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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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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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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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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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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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Common Misconceptions About Divorce in North Carolina

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

The legal process of a divorce can seem like an intimidating concept for many people. It represents an unknown and unfamiliar concept that seems prohibitively expensive and complex. These misconceptions have an unfortunate consequence of keeping spouses in marriages that should have ended long ago. If you are seriously struggling with your marriage, are considering a separation, or are already separated, we urge you not to put your life on hold for the mere reason that the legal aspects of divorce seem scary or expensive. Instead, we hope to dispel some common misconceptions about divorce in North Carolina. Absolute divorce is not based on fault. One common misconception about divorce is that a spouse has to prove that the marriage is ending because of the other spouse’s acts or omissions. …

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The Basics of Collaborative Law

In Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

The decision to separate with the intention of divorce is not a decision that people take lightly. It is the end of a significant chapter in each partner’s life and of a shared history. Sometimes, people want to end their marriage with a legal battle—to get some “justice” for wrongs that ended the relationship. Unfortunately, this often ends up being expensive and creating new resentments. Further, a prolonged legal fight never ends with either side feeling a healthy sense of closure needed to move forward. Collaborative Law Defined With the animosity, expense, and court time of a divorce fight in mind, there is a mechanism in place that allows divorcing couples an opportunity to end things amicably and by agreement. This is referred to as “collaborative law”. Collaborative law is …

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The Divorce Process Doesn’t Have to be Scary

In Separation & Divorce by Carly Baker

There is a mental process that married people go through when they consider whether to get divorced. They consider the emotional and practical implications of what a divorce would mean for themselves and for their children. The decision whether to divorce is a big one, and it is completely natural to go back and forth before actually putting the wheels in motion. Unfortunately, part of that equation for people is the belief that the legal process of getting divorced is intimidating. As family lawyers with over a decade of experience, we can tell you that the divorce process doesn’t have to be scary. An Absolute Divorce is Straightforward Getting legally divorced is actually a straightforward proposition. North Carolina is an absolute divorce state, in which a spouse is entitled to …

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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 …