There is no doubt that one of the most stressful and difficult events in a person’s life is going through a separation or divorce. Remember, there is a difference between separation and divorce. A divorce is ending a marriage formally. A separation is when two people are still legally married but live apart. Nevertheless, in any of these cases, one’s concerns seem endless.
This is where you need the services of a Concord family law attorney. At Waple & Houk PLLC, we are committed to helping our clients understand their legal rights. For this reason, we will advocate for you and ensure your rights are protected. We will guide you through the whole process, by offering legal advice, court representation, and negotiate with the other party on your behalf. We will be with you from the beginning to the end.
Allow us to handle all your family law needs in Concord, NC. Our family lawyers are ready to offer you the support you need. All you have to do is contact us, and we will answer any legal questions you may have. Call (704)954-8697 for a consultation.
What Qualifies As a Family Law Case?
Family law is generally a form of civil law, but one that revolves around issues pertaining to or concerning children, parents, and spouses. As such, it is a type of law that handles a wide variety of cases involving domestic matters. The common cases that are handle in a family court include:
This is commonly referred to as a divorce, and it is when one person (or both) wants to end their marriage. Marriages can be terminated through annulment or divorce cases. In this case, the court may still grant separations. To know more about separation, annulment, or divorce, contact our Concord family law attorneys.
Child Custody and Paternity
Whenever a man needs to be declared the rightful father of a child, the case will be filed in a family court. Unmarried parents have the legal right to ask the courts to order child support, visitation schedules, physical custody, and legal custody.
Domestic Violence Protection Order
If you are a victim of domestic violence, you can ask the family court to issue a protection order, which will help you keep the abuser away.
Anyone in the U.S. has the legal right to change their name legally. For this to be possible, one has to file the case at the family court.
Adoption and Termination of Parental Rights
If there are serious reasons why a parent should no longer have parental rights or relationship with a child, such as abuse, neglect, abandonment, then the family court may terminate that right. On the other hand, a person can legally adopt a child through the family court.
Guardianship is a process where a person takes on the responsibilities (financial, personal, medical, etc.) of another person (a child or adult who cannot care for themself).
Emancipation and Approval of Underage Marriage
Emancipation means being legally free from the control of parents for those under age. Therefore, those underage (18) and who wish to get married, or simply want to be emancipated can file a petition through a family court for approval.
The family courts oversee matters involving a minor who is accused of participating in illegal behavior. The family court can also approve permits for minors under the age of 14.
What Are the Grounds for Divorce in North Carolina?
It is important to note that North Carolina recognizes two types of divorce. Each type has its own grounds for divorce. These types of divorces are:
Whenever people talk about divorce, they are often referring to this type of divorce. Absolute divorce simply refers to a complete and final end of a marriage, which is accompanied by a family court order known as the Decree of Divorce. This is accompanied by other orders to address issues, like child support, child custody, alimony, marital property, and others.
In the state, there are only two grounds for absolute divorce, which are:
Incurable insanity: A family court may grant an absolute divorce if one spouse is suffering from incurable insanity and they have been separated for more than 3 years.
One-year separation: The court may also grant an absolute divorce if married couples have lived separately for more than 1 year.
Divorce From Bed and Board/Separation
The divorce from bed and board is not actually official but rather a court decree that married couples are legally separated. Under this type of divorce, both couples are not yet free to remarry. For them to remarry, they have to get an absolute divorce under North Carolina law.
This type of divorce comes with 5 general grounds, which are:
• Desertion (also known as turning out or abandonment)
• Barbarous or cruel treatment
• Drug abuse
How Do You Start the Divorce Process in Concord, NC?
When one spouse wants a divorce, the steps will involve:
Filing a Divorce Petition
The written petition is written by one spouse, which is then served on to the other partner.
The other partner/spouse can respond to the petition by either saying that they agree. Although this is not required.
This is often the final step of the process where both parties are required to disclose information regarding their assets, liabilities, expenses, and income.
How Does the Division of Property Work in North Carolina?
North Carolina is a community property state. What does this mean? Well, it simply means the family court judge will divide the properties according to the equitable distribution method. In other words, the court will divide the property in a way that is fair for both parties.
Before the court can divide properties, it must characterize/categorize them as separate, divisible, or marital. These are important distinctions because they will affect the way a property is going to be divided.
In North Carolina, separate property remains free from separation. It generally covers those properties one party gained before they were married. It can include properties that you gained during the marriage, but they were only intended for you alone. All this is covered under the state statute N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-20 (b)(2).
This is all the property earned or gained through the matrimony until the separation date. Retirement benefits, Pensions, and other deferred compensation rights are also considered marital property. This law is found in North Carolina statute N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-20 (b)(1).
The family court will use divisible property to catch any changes in the value of the marital property, which happens between the date of the separation and distribution. It covers any property or money that one or both partners got during the marriage but didn’t know until separation.
How Is Child Custody Decided?
When it comes to a child custody battle in court, the judge will consider or take several factors into account. All will be based on “the child’s best interest.” As such, this will cover many facts like the parents living arrangement, a parent’s ability to care for the child, the child’s relationship with the said parent, and any other factor that will affect the welfare of the child.
What Is Alimony and How Is It Decided?
Alimony can be defined as a legal requirement where one spouse pays the other for their support and maintenance. Alimony is payable either as a lump sum or on an agreed continuous basis. It is important to note that it is only paid to the spouse who is dependent on the supporting spouse. What does this mean? Well, it simply means that alimony is paid by the supporting spouse (one who was providing before) to the dependent spouse (one who depended on the provider before the marriage).
The general rule is that the spouse who makes less money is the dependent spouse. It simply means a spouse that depended on the other for regular support, even if they were working. The alimony amount differs greatly, and it will be paid in amount as the circumstance rendered necessary, which all will be considered based on different factors by the court.
Note: it does not matter if the alimony is agreed through court order or agreement is susceptible to tax for the recipient. On the other hand, the payor spouse will receive deductible tax.
Because every divorce case is different, the amount of alimony will differ as well. The judge will look at the following to determine the alimony:
• The amount each party may reasonably receive each month
• Reasonable expenses each party will incur
• The length of the marriage
• The health and age of the spouse
• The earning capacity of each
• The financial situation
• Economic and non-economic contributions
• Economic losses due to the marriage
• Other relevant factors deemed important
Reach Out to Our Concord Family Law Attorneys Today
Let us help protect your rights in a divorce case. We know that it can be a stressful time for you, and this is why you need someone with legal knowledge to guide you through the whole process. Our Concord family law attorneys at Waple & Houk PLLC have more than 20 years of experience.
Speak to us today at (704)954-8697, and we will answer any questions you may have, help you through the complex legal process, and offer the best legal advice based on your case.
Frequently Asked Questions for Our Concord, North Carolina Family Law Attorneys
Is There a Waiting Period to Get Divorced in North Carolina?
North Carolina requires spouses to be separated for one year before they can file for divorce. This means that both spouses must be living separately and apart for one year before they are eligible for a divorce.
After the One-Year Waiting Period, How Long Does It Take to Get Divorced in North Carolina?
The answer is, it depends. Your divorce is unique, and depending on the details that must be determined to finalize the agreement, your North Carolina divorce can take 30-60 days, or a year or more. The timing depends on whether you have a separation agreement in place that will translate into divorce terms, or if you have an uncontested or contested divorce. Talk to our Concord family law attorneys today to learn more about your legal rights and options to pursue the quickest route to divorce in North Carolina, based on your unique circumstances.
Are Separation Agreements Required to Get Divorced in North Carolina?
Separation agreements are not required to be legally separated from your spouse in North Carolina. However, a separation agreement can resolve many of a couple’s legal issues during the one-year waiting period. Separation agreements can include details regarding property division, child custody, child support, and alimony. If both spouses agree, the details outlined in the separation agreement can transfer to the divorce agreement, which makes for a speedier end to the couple’s family law case.
Which Parent Pays Child Support After a North Carolina Divorce?
Child support decisions can be outlined by divorcing parents in private, during mediation, or at trial – where a judge will dictate the child support terms. To start, child support amounts are based on child custody decisions. Simply put, typically the parent who has primary custody of the children will receive child support from the parent who receives visitation rights. If the parents cannot decide on a fair child support amount, a judge will decide the amount based on the North Carolina child support calculator, and any other details pertinent to the children’s upbringing.
Is Family Law Mediation Required in North Carolina?
North Carolina Divorce Law requires both spouses to participate in mediation when they cannot agree on child custody or equitable distribution details.
Can North Carolina Family Law Decisions Be Made During Mediation Instead of Trial?
Yes. In fact, the courts prefer couples to sort out the sticking points of their divorce during mediation. This is especially true for child custody and equitable distribution disputes, as the North Carolina family courts will not hear the case until the couple has tried to resolve their issues during mediation.
Is One Spouse Guaranteed Alimony After a North Carolina Divorce?
No. Although North Carolina is an alimony state, one spouse is not guaranteed spousal support simply because they are getting divorced. If couples cannot agree to an alimony award, and amount, the courts will hear arguments for and against from both sides.