You’ve decided to seek a divorce and perhaps to seek child support for your children, or you’re looking at equitable distribution of your marital assets. You’ve researched, met with, and retained your attorney. Now the attorney or a member of the attorney’s staff is calling or sending emails asking questions and seeking what seems like an endless list of documents. You hired this attorney to represent you; why are they putting so much work on you and asking for all this information? Continue reading →
In the past, married couples had to show that their spouse committed marital misconduct to get a divorce. In a no-fault state like North Carolina, neither party must show any reason for the request for divorce nor show that the other spouse was at fault.
N.C General Statute § 50-6 states that a marriage may be terminated upon application by either party after the parties have lived separate and apart for one year, and either party has been a
North Carolina resident for at least six months preceding the action for divorce. Continue reading →
Potential clients often seek an attorney’s help for what they call a “simple divorce.” The circumstances may seem simple because the only claim the potential client wishes to make is one for absolute divorce, thereby choosing to forgo claims for equitable distribution, post-separation support, and alimony. Sounds simple enough, right? Think again. The grounds for divorce under North Carolina statutes are: (1) that the parties must have lived separately and apart for one year with no intention of resuming the marital relationship; and (2) that one party or the other has resided in North Carolina for six months prior to the filing of the action. While these two grounds are not difficult to meet, a lot can happen in the year the parties are living separately and apart and, as a result, the entire trajectory of the action can change. Continue reading →
Devine v. Devine, (No. COA19-913) (unpublished)
Here in Greensboro, business owners are not immune to unhappy marriages. Divorces can be long and complicated messes, especially when the fortunes of the family rest upon the fortunes of the business. Child support and alimony are based partly on the income and expenses of the parties going through divorce. In the case below, we discuss how one court, which presumably lacked business experience, incorrectly calculated a party’s income. Continue reading →
Attorneys in the Piedmont Triad are seeing an increase in calls about separation and divorce. This increase may be a result of families forced to spend more time together or of instability due to one spouse or the other losing their employment from the COVID lockdowns. Continue reading →
All too often in the divorce process, couples become so focused on dividing marital assets, locating funds, and getting back at the spouse that has wronged them that their focus on the most critical part of their marriage gets overlooked. Children, the one part of the couple’s marriage that should be the central focus, get lost. Most people have heard that children are resilient, they bounce back quickly, and they adapt to change well. While all of those can be true, nothing in the equation of divorce is the fault of a child, and parents should remember that children have feelings too. Continue reading →
School starts soon, and parents in the Piedmont Triad area are understandably worried about their children’s exposure to COVID-19. Do I send my child back to the classroom, home school them, or opt for online classes? Fears over the lack of social distancing, schools enforcing mask policies of older students, and not requiring mask wearing for younger children are just a few of the concerns. Many parents’ fears, when faced with the threat of exposure and further spread of COVID, are only made worse when the parents are no longer together and cannot agree on how to address the situation. If you find yourself dealing with whether your children should return to school, with or without a court-ordered custody order in place, an experienced family law attorney can assist you. Continue reading →
Searcy v. Searcy, No. COA11-11 (N.C. Ct. App. 2011)
In North Carolina, settlement and distribution of marital property can be addressed in a separation agreement. Such an agreement is essentially a contract between the parties. A unique term, “fiduciary,” is sometimes used to describe a relationship between spouses that can be distilled to mean trust. As in contract law, there must be full and truthful disclosure of facts surrounding terms and provisions in a contract between parties who are fiduciaries to each other. Failing to disclose a certain fact can render the contract invalid. But in divorce proceedings, when does the fiduciary relationship end? In the case below, we see that there is no bright line. Continue reading →
The rules of Jenga are simple. First, you stack the 54 wooden blocks to create a tower; then, you slowly begin removing blocks from the tower and move them to the top of the tower. The player who removes a block from the tower, causing it to topple over, loses the game. Practicing family law is akin to playing a game of Jenga. In Jenga, the tower structure continually evolves throughout the game. Sure, there may be a gap in the tower here and there as blocks are removed, but the game’s primary goal is despite the gaps, the players work to keep the tower intact. Quite often in family law the established nuclear familial unit is changing. Gaps become evident with a separation or divorce as one household evolves into two. Despite these changes, family law attorneys strive to counsel clients to embrace the gaps and work to create a new normal in the children’s best interests without ultimately toppling over. Yet, just as in Jenga, sometimes toppling over is inevitable. Luckily, many resources are available for clients who find themselves in need of rebuilding their tower. Continue reading →
Mejia v. Mejia, No.COA19-438 (May 2020).
In North Carolina, we typically see two types of agreements in the realm of marriage and divorce. First is the Prenuptial Agreement; the second is the Separation Agreement. Separation agreements often contain provisions that resolve issues of child support, alimony, child custody, and distribution of marital property. At times, one party may be strong-armed into signing an agreement. In that case, the party may claim Duress. Below, we discuss a case in which a Husband claimed Duress to prevent enforcement of a Separation Agreement. Continue reading →