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 →
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 →
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 →
With many North Carolina families forced to spend more time together as a result of lockdowns or unemployment from COVID-19, some couples are finding they no longer want to be married. Spouses are experiencing fear of being exposed to COVID, fighting over finances, and many other minor issues. If you find yourself in this situation, one of the first steps in the divorce process is to legally separate from your spouse. If you are not sure of how to become legally separated, seek the advice of a family law attorney. Continue reading →
Best v. Staton, (unpublished).
Equitable Distribution is one of the mechanisms by which former spouses separate their personal and real property. It requires the right timing and, since not all property can be easily split, the right kind of appraisal. Real property is especially valuable, and sometimes difficult to assess. In the case below, we discuss why you should consult an expert in Equitable Distribution. Continue reading →
I have a cousin, Bernie, who lives in another North Carolina city. She is mid-30s, professionally employed and has two school-aged sons who are involved in numerous sports, school and community activities. My cousin spends the majority of her free time working with and for her kids. Continue reading →
We have a small family business. I do all the work with customers; my ex-wife does the bookkeeping. We both own the company as shareholders. We now are now separated. What protections do I need to put in place? She writes checks that are not for business expenses out of the business account.
My wife and I have been married 20 years. Our child is graduating from high school this year, and we are miserable. We own a home with lots of debt and we cannot afford to separate without selling our home first. We both work, but there simply is not enough money to maintain two households without first selling the house. Is there any way we can declare ourselves separated and maintain the same household until the house sells? Why is the North Carolina waiting period for divorce a year? I hear that one year is a long time as compared to other states. Can we settle our property now? We have retirement, cars and furniture, along with the house?
Kelley v. Kelley, T.C. Memo. 2017-798, 2017 WL 1251018
Facts: Husband and wife were married in 1982. They later entered into a Separation and Property Settlement Agreement upon their separation in 1994 (the “1994 agreement”). The two later divorced in 1999. The 1994 agreement resolved several issues between the two such as child support, alimony, and equitable distribution, but most importantly, the agreement contained a “Modification and Waiver” clause. In 2003, approximately nine years after the parties separated and four years after their divorce, the parties allegedly signed a document titled, “Amendment to Settlement Agreement.” Continue reading →