Are you considering separating from your husband or wife and not sure whether you should move out of the house? There are several things to consider in deciding on whether you should move out of the house prior to a written agreement with your spouse. Do you have children? Are you financially able to afford another place to live? Might you have alimony obligation to your spouse? Did you get a house prior to your marriage? These are just a few of the questions you want answer before your move. Call one of the attorneys at Law Firm Carolinas in our … Continue reading
Category Archives: Family Law
New Charlotte Address & Firm News
We’re excited to announce our new, larger Charlotte office! Note our new Charlotte address: 1927 South Tryon St., Suite 100, Charlotte, NC 28203. The Charlotte phone number at 704-970-1593 remains the same. This has been a busy and exciting year for our firm, so here are some updates and recent recognitions: We look forward to an exciting and busy 2018!
THE COURT OF APPEALS GOT IT WRONG – AGAIN!
The North Carolina Court of Appeals has struggled with its interpretation of the divisible property statute since its enactment in 1995. This statute, codified at G.S. Section 50-20(b)(4), provides for the division of certain assets and debts that were acquired after the date of separation. The first issue they have incorrectly decided on a number of occasions was the implementation of Section 50-20(b)(4)(d) which currently provides that “divisible property” includes “all passive increases and passive decreases in marital debt and financing charges and interest related to marital debt.” The error the Court of Appeals repeatedly made was to distribute assets … Continue reading
Grandparent Custody… When your child is unable to care for their child.
In North Carolina, biological parents maintain superior rights to custody of their children which is a fundamental right protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. However, there may be circumstances that exists in which a parent loses those superior rights and a grandparent is able to intervene and request custody of their grandchild. Before a grandparent can be considered as a custodian for their grandchild, the grandparent must be granted standing by the Court to pursue custody. In order to be granted standing to pursue custody, the grandparent must show by clear, cogent and convincing evidence that the … Continue reading
Best Lawyers Recognition
Two attorneys at Law Firm Carolinas have been named to the 2018 edition of U.S. News – Best Lawyers. Best Lawyers recognition is based on peer reviews and client recommendations. Barbara Morgenstern been recognized by Best Lawyers in the practice of Family Law as well as Family Law Mediation. Barbara has also been named a “Legal Elite” by Business North Carolina magazine and a North Carolina Super Lawyer for Family Law. She is a Certified Specialist in family law by the NC State Bar, a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, Past President of the NC Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, … Continue reading
WE ARE GETTING A DIVORCE – HOW DO I GET MY FAIR SHARE OF MY SPOUSE’S RETIREMENT BENEFITS?
One of the largest assets in many marriages is the retirement plan of the spouse who was employed outside of the home during the marriage. Each spouse is presumptively entitled to one-half the net marital estate under North Carolina equitable distribution law, which typically involves distributing a portion of the retirement plan to the non-employee spouse. Retirement plans are divided by a court order which instructs the Plan Administrator to transfer a portion of the retirement plan to the non-employee spouse. An order is required because the retirement plan is listed under the social security number of the employee spouse, … Continue reading
The Effect of Reconciliation on Claims Arising From First Marriage
Our North Carolina family law specialist, Ashley D. Bennington, represented a husband in an appeal before the North Carolina Court of Appeals where the question was whether the wife could refile her claims for equitable distribution and alimony arising from the first marriage of the parties. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision and ruled in favor of our client determining that the wife’s claims were time barred. A copy of the opinion of the Court of Appeals can be found here: https://appellate.nccourts.org/opinions/?c=2&pdf=35539. In the instant case, the parties were separated and divorced in the years 2005 and … Continue reading
TEN COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT FAMILY LAW
After practicing family law for 31 years, I have noticed that many of my clients have common misconceptions about family law. Some of the most frequent questions the family lawyers at Law Firm Carolinasreceive are: If my wife and I are sleeping in separate bedrooms, does that count for the one-year separation required for absolute divorce? Parties must be physically separated and have separate addresses to count as “separation” for purposes of the one-year requirement for absolute divorce. Does my wife have to account for how my child support payments are used? Child support is supposed to cover … Continue reading
Grandparent Rights? Requesting Visitation with Your Grandchild
People often call our offices at Law Firm Carolinasasking about grandparent rights. In North Carolina, grandparents do not have unlimited access to their grandchildren and there is no formal acknowledgement of grandparent rights. For instance, if the mother and father of your grandchild are married and decide at some point that they do not want you or certain other grandparents to spend time with or otherwise have access to a child, the grandparents are left with limited legal options to seek access to their grandchild. Absent a showing of unfitness or acts inconsistent with a parent’s constitutionally protected status where … Continue reading
Creating a Contract: Help Me, Help You; Part 1: Who is the Seller? Are They Married?
We have the great privilege of working on real estate transfers in every step of the process, but we usually begin our residential closing work with the receipt of a purchase contract. We find there are good contracts out there and some, well, not so good contracts. So what separates the good from the bad? A good contract is complete and accurate. In the light most favorable, a bad contract has the essential information but leaves Realtors, Brokers, and attorneys trying to fill in the blanks. This can cause frustration and delays to all of the parties involved. I find … Continue reading
Legally, Do I Need Something in Writing To Be Separated From My Spouse?
This is probably one of the most frequent questions we as family law attorneys at Law Firm Carolinashear when meeting with clients in our initial consultation. Movies and television shows have led viewers to believe that before you are separated from your spouse, you must have an agreement in place or some other document signed by both spouses declaring that you are separated. While this may be the case in some states, in North Carolina no document or other writing is required in order for spouses to be considered separated. Spouses are considered separated under North Carolina law when the … Continue reading
When Does My North Carolina Child Support Obligation End?
Each parent has a duty to support their minor children. As most of us know, when the parents no longer live together the parent that has the child most of the time has the right to request child support from the other parent. An Order for child support is often entered by the Court requiring that one parent pay the other parent a monthly amount for support of the child or children. So, the question is then raised: When does my obligation to pay child support in North Carolina end? North Carolina General Statute Section 50-13.4 states that the Order terminates automatically when … Continue reading
The Top 10 Reasons to Arbitrate Your Family Law Case
I am stealing one of David Letterman’s acts to tell you why you might want to arbitrate your family law case. North Carolina is behind the rest of the country in many areas of the law but not in the area of family law arbitration. In fact, we were the first state to enact the Family Law Arbitration Act (FLAA), G.S. §§ 50-41 et seq., largely due to the efforts of Raleigh attorney, Lynn Burleson, and Wake Forest University Law Professor George Walker. Other states have subsequently adopted our statutes. What is arbitration? Arbitration is a proceeding where a private … Continue reading
The Doctrine of Necessaries – The True Meaning of “In Sickness and in Health”
On your wedding day, you and your spouse promised to care for each other “in sickness and in health.” Like most newlyweds, you probably didn’t truly understand what those words would mean. North Carolina recognizes the Doctrine of Necessaries, which provides that a spouse is liable for the other’s necessary expenses incurred during their marriage. This legal responsibility exists even when the spouse did not sign as a guarantor or request that their spouse receive the services. What constitutes a “necessary”? A “necessary” is something which is essential to one spouse’s health and comfort. Most often, this doctrine is applied … Continue reading
HE/SHE JUST WON’T LEAVE…what to do if the marriage is broken and you have children?
Many times when I have met with clients in Greensboro or Charlotte the first question that is asked is “How do I get my Husband or Wife to leave the home because I need to stay there for the children?” Absent proof of “domestic violence,” what can be done? If the home is owned by both or really even just one of the parties, getting the separation to occur often times is very difficult especially if the “other” party does not want the separation or even if he or she is willing to end the marriage they simply don’t want … Continue reading
Congratulations to Our 4 State Bar Certified Family Law Specialists
Yesterday I congratulated Steve Black for receiving his Board Certification as a Legal Specialist in Real Property Law – Residential Transactions. We have also been informed by the North Carolina State Bar that three of our attorneys, Keith Black, Carole Albright, and Ashley Bennington have been named Board Certified Specialists in Family Law. “Family law” broadly includes divorce litigation; child custody, visitation and child support; equitable distribution; separation agreements; post-separation support and alimony; and family law mediation and arbitration. The NC State Bar began certifying lawyers as legal specialists in 1987. The requirements for legal specialization include being substantially involved in the practice area for at least 5 … Continue reading
I think I made a mistake getting married …Getting an Annulment in North Carolina
Unfortunately there are times following a marriage that parties realize that their marriage is not going to work. When this happens within a relatively short time following the marriage, we are often asked by clients, “Can’t I just get an annulment?” In North Carolina, annulments are only granted based on limited circumstances set forth by statute. Those circumstances include: · When the parties are first cousins or closer in relation; · When one of the parties was under the age of 16 at the time of the marriage, unless there is a court order in place, the female party is … Continue reading
BRANDED WITH THE “SCARLET A”: What effect does Adultery have on your Equitable Distribution Claim?
Your spouse has confronted you with evidence that confirms that you have been having an affair. Does this mean that she/he gets everything from the marriage…all your hard earned dollars, your home and other property? Does it mean that you will have to start over from scratch? The simple answer is NO. Adultery, whether you are the adulterer or the wronged spouse, is not a factor set out by law as having any effect or relevance to equitable distribution of the property that you have acquired during the marriage. North Carolina General Statute 50-20 and following establishes what property is … Continue reading
Facebook Is Not Your Friend in Family Law Cases
If you are involved in any matter which may potentially be litigated, including divorce, it is the best practice not to post anything on social media. If you are separating from your spouse, keep in mind that nearly everything you post, tweet, Instagram, email and text is public and fair game in litigation. Your communications, location, relationships, purchases, and more can be easily uncovered through use of your computer or cell phone and it is highly unlikely that any information gained through social media will be protected from discovery in litigation. Further, just because you “delete” a post, text, etc., … Continue reading
Attorney’s Fees: Hourly Rate, Flat Fee, or Contingency Fee in Family Law Cases
There are primarily three ways attorneys charge clients for legal services: hourly rates, contingency fees and flat fees. So what should you expect regarding attorneys fees if you have a family law issue? With most family law issues, attorneys bill by the hour. This is because it is difficult to estimate how long each case will take. Hourly rates vary depending upon the experience of the attorney, the average hourly rate in the area in which you live and the complexity of the case and our attorneys endeavor to ensure that clients are charged a fair fee. Generally, most attorneys … Continue reading