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Prenuptial Agreements Protect Both Partners

In Separation & Divorce, Wealth by Elizabeth Stephenson

Whenever celebrities or powerful public figures announce a divorce, people flock to TMZ or other gossip sites to see if there was a prenuptial agreement (or prenup). The general idea behind this fascination is that without a prenuptial agreement, all of the marital property earned and acquired during a marriage is subject to getting spilt in half between the parties. So, when a super-wealthy pop singer marries, then divorces her backup dancer husband without a prenup, the headline becomes: pop singer loses half her fortune in divorce. Unfortunately, these headlines are misleading as they ignore the fundamental idea behind marital property—that both spouses make a balanced contribution to the marriage, household, and children. In addition, they create a one-dimensional picture of what prenuptial agreements are actually used for in practice. …

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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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How Do I Enforce a Post-Separation Agreement?

In Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

In North Carolina, married couples who seek a divorce are required to live separate and apart for a full year before filing for divorce. This presents a slew of logistical problems as life keeps moving and there are many changes that happen during that year. A year is a very long time to live in a state of uncertainty. With this in mind, many couples opt to enter into a separation agreement to bridge the gap between when they separate and when permanent orders are entered or even longer. A separation agreement is a legally binding instrument that may address issues such as property division, living arrangements, spousal support, debt, expenses, child custody, and child support. If parties can reach this agreement, it can be an incredible relief for everyone …

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How North Carolina Courts Enforce Child Support Orders

In Child Support by Sarah Hink

For parents who have primary custody of their children, child support is a necessity and not a luxury. This money is essential for meeting children’s basic needs of food, shelter, clothing, medical care, education, and the many additional expenses that come with raising a child. Parents are under a legal and moral duty to provide for their children; unfortunately, not all parents fulfill their duty. When there is a court order for child support in place, this duty becomes legally enforceable. So what happens when a parent who has been ordered to pay child support fails to meet their obligation? Child Support Enforcement Actions North Carolina General Statute Section 50-13.4 allows for any parent or person that has custody of a child to file a legal action seeking child support …

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Why You Need a Custody Order

In Child Custody by Sarah Hink

When couples that have children separate, there is a wide spectrum of how they are able to co-exist and co-parent. Some parents may fight tooth and nail over child custody. Other parents are able to reach informal, verbal agreements that provide ample parenting time and works out great. Unfortunately, no matter how civil and amicable your relationship with your ex, there are compelling legal and practical reasons to obtain child custody orders. Custody orders are enforceable and provide protection. Without custody orders, anything goes. Either parent can come and go with the child as they please since there is no order for law enforcement or courts to hold the other parent accountable. So if an amicable co-parenting relationship suddenly turns, there is no safety net in place to stop a …

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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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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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When a Visitation Schedule and Summer Plans Collide

In Child Custody by Sarah Hink

Summer is a great time for the kids. School is out, they get to spend extended time with friends and go to summer camps. If parents are separated or divorced, summer is a time that the children may have extended visitation with their non-custodial parent. Many non-custodial parents really treasure this time, as it is one of the few occasions that they can spend a great deal of time with their children. Unfortunately, sometimes the other parent has different plans for the children. At New Direction Family Law, we see a great deal of conflict between parents arise over this precious summer time. A frequent, and somewhat complicated question that we are asked is: what happens when parents disagree over the children’s summer plans? Parenting Plans Account for the Summer …

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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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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 …