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What to Bring to Your Initial Consultation

In Child Custody, Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

Beyond the emotional toll that comes with a separation or a dispute over child custody, there is the practical aspect of reaching a legal and enforceable resolution that will help you move forward with your life. In reaching this resolution, many people find it critical to retain the services of an attorney for advice, for information, and for advocacy. It really does you no harm to at least consult with an attorney. In fact, failing to utilize an attorney regarding property division, alimony, or child custody can be detrimental to your financial future or even your parent-child relationship. This is due to the risks of missed deadlines, waiving legal rights, and getting taken advantage of by your spouse’s attorney. What to Bring to Your Initial Consultation On that note, if …

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The Nuts and Bolts of an Equitable Distribution Proceeding

In Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

When couples separate with the intention of a divorce, one of the big issues that couples must resolve is property. Property division is handled through an equitable distribution in North Carolina, meaning all marital property is split between spouses in an equitable manner. If you are on the verge of a separation, it will be useful to understand the nuts and bolts of an equitable distribution proceeding. Is An Agreement Possible? The first scenario in which a couple may divide their property is by agreement. If they executed a prenuptial agreement prior to their marriage, then the terms of that agreement are likely to be legally binding on each spouse. If there are any unresolved issues or unaddressed property, then the couple will need to address this following their separation. …

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Do I Need a Lawyer for Property Division?

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

Dividing property when you separate from a spouse can be an awkward, intricate, and adversarial process. While emotions are still simmering from the separation, you must determine what property you both own, who the property actually belongs to, what it is worth, and who should walk away with it. In short, the timing is terrible and there is simultaneously little margin for error on decisions that could make or break your financial future. With that in mind, it should go without saying that you should at least think about hiring an attorney. How Does Property Division Work in North Carolina? North Carolina employs an “equitable distribution” method of dividing marital property. This generally means that all property obtained or earned during a marriage is spilt equally between separating spouses. However, …

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Who Does the House Belong To?

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

In many marriages, a house is the most valuable property a couple owns. This is true both literally and figuratively. Not only is a home of great financial value, but it is also a place full of memories and firsts for couples and their children. The first place you lived together, the place where your children were raised from birth, and the place your children feel safe. Your family’s home is a really big deal. As a consequence, when couples separate and divorce, houses are an incredible source of conflict. This leads to the key questions: who will get the house at the conclusion of the divorce process? Is There an Agreement? The answer to this question is pretty straight forward if parties have a prenuptial agreement, or a separation …

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What to Consider When Negotiating a Post-Separation Agreement

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

When married couples decide to divorce in North Carolina, the law requires that couples first separate for a full year. Couples who enter this separation period unprepared and unaware learn the hard way that this year may seem like a VERY long time. This is because couples that are experiencing the raw emotion of ending their relationship must also make big decisions about children, property, and money. Separation agreements are legally binding contracts that spouses enter into when they choose to separate. These agreements address critical subjects, such as property division, spousal support, living arrangements, child custody, and child support. These are legally binding agreements, so long as they are signed and notarized by both parties and do not violate an existing law or public policy. We recommend considering a …

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Distinguishing Marital Property from Separate Property

In Separation & Divorce, Wealth by Elizabeth Stephenson

When couples divorce, one of the big issues that must be resolved is how to divide property. In the absence of a pre-nuptial agreement that addresses property division, the law entitles spouses to seek an equitable division of marital property. In short, this means that a court will take the total fair market value of all of a couple’s marital property and divide it in an equitable manner in consideration of numerous statutory factors. Significantly, property that is considered “separate” property is not subject to division. Therefore, the classification of property as marital or separate is critical for both parties. What is Marital Property? Marital property is defined as “all real and personal property acquired by either spouse or both spouses during the course of the marriage and before the …

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How Can I Prepare for a Divorce?

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

The decision to divorce is a massive one. The end of a relationship and an uncertain future can create simultaneous emotions of regret, sadness, anger, and anxiety. Nevertheless, it is important to be mindful that the decisions you make now will have a tremendous impact on your future and to take a methodical, informed approach toward your divorce. First, it is critical to understand that North Carolina is an absolute divorce state. This means that a couple must live separate and apart for at least a year before they can obtain a divorce. Each state has its own divorce laws that mandate a specific amount of time for a couple to be separated before filing for divorce, and many people who have obtained a divorce in North Carolina will tell …

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The Impact of Substance Abuse on Divorce

In Child Custody, Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

Substance abuse by a spouse can destroy a marriage. For starters, a spouse who abuses alcohol or drugs can be unreliable, can destroy a couple’s finances by wasting money on their substance of choice, and will certainly make poor decisions. This is because substance abusers will always put their drugs or alcohol first. People who are addicted to substances also lie to protect themselves and their addiction, which completely erodes the trust vital to a healthy relationship. Significantly, a person who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol has impaired judgment. There is a correlation between substance abuse and neglectful parenting, driving under the influence, domestic violence, and child abuse. While spouses who abuse substances deserve empathy an opportunity to rehabilitate themselves, every person has their limits, especially when …

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Protecting Your Credit from a Spiteful Ex

In Domestic Violence, Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

A period of separation can be a time of spite and poor decisions. At New Direction Family Law, we see no shortage of bad breakups and the resulting misbehavior. One way that this manifests itself is with money. Property division, alimony, and child support are some of the most bitter battles in family law. So it isn’t entirely surprising when one spouse tries to punish the other by trying to destroy their credit. Tampering with another person’s credit is unlawful, yet this does little to deter a person set on revenge. The impact of identity theft can range from annoying to financially devastating, as it can affect your ability to borrow money, buy a home, rent an apartment, or even obtain employment. Therefore, we would suggest you remain vigilant and …

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Why Your Date of Separation Matters

In Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

Unlike many other states, North Carolina law does not allow for fault-based divorce grounds. So if a spouse abandons or cheats on the other spouse, they cannot file for divorce on this basis. Instead, North Carolina is an absolute divorce state, meaning a couple is required to be separated for a full year before a divorce can be sought. Once the year and a day since the date of separation has passed, either spouse can file for an absolute divorce based solely on the passage of one year’s time. Because of the nature of an absolute divorce, a couple’s date of separation is an incredibly important date. When is Your Date of Separation? A couple has to live separate and apart during the one-year time frame. Living in separate rooms …