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Privacy, Separation, and Divorce

In Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

Divorce should be a private matter. The life you knew and had hoped would last forever is changing. In addition to the emotional implications of a divorce, there is a struggle to figure out where you fit in your extended family, amongst your friends, and in your community. In the thick of it all, you want privacy—not only for yourself, but for your children as well. Is There a Right to Privacy? Most civil court hearings are public—unless there is some public interest or existing law that entitles the parties to close the courtroom. In addition, the contents of a clerk’s legal file are generally considered public records. The exceptions to this rule are for cases or information that are sealed or are otherwise limited as permitted by law—examples being …

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Do I Have to Sign a Separation Agreement?

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

Marriage is supposed to last forever. Therefore, separations present a tumultuous and uncertain time. Not only is there the emotional trauma that comes with the end of a long-term relationship, but there are also big financial and logistical changes that are unavoidable. Unfortunately, if you are separated with the intention of a divorce, you will have to wait a while. This is because North Carolina requires a couple to be separated for an entire year before a court can grant a divorce. What is a Separation Agreement? Some couples choose to reach an agreement during their yearlong separation pending their divorce. A separation agreement is a legally enforceable document, like a contract, that can encompass issues such as property division, spousal support, living arrangements, taxes, child custody, and child support. …

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College Expenses and Separation

In Parenting, Separation & Divorce by Sarah Hink

As parents, we often go to great lengths to plan for our families’ futures. We invest money, we save, and we budget. When it comes to planning for our children’s futures, the American Dream involves providing them with opportunities we never had. This means putting our children through college. Unfortunately, separation and divorce can throw a giant monkey wrench into these plans. Separations Are Expensive In order to be considered legally separated for purposes of an absolute divorce, a couple must be living “separate and apart”. This means that the spouses cannot be living in the same home, or in separated bedrooms. Instead, they must be living in separate residences. What this means for budgeting purposes is that the family’s overall income is now paying for a mortgage on the …

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Resuming Your Career After Divorce

In Lifestyle, Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

For many married women, difficult choices are made when the couple starts a family. For women who are in college or are working when they decide to have children, a frequent dilemma arises. This dilemma is whether to continue working or whether to stay home and raise the children. Though not nearly as common, sometimes it is a father who will stay home to care for the children. Fortunately, the laws in North Carolina treat both spouses as equal contributors to a marriage. What this means is that even though a husband may earn a salary and financially support the family, the law sees the wife’s hard work and incredible responsibilities of raising the children and maintaining the household affords the husband the opportunity to earn money in the workforce. …

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What a Separation Agreement Cannot Include

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

Prior to a divorce in North Carolina, a couple must be separated for a year. This year can be fraught with uncertainty and instability, as the spouses must adjust to their new reality and figure out money, living situations, and child custody arrangements. One mechanism that separating couples can use to address some of the uncertainty up front is a separation agreement. Limitations to Separation Agreements A separation agreement is a legally enforceable contract between separating spouses that can encompass how property is classified and divided, who lives in the family home, child custody, spousal support, and child support. While these agreements can be wide in their scope, there are limitations to what they can include. They cannot absolve a person of debt to a third party. It is common …

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The Essentials of a Separation Agreement

In Separation & Divorce by Elizabeth Stephenson

Separating from a spouse is naturally an uncertain time. You are moving on from a person that you have built a life with, who you have a shared and significant history with, and who you once loved deeply. While painful, there are a lot of plans that need to be made to ensure that the separation proceeds smoothly. One of the mechanisms that couples can utilize to ease and clarify this process is a separation agreement. What is a Separation Agreement? In order for a married couple to obtain a divorce in North Carolina, they must be separated for a year and one day. To be considered separated, they must be living in separate residents for that entire time and it must be the intent of at least one spouse …

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All Treats, No Tricks: Tips for Co-Parenting this Halloween

In Child Custody by Sarah Hink

Halloween after divorce does not have to be scary, even if you are sharing custody of the children with your ex.  Sometimes your separation agreement or custody order may speak to how you are to split the fall holiday, either with the non-custodial parent getting a few hours that day or by alternating the holiday annually. However, many times Halloween is not addressed alongside the major holidays in ordinary custody arrangements, or perhaps you do not yet have a formalized custody agreement. Regardless, Halloween can still be happy and fun for both parents and child, and should be! Here are a few tips to help make co-parenting on Halloween a treat for everyone: Actively communicate As always, everyone’s case is different, but, if it is possible, both parents should be …

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New School Year, New Activities, New Custody Schedule?

In Child Custody by Elizabeth Stephenson

Now that another school year is about to start, it’s time to see if any tweaks or adjustments need to be made to your child’s custody schedule. Sometimes last year’s schedule won’t work as well this year. There are many factors that can affect the schedule at the start of a new school year. If your child moves up to a new school, such as junior high or high school, the school hours could be a little different from last year. Drop-off and pick-up times may change, and it is most helpful if parents can work together to be understanding of the child’s needs to coordinate these changes. As children get older, they may participate in more sports, clubs, or other after-school activities,  change their current involvement in after-school programs, …