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Frequently Asked Questions: Equitable Distribution

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

When it comes to the end of a marriage, couples have to find a resolution about their children and their money. Naturally, these issues can be sources of incredible tension and conflict. If you are considering a divorce, then it is of great importance that you take an informed, smart approach before agreeing to anything. Otherwise, you may be leaving a considerable amount of money on the table or waiving important legal rights. Therefore, we recommend that you contact an attorney and review some of our most frequently asked questions. What Property Will I Get When I Divorce?  The answer essentially depends on when the property was acquired. If it was acquired or earned prior to your date of marriage, then you will likely take it with you when your …

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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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Are Common Law Marriages Recognized in North Carolina?

In Relationships, Separation & Divorce by Carly Baker

The concept of common law marriage is an informal situation in which a couple resides together and holds themselves out to their community as husband and wife. This is informal because the couple has not undergone the formal process or met the requisites to obtain a marriage license, which includes: Obtaining a marriage license directly from a county clerk in North Carolina. This requires an application, meeting the age requirements, as well as ID, social security number, and paying a fee. Or, Having a religious officiant or properly ordained person perform a ceremony, then verify and submit a marriage license to a county clerk. There are several states across the country that recognize common law marriage if a couple has held themselves out as married for a specific number of …

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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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Frequently Asked Questions: Alimony in North Carolina

In Separation & Divorce, Wealth by Carly Baker

For many couples who divorce, alimony is an important and potentially hard-fought issue. Designed to provide for the maintenance and support of a spouse following the dissolution of a marriage, alimony can be hard to understand because there are so many factors that a court can weigh when deciding the duration and amount of this spousal support. Below are the answers to some frequently asked questions we encounter regarding alimony. How Long Will I Receive Alimony? There are no one-size fits all answers to this question, as judges are afforded broad discretion when it comes to alimony awards. However, many courts will heavily weigh the duration of the marriage in determining whether to award temporary or indefinite alimony to a spouse. The way that many courts consider the duration of …

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North Carolina’s New Domestic Violence Legislation

In Domestic Violence by Sarah Hink

According to North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, there were 82 homicides in 2016 caused by domestic violence. In 2017, there have already been 46 domestic violence related homicides. Domestic violence is a very real and prevalent problem, and the North Carolina legislature and governor have given some attention to issue this legislative session. Britny’s Law 22 year old Britny Puryear was in a four year relationship with Logan McLean and they had a five month old child together. On November 6, 2014, McLean murdered her by shooting her in the back of the head. There was a history of domestic violence by McLean against Puryear, which included choking her and throwing her down a staircase while she was pregnant. Despite this history, he was allowed to plead guilty to …

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Grandparents Have Rights Too!

In Child Custody by Sarah Hink

Grandparents are special to children; they provide endless love, admiration, and cookies. Under North Carolina law, a grandparent includes a biological grandparent of a child, a step-grandparent when the stepparent has adopted the child, or a relative of the child where a substantial grandparent-like relationship exists between the relative and the child. When custody of a child is challenged, there is a presumption in North Carolina that the parent is favored over a third party for the award of custody. In fact, parents have a constitutionally protected right to the care, custody, and control of their children. As the US Supreme Court has said, “It is cardinal with us that the custody, care and nurture of the child reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom include preparation …

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What you need to know about military child custody arrangements.

In Child Custody by Elizabeth Stephenson

Custody issues can be difficult in any separation or divorce, but they become more complicated when one or both parents are members of the military. Military careers can require permanent or temporary transfers, long-term or short-term deployments, and deployments with little or no notice. If you are separated or divorced, your custody arrangements need to take into account possible deployments or transfers. Military service is not supposed to have a negative impact on custody arrangements. Judges are supposed to award custody on factors that are in the best interests of the child. However, some people worry that the courts will consider military parents as unsuitable for custody due to the nature of their employment. Sometime the non-military parent will sue for divorce or custody while the military parent is deployed, …