of a marriage is a major life event that can completely rattle the strongest people. It is therefore natural that people in the midst of a separation may make decisions and say things they normally wouldn’t say. Anger and sadness are incredibly powerful emotions that can overtake the frontal lobe of our brains, leading to poor and impulsive choices. To put it mildly, these bad decisions can be costly when it comes to a divorce. If you are considering separating from your spouse, or if you are already separated and headed for divorce, these are some of the critical mistakes to avoid. Engaging in harassment, stalking, or domestic violence against your spouse. These actions can result in arrests, protective orders, criminal charges, and criminal convictions—which comes at the …

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When Your Child Doesn’t Want to Visit

In Child Custody, Parenting, Relationships by Sarah Hink

In our practice, it is not uncommon to hear circumstances where children refuse visitation with their non-custodial parent. Regardless of why the child is refusing visitation, these situations can be awkward, tricky, and can add fuel to a fire that has been raging between separated or divorced parents. Therefore, if you are the custodian of a child who is refusing visitation, or if you are a parent whose children have expressed a desire not to see you, you should be mindful of why this is happening and what you can do about it. Why Would a Child Say No to Visits? Why would a child say no to a visit with a parent? Sometimes, there isn’t anything nefarious about it: kids may want to spend time with their friends or …

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What is Joint Legal Custody?

In Child Custody, Parenting by Sarah Hink

Child custody issues comprise some of the most emotional and bitterly contested battles that our family law firm sees. The reason is obvious for anyone with kids: nothing in the world matters more than their safety, stability, and happiness. Physical Custody versus Legal Custody There are essentially two types of custody recognized by North Carolina family courts: legal and physical custody. Physical custody is what most people envision when they think of custody. It can be described as whom the child lives with, where the child lives, and when the child sees each parent. In contrast, legal custody encompasses the rights and duties of parents in making major parenting decisions regarding a child. These decisions include a child’s education, health and medical decisions, activities, and religious upbringing. Beyond the types …

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Securing and Enforcing Alimony Payments

In Separation & Divorce, Wealth by Elizabeth Stephenson

Alimony, which is interchangeably referred to as spousal support, consists of payments made from one spouse to another. The purpose is to support and maintain a spouse during the post-separation period or following the divorce decree. Parties can agree to alimony payments, or courts can award alimony based on many factors; notably, marital misconduct among these factors. So unsurprisingly, alimony proceedings can be among the most contentious of all family law matters. So what happens when there is an agreement or an order to pay alimony, but the supporting spouse is unable or unwilling to pay? Regardless of the reasons, if your spouse stops paying, you have legal rights. The Powers of the Court The North Carolina General Statutes Section 50-16.7 states that: “The court may require the supporting spouse …

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Understanding Parental Kidnapping

In Child Custody by Sarah Hink

Custody battles can be an incredibly dark time for everyone involved. Both sides love and want to maximize their time with their children. Further, underlying a custody battle is often the dissolution of a family, which brings about feelings of hopelessness, disappointment, and resentment. The dynamics that led to the couple’s separation only add fuel to the fire when fighting over custody. When a custody order is actually entered by a court, parties are required to abide by the provisions of those orders as to the legal and physical custody of the children. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. In the most extreme violation of custody orders, a parent may refuse to return children following their visitation period, keep children away from a parent who is entitled to access, or …

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When Do Protective Orders Expire?

In Domestic Violence by Sarah Hink

For its victims and survivors, domestic violence is truly terrifying. The actions of the abuser have stripped them of their trust, their security, and any peace of mind. When the abuser is out there and remains a safety threat, one of the few tools that a victim has is to seek a domestic violence protective order (DVPO). What is a DVPO? A DVPO is a court order that restricts an abuser from being in the physical proximity of the victim, or harassing the victim via telephone, email, or mail. In addition, a DVPO may address the victim’s living situation by expelling an abusive spouse from the home. Protective orders are granted if the aggrieved party can demonstrate that a person with whom they had a personal relationship committed one or …

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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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How Long Will I Have To Pay Alimony?

In Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

When it comes to alimony, the two big questions most people have are (1) how much, and (2) for how long.  Neither is a simple question to answer. The law gives heavy discretion to the judge to determine how much and for how long, as it “It is a question of fairness and justice to all parties”, as stated in recent North Carolina caselaw. The general statutes state that “The court shall exercise its discretion in determining the amount, duration, and manner of payment of alimony. The duration of the award may be for a specified or for an indefinite term.” To help guide the court in deciding the amount and duration of alimony, the statute lists sixteen factors for consideration. Three of those factors strongly swing the length of …