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During a family law matter, tensions tend to run high, which may result in seemingly straightforward, common legal issues to become complicated very quickly. Our attorneys are here to help if you have questions about:
Who gets to stay in the house? Am I going to lose the car I drive? Am I going to have to buy my ex-spouse a new car? Who are the kids going to live with? Am I going to be responsible for my ex-spouse’s debt? What is going to happen to the debt we have together? Am I going to get financial support during our separation and after we divorce? Can I file for divorce on my own, or should I hire a lawyer? How much is child support? Who gets the kids?
Powers Law Firm PA is a litigation law firm. We are courtroom lawyers. We enjoy the thrill of the courtroom, competition, and have an overwhelming desire to help people through difficult times.
Frankly, while “family law” is a common Google search, the truth is, even within the practice group, divorce lawyers in the Charlotte area tend to focus on certain areas or aspects of the very broad category of “family law.”
It’s an incredibly complex area of legal representation and may involve issues relating to separation and divorce, child custody, and equitable distribution.
At the same time, “family law” may also include things like grandparents’ rights legal issues, child support enforcement, contempt of court, and even domestic violence legal issues, protective orders and 50B restraining order issues.Divorce
This may come as a surprise to you, but it’s not unusual if you’re not certain whether you want to get divorced or not. Clearly, it’s a big decision.
Things at home might not be great. Indeed, it may be just downright awful.
And yet, the thought of getting divorced may be just that: a thought. That’s OK. It’s entirely normal.
If you have questions about your legal options, it makes sense to sit down with a divorce attorney in the Charlotte area.
Sound legal advice can make a tough situation more manageable. Sometimes the anxiety associated with the topic comes from not knowing what to do or what to expect.
You may be wondering whether you need to formally retain an attorney. While we want to help, we think the better first step to start with a legal consultation.
You don’t need to “retain” us to sit down, talk, and ask questions.
We charge only a consultation fee and everything you tell us is strictly confidential. We keep secrets, including the fact that you are even considering ending your marriage and met with an attorney.
Good decisions, especially about things that can be life-changing, are often predicated on possessing good information and legal advice.
We’re here to help you in your time of need.Legal Separation
Any meaningful conversation about what’s required to get divorced in North Carolina necessarily involves the question, “How long have you been separated?”
In part, that’s because of the level of importance legal separation plays under the family laws of our state.
Generally speaking, except for some very unusual, extreme circumstances, a married couple must be separated for 1 year before a divorce may be granted.
Separation is what divorce attorneys in the Charlotte area refer to as a term of art. It has a specific, legal meaning and is an often overlooked, but very important aspect of the process.
Married couples cannot stipulate to waive the period of separation. You must reside, separate and apart from one-another, with the intent to remain permanently separated.Alimony
One of the more hotly disputed legal issues when spouses part ways is the payment of spousal support or what family law attorneys call alimony. It’s important not to confuse that with PSS Post Separation Support, which in the past was referred to as temporary alimony.
Calculating spousal support requires careful review of a series of factors including the customary standard of living during the period of marriage, the unique, individual needs of the respective spouses, marital misconduct (infidelity or “cheating”), and the ability or inability to support oneself.Child Custody
Alimony in NC, given potentially substantial financial implications, is regularly an area of dispute. Occasionally and unfortunately, it proves to be an acrimonious, contentious source for litigation.
As you might imagine, child custody can evoke incredibly strong emotions, resentment, and overwhelming protective instincts. Some people may give up arguing over money. Few parents will concede custody or visitation with their kids without a fight.
That’s perfectly understandable.
Kids grow up fast. Time spent away from a father or mother can have long-term, if not life-long consequences.
Frankly, it’s imperative for all involved to consider what our courts deem the Polar Star when it comes to child custody issues: The Best Interests of the children cannot be overstated.Child Support
The care and nurturing of children, considering primarily their well-being, is rarely problematic. If you are a parent, you are legally responsible for the care and support of your children.
In fact, in large measure, calculating child support is formulaic.
The North Carolina Child Support Guidelines (in the respective Schedules) establish the amount of child support based on income of the respective parents and the number of children at issue.
Obviously, the custody of children (physical custody / legal custody) may affect the nature, duration, and extent of the child support.Collaborative Divorce
Working together or collaborating to resolve disputes is generally a good idea. Of course, that assumes the parties can work together for the greater good and set hard feelings aside.
Even in the best of circumstances, that can be tremendously difficult if not possible. Nowadays, Collaborative Law applies to more than actions for divorce, child custody, and alimony.
It frankly requires a fundamental shift in thinking and perspective. While collaborative divorce is gaining in popularity, as it can be a less costly manner of effectuating an end to a marriage, it also is not perfect. The divorce attorneys at our Charlotte firm are familiar with its advantages and disadvantages.
Indeed, it can end up being tremendously ineffective, inefficient, and expensive in the event of an impasse.Equitable Distribution or “ED”
The etymology of the word “equity” comes from the Latin word “aequus,” meaning equal. Under the NC family laws, at least as it pertains to ED, equitable does not necessarily mean equal.
Equitable, as applied in Family Court, is intended to ensure fairness. The Courts try to “do what’s right,” considering a host of competing interests. It can be incredibly complicated and at times a difficult decision.
If ED is disputed, the Courts are charged with duty to make Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law. Part of that includes the classification of the different types of property: Marital, Separate, or Divisible.
Equitable Distribution applies only to the marital estate. Assets accrued during and as part of the marriage would normally be deemed part of the marital estate.
Separate property, that is, things owned individually by one of the spouses, which may be either personal property or real property (real estate), is not subject to Equitable Distribution.
Marital and Divisible Property are subject to Equitable Distribution in North Carolina. Therefore, the Classification process is often incredibly important.Arbitration
Traditional forms of alternative dispute resolution involve both arbitration and mediation. Divorce attorneys in the Charlotte area may prefer to “arbitrate” a family law matter, especially those involving complex marital estates, business valuations, and equitable distribution claims.
It is a method of litigation that offers finality, with a less formalized trial process. Certain prenuptial agreements may contractually mandate binding arbitration as a way to limit the costs of traditional litigation.Mediation
Mediation is another form of ADR or Alternative Dispute Resolution. It may save the parties the substantial expense of courtroom litigation.
Mediation, relating to family law matters, is intended to be a less formalized manner to resolve disputes. As such, it can prove to be less emotionally and financially burdensome. That depends largely on the willingness of the parties to be reasonable in mediating a case.
There are times when parents may be required to participate, by Court Order, in child custody mediation.Same Sex Marriage
North Carolina now legally recognizes same-sex marriages.
That means all the same rights and privileges of marriage, together with the legal protections afforded under the NC family laws including post separation support (PSS), alimony, child custody, and equitable distribution, are afforded to same sex, married couples.
At the same time, certain aspects of the specific verbiage of some marriage laws remains unchanged and therefore is occasionally subject to dispute.
For example, North Carolina is one of the few remaining states that recognizes and allows lawsuits for the Common Law heartbalm causes of action known as Alienation of Affections and Criminal Conversation.
That’s problematic, as Criminal Conversation, as presently recognized under the law, requires sexual congress between a man and a woman. It is, therefore, ripe for litigation to determine whether the law, as written, results in violations of Due Process and Equal Protection of the laws.
Our Charlotte divorce attorneys will guide you through this stressful and difficult time in your life. We take a cutting-edge approach to handling divorce, child custody, adoption and other family-related legal matters across the State of North Carolina, employing technology to make the process easier on you.
Unlike your typical court case, a family law case is often far more complex and involved. Contact us today to learn more about the steps along the way.Family Law Attorneys Who Listen to Their Clients
We understand that you cannot take a “cookie cutter” approach to all cases. The strategy for handling each case is specific to the circumstances and needs of each particular client. In some cases, the individuals involved are willing to handle issues amicably, and the strategy is much more relaxed and straightforward. In other cases, the tension is at an all-time high, and resolving issues will not be as cordial. In those cases, we are ready to employ creative and aggressive strategies to help our clients, whether we are in the negotiation process or at trial in court. No matter the strategy, legal services necessarily involve listening to clients and explaining the different family law matters to them.
“We are courtroom advocates, dedicated to tenacity, preparation, and hard work.”
– Bill Powers, Divorce Lawyer in Charlotte
It may take formal litigation and a ruling by the Court before reason prevails. An experienced family law attorney will carefully analyze the marital history, making certain to consider the implications of equitable distribution, a cheating spouse, claims for Alienation of Affection, Criminal Conversation, post-separation support (PSS in North Carolina), interim distributions, and child support.
Obtaining an absolute divorce in North Carolina may be more complicated than you realize. You may not be able to immediately file for divorce, contrary to how other states may operate.
We provide legal services to our clients from a simple divorce to complex case with a number of legal issues to hash out between the parties. That may include child custody, visitation, support, and enforcement of pending Court Orders (Motions to Show Cause and Show Cause Orders).
While you may not understand where to begin, our family lawyers do. Our goal is to guide you through the legal process while taking into consideration your unique circumstances.Contact Our Attorneys to Get Your Questions Answered
When you’re ready to consult with an attorney, contact the Charlotte divorce lawyers at Powers Law Firm PA. Contact us online or by telephone at 877-462-3841 to arrange an initial consultation with family law attorney Bill Powers.
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