Charlotte Family Law
Absolute Divorce - Child Support
Custody and Visitation - Separation Agreement
“Absolute” Divorce in North Carolina
Charlotte family law includes absolute divorce. Give us a call if you have other questions on absolute divorce.
What if my estranged spouse and I agree on everything?
What if only one spouse is “at fault” for the disintegration of the marriage?
What if I don’t want to get divorced?
Not all divorce situations are high conflict. Estranged spouses often can resolve their differences without the need to file a lawsuit. And even when a lawsuit is filed, the door to an amicable resolution can remain open. Sometimes an amicable Separation Agreement, which includes property division and parenting arrangements, can resolve outstanding conflicts. But even when an agreement is reached, an Absolute Divorce filing is still required to accomplish a legal divorce between a husband and wife.
A marriage can only be legally dissolved through a court order, but does that mean that a long, expensive court battle must ensue? Not at all.
North Carolina family law allows a marriage to be dissolved through an Absolute Divorce if:
1) the parties have lived separate and apart (in different residences) for a period of at least one (1) year, and
2) One or both parties have lived in the State of North Carolina for at least six (6) months.
My clients often express their concerns about the financial cost of the required physical separation. After all, the same family financial resources that have supported one household must suddenly be applied to support two separate households. No matter what your income level, this is never an easy scenario. I understand the concern and anxiety that a separation and divorce can create, and I am dedicated to helping my clients navigate through the process with care, respect and professionalism.
“Fault” is not relevant to whether or not you can petition the Court for an Absolute Divorce. North Carolina is a “no fault” jurisdiction.
Either spouse can petition the Court for a divorce, with or without the permission of the other spouse.
Charlotte family law includes child support.
How is a person’s child support obligation determined in North Carolina?
What if the other parent makes much more or much less money than I do?
If I have joint custody, might I still have to pay child support?
What if the other parent is voluntarily unemployed and refuses to pay child support?
The Court typically applies the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines (www.nccourts.org/Forms/FormSearch.asp) to determine a person’s child support obligation to his or her minor child. The Guidelines account for the reasonable needs of the minor child in determining the monthly child support amount that will be paid. The goal of the Guidelines is to fairly consider both the parents’ financial responsibility and the minor child’s reasonable needs.
The Guidelines consider both parents’ incomes in finding the proper amount of child support. The amount of support is not necessarily apportioned equally. Whether you or the other parent is the higher income earner, both of your incomes, no matter how low or how high, are considered in the determination of the child support amount. The Court can deviate from the Guidelines, or not apply the Guidelines, under certain circumstances if doing so is necessary to meet the financial needs of the minor child.
The Guidelines account for the amount of time that each parent spends with the minor child. Accordingly, the Guidelines consider whether the parents have primary custody, joint custody, or split custody of the minor child or children.
If a parent who has joint custody makes a higher income than the other parent, the higher income earning-parent may still be required to pay for child support. Other factors, such as who pays for work-related child care expenses, medical insurance for the minor child, and if there are extraordinary expenses related to the minor child.
In North Carolina, both parents have a duty to support their minor child. When a parent is not meeting that duty, the Court may decide to impute income to that parent, or to assign an income amount to the non-paying parent based on what that parent should be earning. Imputation of income is only appropriate when it can be proven that the non-paying parent is using bad faith in an effort to avoid his or her child support obligation.
Custody and Visitation with Minor Children
Child custody and visitation are both parts of Charlotte family law. Give us a call if the items below don't answer your questions.
What is legal custody vs. physical custody?
What must I “prove” to get full custody of my child?
What if the other parent is not allowing me to see my child?
Does a parent’s gender decide if he or she will get custody?
Can a custody Court Order be changed after it is entered?
When your family is experiencing a separation and divorce, one of the first concerns that my clients have is, “What happens with my children?” The key is to first understand the difference between “legal custody” and “physical custody,” “sole custody,” “primary custody,” “joint custody” and “visitation.”
Generally, “legal custody” refers to the person who is the decision-maker for the minor child, including issues related to his or her health, education, and general welfare. The person who has “physical custody” refers to the person with whom the child lives with day-to-day. “Sole custody” or “primary custody” is used to describe an arrangement where the minor child lives with one person for a significant period of time, as opposed to “joint custody.” The person that has “visitation” has a lesser degree of custody, typically spending time with the minor child for a certain period of time.
The legal standard that the Court uses when making decisions about who will get custody of the minor child is to weigh what is in the “best interest” of the child. The Court has broad discretion in considering which factors it will consider in making this determination.
If one parent keeps the minor child from the other parent, there are legal proceedings that can be initiated in North Carolina which allow the Court to consider who will have custody.
A person’s gender is not a relevant factor in custody determinations.
Child custody is always subject to review by the Court, even if a “permanent” Order has been entered.
Separation Agreement vs. Court Order
What is the difference between a Separation Agreement and a Court Order?
What are the benefits of entering into a Separation Agreement vs. obtaining a Court Order?
What are the benefits of obtaining a Court Order vs. entering into a Separation Agreement?
A Separation and Property Settlement Agreement (“Agreement”) allows you and your estranged spouse to settle marital issues (including attorney fees) privately and with the guidance of an attorney of your choice. An Agreement can resolve all issues related to your separation and divorce and it is fully recognized in North Carolina as a binding contract between the spouses.
The Agreement must be in writing and must be signed by both spouses in front of a certifying officer in order to be enforceable. North Carolina recognizes such agreements as fully enforceable under the law as long as the terms therein are consistent with public policy.
Perhaps the most profound benefit of entering into an Agreement is that doing so allows the parties to retain power in the decisions that will affect them and/or their children for years to come. Essentially, when parties go to Court and ask a judge to make a decision in their case, they are placing those decisions with a stranger who has only a few hours (and sometimes less) of experience with the matter before him or her. And because an Agreement can typically be executed more expeditiously and efficiently than engaging in litigation, an Agreement is typically cheaper than going to Court.
A Court Order (even when it is a Consent Order that both parties agree to) is signed by a judge and therefore is subject to the contempt powers of the Court. This can have a significant bearing for enforcement purposes.
When you need a Charlotte separation agreement, give us a call.
Disclaimer: The information provided is not legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is or should be formed by use of this site.