Going through a separation or divorce is undoubtedly the most stressful life event for most families. While the two – separation and divorce – share a primary outcome of spouses parting ways, they are distinctively different. Separation is an arrangement where to couples live apart while there are legally married. A divorce is a legal dissolution of the marriage. In most cases, however, the two couples will have some concerns about the family’s future, especially if there are kids.
It is a process that is best handled with the help of an experienced Lincoln County family law attorney that understands your rights and strives to protect your interests. At Waple & Houk PLLC, we are attorneys who dedicate their legal expertise to helping our clients, guiding them through the divorce process with the primary objective of ensuring they reach an amicable arrangement that best suits the family. We do this because we appreciate the role the family plays in shaping society.
Call our law offices near Lincoln County, North Carolina, at (704)954-8697 to find a reputable family law attorney to help you handle the divorce process. Our Lincoln County family lawyer will take you through all you should know, providing you unrivaled legal counsel, guidance, and representation.
What Qualifies as a Family Law Case?
While family law is considered to be under civil law, it focuses on matters related to spouses, children, and parenting. That means it aims at handling cases revolving around domestic issues, with the most common being:
Dissolution of a marriage, known as a divorce, is when spouses (or one partner) decide to end their marriage. The termination can be handled via a divorce or annulment process where the court could grant a separation before settling the divorce.
Child Custody, Child Support, and Paternity
Child custody, child support can be some of the most contentious issues in divorce cases and may severely impact the whole family, particularly the children. At Waple & Houk, we always strive to find the best resolution regarding all these matters that’s in the best interests of the children.
Whenever a man needs to be declared the rightful father of a child, the case will be filed in a family court.
Domestic Violence Protection
If a client comes to us seeking help as a domestic violence victim, our experienced Lincoln County family law attorney can request the courts for a protection order that bars the abuser from contacting or interacting with our client.
Adoption and Termination Of Parental Rights
If a parent is considered unfit to be a caregiver because of child abuse, abandonment, or neglect, we can request the family court to consider terminating their parental rights. Our law professions can also handle matters related to child adoption.
Legal Name Changes
Individuals in the United States that wish to change their name legally can do so by filing the matter at a family law court. This is a matter that our attorney can help with, especially for clients that feel their lives and children are in danger.
Suppose parents are unable or deemed unfit to be their child’s caregiver (providing health, financial, emotional, and developmental support). In that case, the court might appoint someone else to be the child’s legal guardian. The court may also appoint a guardian for an elderly person with Alzheimer’s disease or similar conditions who can no longer care for themself.
Emancipation and Approval of Underage Marriage
An underage person can seek to be legally free from the parent’s control (emancipation) by filing a petition in a family court. At Waple & Houk PLLC, we have experts in family law that can help with such cases. The same applies to teenagers that seek approval for underage marriage.
The family court handles cases involving minors accused of engaging in unlawful acts and can approve permits for children below 14 years.
What Are the Grounds for Divorce in North Carolina?
Individuals in North Carolina can file for a divorce on one or more legally recognized reasons that your Lincoln County family lawyer will help you understand. They are the issues that seek the grounds for a divorce, and they include insanity, living separately for over a year, child abandonment, drug abuse, domestic violence, adultery, or imprisonment.
How Do You Start the Divorce Process?
As mentioned earlier, we are familiar with how complicated and challenging a divorce process can get. Things can turn messy, especially when the couples are fighting over child custody. However, we also know the steps that individuals should take when they wish to end their marriage. Your attorney will help you cover the following:
- Filing a written divorce petition issued by a spouse to be served to the other.
- The marriage partner responds to the petition, agreeing or contesting the divorce petition based on different reasons.
- Oversee the divorce case, helping the couple disclose their family’s assets, income, liabilities, and expenses.
How Does the Division of Property Work in North Carolina?
As a community property state, North Carolina laws direct that property division be done equitably, giving the judge the powers to determine why one partner qualifies to get more than the other. As such, the family court ensures that the property is divided fairly to benefit both parties based on prevailing circumstances. The family court and lawyers handling the divorce for both parties must categorize the family assets, income, liabilities, and expenses as marital, separate, or divisible.
Under North Carolina state laws, Gen. Stat. § 50-20 (b)(1), marital property is what spouses acquired through the marriage, from the day of their union to when they filed for separation or divorce. The family court can consider pensions and retirement benefits as marital property.
Under North Carolina laws, Gen. Stat. § 50-20 (b)(2), separate property is any family belongings that will be unaffected by the spouse’s separation. In most cases, these will be things one of the couples acquired before getting married. However, separate property can also be things acquired during the marriage but not co-owned or family-owned.
According to North Carolina state laws, the family court can use divisible property to identify changes in the marital property’s value during the time of separation and property distribution. It can include money and other belongings the couple acquired during their marriage but come to know about during the divorce or separation.
How Is Child Custody Decided?
Fight for the right to be your child’s primary caregiver is never something any parent wishes to experience in life. However, spousal disagreements about caring for each other and the family can leave couples on divergent paths. However, the court will step in to help determine which parent qualifies for custody based on the child’s best interest.
The court will consider the parents’ income, responsibleness, living arrangement, how the child relates with the parent if the parent is in another relationship, and other factors related to the child’s welfare.
What Is Alimony and How Is It Decided?
According to the law, alimony is financial support deemed a legal requirement that one spouse is ordered to pay the other for their upkeep. In most cases, it is payable as an agreed continuous arrangement, but it also can be issued as a lump sum, depending on the court’s determination. Alimony is paid to the dependent spouse, meaning the money will be used to support one spouse’s needs who did not have an income and relied on the other for basic needs.
Social norms seem to be at play, dictating who should get the alimony and why. Generally, the spouse with a lesser income or non (considered the dependent spouse) qualifies to request alimony. The court will consider or grant the alimony even if the dependent spouse is working.
However, the alimony amount can differ from case to case, based on the circumstances or factors your Lincoln County family law attorney presents the court. It is best to note that the alimony, whether reached via an agreement or a court order, is subject to tax, and the alimony payor receives deductible tax.
The circumstance surrounding every divorce case will differ, subsequently, the alimony. Considering the primary earner, the family’s income will be one of the prevalent issues the family law court will consider when ordering one spouse to pay alimony to the other. The things that will influence the judge to issue such an order include:
- The amount each person might get monthly and their respective expenses.
- How long the couple has been married
- Each person’s age and health status
- The couple’s earning capacity, collectively and individually
- The family’s financial situation, factoring in expenses and liabilities
- Economic and non-economic contributions, including losses, linked to the marital union
- Other relevant factors deemed significant to determining the alimony amount
Hire a Seasoned Lincoln Country Family Law Attorney
Going through separation or divorce can be challenging, especially with kids in the picture. However, you can make things a bit more bearable if you consider working with an accomplished and reputable family lawyer who will advise and guide you through the process.
At Waple & Houk PLLC, we are a law firm that has practiced family law for years and have professionals that understand the different issues that will help ensure you get a fair outcome from the divorce process. Let us help you navigate the complex legal hurdles to secure your rights and interests.
Call our law offices today at (704)954-8697 to speak to a Lincoln Country family law attorney and learn how we can help.