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What Happens When One Spouse Doesn’t Want a Divorce in North Carolina?

What Happens When One Spouse Doesn't Want a Divorce in North Carolina?

Divorce is often a difficult, emotional, and complicated process at the end of a relationship. Despite the reasons why you may be seeking a divorce, your partner may not agree, or be unwilling to go along with the process.

No matter what, you deserve the resources and tools you need to move forward in life with confidence. In this blog, we outline your options for separation if one spouse doesn’t want a divorce in North Carolina. Keep reading to learn more.

Understand North Carolina’s Unique Divorce Laws

The State of North Carolina allows for no-fault divorce. A no-fault divorce in North Carolina requires that spouses have been separated for at least one year and one day before filing for what the law calls “absolute divorce.” A couple is eligible for absolute divorce when they have been living in different homes for one year and a day, and at least one spouse began the separation with the intention of permanent separation.

Even after the separation, an unwilling spouse still does not need to agree to the divorce for it to be legal. An unwilling spouse is not required to complete or sign any paperwork, go to court for a hearing, or file any paperwork with the court.

The one requirement, however, is that your spouse must receive proper legal notice of the divorce case that you file. This means that your spouse must be properly served with the paperwork related to the divorce before it can be made final.

What Divorce Papers Do Separating Couples Need in North Carolina?

Divorce is paperwork intensive. If you’re ready to initiate the divorce process, here’s what you need to file:

  • A complaint: This document should state your case and your request for a divorce. If you intend to ask for spousal support or property division, these requests and supporting facts must be included in the complaint. The Mecklenburg County Courthouse provides forms for an absolute divorce. If you believe your spouse will be difficult or your case involves additional claims, you may want to consult an attorney.
  • A summons: This document tells your spouse how long they have to respond to your complaint. If they fail to respond to the summons, your spouse won’t be able to have a say in the divorce proceedings.
  • A Domestic Civil Action Sheet: This document provides details about your complaint and your divorce case.
  • A Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act affidavit: The law requires that you file an Affidavit stating whether or not your spouse has been in the military. The purpose of this is to protect the rights of servicemembers who may be stationed away from home and unable to respond to a lawsuit.

Navigating the divorce process can be difficult, especially if you’re also dealing with the logistics of child support, child custody, alimony, and emotional pitfalls. The team at Myers Law Firm has handled divorce cases for over 60 combined years, and are ready to support you though the process.

What Happens if Your Spouse Ignores the Divorce Proceedings

If your spouse ignores the paperwork, they do so at their own peril. You may file a Motion for Summary Judgment and proceed with the divorce anyway. You will still have to wait the applicable time periods and schedule a hearing, but the hearing may not require anyone to appear. The judge will just review the file to make sure all the paperwork is in the proper order.

RELATED ARTICLE: Equitable Distribution—What Does “Marital Property” Mean in Property Division Cases?

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Myers Law Firm: North Carolina’s Trusted Divorce Attorneys

There are many factors to consider if you are pursuing a divorce in North Carolina. When you need to make a big life change, having an experienced, empathetic family law attorney on your side can make a world of difference.

Our law office has over 60 years of combined experience handing all types of divorce cases, from the extremely complex to relatively straightforward. We know how difficult the process can be, which is why we treat every client and their family with the respect and dignity they deserve.

To learn more about how our family law firm can help you through a separation and divorce, especially if your spouse doesn’t want to end your marriage, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Get started by calling (888) 376-2889 or by filling out this brief online form to schedule your free consultation with a divorce lawyer and get trustworthy legal advice about what to do next.

References

North Carolina Judicial Branch.  (2021). Separation and Divorce. Retrieved from https://www.nccourts.gov/help-topics/divorce/separation-and-divorce

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

We are committed to continuing to serve our clients’ legal needs

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We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

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When Will Your Divorce Include Alimony?

Married couples going through divorce aren’t always on the same financial footing. Both partners might contribute to the household in their own way, leaving one relying on the other for income. This means that, without help, they could have trouble keeping up with the demands of living on their own.

And that financial help is not uncommon. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 1.8 million people in the US pay some form of spousal support. These payments often add up to thousands of dollars every year for the supporter. These large amounts make it important to understand what alimony is and whether it’s in play during your divorce.

What support is available?

Alimony is payment from the supporting spouse to the spouse in need after divorce. That help can range from a short-lived safety net to ongoing payments to keep a higher quality of life.

There are also options for temporary support while the courts consider alimony requests. Postseparation support payments are usually made over a short, specific term during your divorce. It could be available to those who really need financial help as the process moves along.

The requirements for postseparation support can take both parties into account:

  • What was your standard of living during the marriage?
  • What kind of income can you both earn?
  • What are your debts and financial obligations?

These payments can help one spouse stay afloat during the divorce, but they usually end when the divorce is complete. This is when alimony kicks in if it applies to your situation.

RELATED: 6 Things You Need to Know About Divorce in North Carolina

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Who is eligible for alimony?

You’ll have to address alimony before your divorce becomes final. You can ask for a change to the payments after they’re established, but you might lose the chance for support once you close the book on the divorce process.

Your situation will also likely have to meet three general requirements to make the grade:

  1. Help: One spouse has a serious need for help maintaining their finances.
  2. Ability: The other spouse can provide support without putting their own standard of living in danger.
  3. Behavior: There was no marital misconduct from the spouse requesting help.

One piece that won’t come into play is gender. Either spouse can ask for alimony as long as they are dependent on the supporting spouse.

Once a judge has decided alimony is in order, North Carolina spells out factors that can affect how much and how long payments will be, including but not limited to:

  • Age and overall health
  • Education, job experience, and ability to earn
  • Standard of living during the marriage
  • Marriage length and contributions over time
  • Financial needs of each spouse
  • Misconduct during the marriage

No one situation can trigger support, but many can impact the final ruling. Each factor could change the nature of the payments.

Instances for alimony

If one spouse decides to stay home and maintain the household while the other advances their education or career, that can translate to support. This can be even more impactful if you haven’t been married enough time to see the benefits of the arrangement. A court could decide to help the spouse in need as they regain their lost footing.

More long-term help could be in order if one spouse can no longer make up lost ground or meet needs on their own. This might be due to factors like age or ability. In this case, a judge may decide that a longer, ongoing payment is the best option.

One aspect that can quickly tip the scales is the reading on misconduct. While bad behavior can be a broad definition, cheating spouses are often at a disadvantage. If the supporting spouse was unfaithful, North Carolina law requires some amount of alimony. But if the dependent spouse was in the wrong, the law bars the judge from awarding alimony.

But infidelity isn’t the only action that could influence a potential alimony scenario. There’s a long list of behaviors that can sway spousal support, including:

  • Cruelty and unbearable treatment
  • Spousal abuse
  • Abandonment
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Wasting or hiding money

How much alimony can you expect?

North Carolina spousal support doesn’t rely on equations to determine the amounts or length of alimony. The judge can weigh the factors before them and make a subjective decision. Providing the right evidence to show your case could mean a big difference in the outcome. This is why it is so important to have a skilled and experienced family lawyer in your corner when alimony is at stake.

Myers Law Firm has over 45 years of combined experience helping clients work through complicated legal matters, including the many pieces involved in alimony proceedings and payment. The judge’s final call could stay in place for years to come, so assistance might make the process smoother now and help you financially in the future.

Call (888) 376-2889 or complete this simple form to schedule your appointment and learn your legal options during this difficult time.

References

Grall, T. (2018, December). Support providers: 2013. U.S. Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2018/demo/P70BR-158.pdf

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-16.1A (1995).

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 50-16.2A (1995).

North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission. (2019, June). North Carolina Divorce Packet. https://www.nccourts.gov/assets/inline-files/NC-Divorce-Packet-Aug-2019.pdf

North Carolina Judicial Branch. Separation and Divorce. https://www.nccourts.gov/help-topics/divorce/separation-and-divorce#alimony-7481

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

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We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

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Can I Get a Divorce Online in North Carolina?

No matter where you are in the United States, filing a divorce is not only emotionally taxing, but can also be legally complicated and difficult. Each couple has a unique scenario, which results in nuances in the legal process.

If You Want an Online Divorce in Mecklenburg County, You’ll Have to Wait

There are not currently procedures in place to file for divorce online in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. However, we expect that online filing will be coming soon. Currently, Mecklenburg County is expected to begin an online filing pilot program in December, 2021.

If you have any questions, Myers Law Firm, based in Charlotte, has the experience and knowledge to guide you through what you need to know before you file for divorce in North Carolina. If there are issues of child custody, property division, or financial support, you need to address those issues before you file for divorce—issues our team has experience handling for our clients.

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Requirements to File for Simple Divorce

If you’re ready to move forward with your divorce, there are a few standard requirements that are required before a spouse can file for divorce in North Carolina.

-At least one spouse must have been living in North Carolina for at least six months.

-You must have been separated (living in different residences) from your spouse for at least 12 months.

Once the divorce is filed, the spouse who did not initiate the filing (the defendant) must be given proper legal notice by being served with the Summons and Complaint.

What Is a Simple Divorce?

By definition, a simple divorce is a when a divorce is filed solely to end a marriage. In the court case, no other issues are involved, only the divorce. If there are any other issues involved, such as property division, alimony, child custody, or child support, you need to consult with an attorney before filing for divorce. You may waive or lose certain rights if you get divorced without addressing these issues, so don’t wait to contact a divorce attorney who can guide you through this process.

File for Divorce With Confidence

Working with an experienced lawyer can empower you throughout the divorce process. Though no situation is the same, lawyers knowledgeable in North Carolina family law will be able to guide you through the divorce process, whether it is a simple divorce or there are other issues that need to be resolved. With the assurance that you’re taking the right steps to achieve your goals, you can confidently proceed without having to worry about costly errors.

Myers Law Firm Can Help

Myers Law Firm Can Help

If your situation is complex and you want to file for divorce with confidence, Myers Law Firm is here to support you, backed by our experience, knowledge, and compassion. Rooted in North Carolina, we have over 50 years of combined experience and are passionate about helping our clients succeed.

To take a first step, schedule an initial consultation with us by calling (888) 376-2889 or fill out our contact form.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

We are committed to continuing to serve our clients’ legal needs

Single Divider

We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

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Equitable Distribution — What Does “Marital Property” Mean in Property Division Cases?

When a couple is going through a divorce, one of the most difficult and stressful areas is determining how property will be divided. In North Carolina, this is conducted through a process called equitable distribution.

Equitable distribution is the legal division of marital and divisible property between spouses. This process can often become contentious, which is why parties may need to go through mediation or have a judge determine who gets what.

If you are going through a divorce, here is what you need to understand about equitable distribution and how it can affect your property division case.

The Factors Used to Determine Equitable Distribution

It’s not uncommon for divorcing spouses to disagree on the division of property, which includes both assets and debts. In these instances, the law in North Carolina divides marital property using the theory of equitable distribution.

You should note, however, that the term “equitable” distribution does not mean “equal” distribution. Instead, “equitable” means “fair in the eyes of the court,” which could be different than an equal division. As a result, the court can have a great deal of discretion over which spouse gets which assets. A judge can split your property 50-50, unless they determine that it would be inequitable or unfair to do so.

When a judge assesses the fairness of a split, they consider a series of factors, including:

  • Each spouse’s income, debts, and property
  • How long the marriage lasted and each spouse’s age
  • Ways in which a spouse directly or indirectly contributed to the other’s educational and professional opportunities
  • A custodial parent’s need to occupy or own the marital home or other household items
  • The physical and mental health of both spouses
  • Tax considerations related to property division
  • Any other factors that are “just and proper”

The court will not consider child support and alimony payments when dividing marital property.

RELATED: 5 Common Questions About Property Division During a Divorce

 

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Understand the Differences Between Marital Property and Separate Property

When you get married, it’s generally assumed you’re going to share more than a declaration of love. It’s natural to accrue assets over time, which will need to be divided if you go through a separation and divorce.

For the purposes of equitable distribution, North Carolina law defines marital property and separate property differently. There is also a third category, divisible property. Here are the distinctions:

Marital Property

This category includes any income, assets, property, and debts that you and your spouse have accumulated during the marriage. Marital property can include wages, pension and retirement benefits, investment accounts, real estate, personal property (cars, boats, jewelry, furniture, etc.), mortgages, car loans, and credit card bills.

Separate Property

Separate property refers to assets and debts owned before the marriage, along with gifts or inheritance that was specifically given to one spouse and not the other during the marriage. Typically, your spouse does not get a share of your separate property.

Separate property can transform into marital property, however, if it is mixed with marital assets. For example, if your spouse uses inheritance to buy a jointly titled asset, like a new home for the both of you, then it might become marital property.

Divisible Property

This category exists for assets that spouses accumulate in the time between the date of separation and the date the court handles property distribution. This includes assets that change in value during that same period. Note that assets that are acquired before the date of separation will still count as divisible property if it’s received after the date of separation.

To decide the valuation of items in an equitable distribution case, the judge will refer to the fair market value. Fair market value is the price that a hypothetical willing buyer would pay a hypothetical willing seller for the item in question when neither is under a compulsion to buy or sell the property.

Fair market value does not refer to an asset’s price when it was first purchased. It also isn’t the price someone would pay today if they bought an item brand new. Here’s an example: Let’s say you purchased a new sofa two years ago for $1,500. Today, the fair market value may be $500 because the sofa is no longer new and has experienced normal wear and tear.

Evidence Is Necessary When the Burden of Proof Lies With You

Burden of proof is key to disputes regarding equitable distribution in North Carolina. When it comes to the classification of marital property vs. separate property, it is up to each spouse to identify and prove the existence of assets that are going to be divided. This can be accomplished with written documentation, photographs, receipts, and property searches.

The court will only provide classifications and the value of marital property according to the evidence that is provided. In other words, if you want to dispute the classification of an asset as marital property, then the burden of proof would fall on you to present evidence otherwise. For example, if you want to claim a bank account as separate property because it has been in your name since before the marriage and your spouse did not contribute to it, then you will need evidence to prove that.

Tracing the Origins of Mixed Assets Can Prove Challenging

A mixed asset is an item that contains components of both marital property and separate property. One example of a mixed asset is a retirement account that was started before the marriage, but continued to receive contributions after you were married.

Mixed assets are complicated because they require a judge to determine how much value was acquired before and during a marriage. If you want to seek a partial separate property classification, then the burden of proof will be on you to provide evidence from the time before and during the marriage. Tracing the origins of accounts or property can be extremely frustrating and challenging since financial records and dates can go back many years and documentation can be difficult to find. Many times, an expert witness such as a forensic accountant will need to be hired to assist in this process.

Since this evidence can be tough to compile, these assets often wind up classified as marital property. If you are experiencing issues with mixed assets in your divorce case, you may want to contact an experienced law firm to help defend your legal rights.

RELATED: 6 Things You Need to Know About Divorce in North Carolina

Who Is Responsible for Debts Accrued During My Marriage?

Another common pain point in divorce cases relates to marital debt. In North Carolina, marital debt refers to debts accumulated during the marriage and prior to the date of separation for the joint benefit of both parties. Examples of marital debt include mortgages, credit card debt, and car loans.

If you are looking to claim that a debt was marital, then the burden of proof once again falls on you to prove that you and your spouse enjoyed a joint benefit. Joint benefit means that you and your spouse both found value in taking on the debt in question.

For example, if you charged a family vacation to a credit card in your name, then you might be able to prove that it’s a marital debt since the entire family enjoyed something of value. Likewise, if you wanted to prove that debt sustained during the marriage is the separate party of your spouse, then you would need to prove that a joint benefit was not in place.

Reach Out to Myers Law Firm For Help Protecting Your Assets

The family law attorneys at Myers Law Firm are ready to act as your advocates and protect your rights when dividing property during a divorce. We have years of experience handling every aspect of property division cases and an thorough knowledge of local courts, and we won’t hesitate to pursue your case aggressively and fight on your behalf in court if necessary.

To schedule your initial consultation, please call our Charlotte office toll-free at 1-888-376-ATTY (2889) or contact us using our online contact form.

References

Howell, C. (2017, September 8). Equitable Distribution: The Marital Property Presumption. University of North Carolina School of Government. Retrieved from https://civil.sog.unc.edu/equitable-distribution-the-marital-property-presumption/

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

We are committed to continuing to serve our clients’ legal needs

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We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

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How Much Does It Cost to File for Divorce In North Carolina?

Divorce is difficult no matter what. For some, the cost to file for divorce in North Carolina adds significant hardship to an already financially stressful situation. Filing fees are something couples need know about beforehand, as they might impact decisions on when to begin divorce proceedings.

This article provides basic information on filing for divorce in North Carolina, including when it might be possible to avoid the typical fees. We’ll also discuss how an attorney can help with the entire process.

Filing for Divorce and Applicable Fees in North Carolina

Filing for divorce is a relatively straightforward process. However, you cannot begin with it until you’re certain of your eligibility for divorce in North Carolina.

To file for divorce:

  • A couple must be separated (living apart) for at least one year
  • One must be a North Carolina resident (at least one of the spouses) for at least six months before the case is filed

Once you’re sure of your eligibility, take the following steps:

  1. Prepare your forms, including a Domestic Civil Action Cover Sheet, a Civil Summons, and a Complaint for Absolute Divorce. The North Carolina Judicial Branch provides these in a divorce packet on their website. Sign the forms and make copies for yourself and your spouse. Be sure to hold off on signing anything that must be notarized until you can meet with a notary.
  2. File the forms with your county’s court clerk. There is a fee for filing divorce papers, and it is subject to change. Currently, the cost to file a Complaint for divorce is $225. If you wish to resume a maiden or former name, there is an extra $10 filing fee. However, this is well worth the cost; the process of changing to a prior name as part of a divorce is much easier than the regular name change process.
  3. Serve the papers. This simply means having the forms delivered to your spouse by a sheriff or certified mail. If you want to deliver the papers yourself, your spouse must sign a waiver to accept that. Having papers served comes with a fee – typically $30 for the sheriff in North Carolina to do it. Lesser fees may apply if serving the papers by mail.
  4. Wait 30 days after your spouse has been served to move forward with the divorce (whomever delivered the papers should be able to provide a service date). The other party has 30 days to file an Answer. If the case is an uncontested divorce, the other spouse usually does not file anything, but you still have to wait the 30 days.

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This Process Only Applies to Divorce

If you’re considering divorce in North Carolina, you need to be aware of some very important points. First, filing for a divorce is separate from the other claims for custody, child support, alimony, and equitable distribution. These are the claims dealing with the main issues that surround a separation. While you must be separated for one year before you file for divorce, you can file in court for custody, child support, alimony, and equitable distribution at the time you separate, or you can agree on all of these issues even before your separation in some instances. The divorce that is filed after the one-year of separation does not affect the other pending claims or your settlement if you have resolved everything already.

VERY IMPORTANT: Under North Carolina law, you must have either resolved your claims for equitable distribution and alimony before the divorce is granted OR you must have filed claims for equitable distribution and alimony before the divorce is granted. If a divorce has been filed against you and these other issues have not been resolved, you should contact an attorney to make sure you have properly preserved the claims for equitable distribution and alimony.

Under North Carolina law, you must have either resolved your claims for equitable distribution and alimony before the divorce is granted OR you must have filed claims for equitable distribution and alimony before the divorce is granted.

Possible Exemptions for Avoiding Fees

The courts understand that it’s extremely difficult for some couples seeking divorce to cover the fees for filing and serving papers. In such cases, it may be possible to get a filing fee exemption and avoid some or all of the cost to file for divorce in North Carolina.

One way to avoid court costs is to file as indigent and have the fees waived. Typically, receiving the following benefits qualifies you as indigent:

  • Food and Nutrition Services
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Work First Family Assistance

If you think you qualify as indigent and want to avoid filing and serving fees, submit a Petition to Proceed as an Indigent (Form G-106), located on the North Carolina Courts website and at your county Clerk of Courts. Fill out the form and indicate your reason for applying as an indigent. If you do not receive any of the benefits listed above (Food and Nutrition Services, SSI, or Work First Family Assistance), check the box indicating that you are unable to advance the court filing costs.

Attorneys Can Help You Avoid Unnecessary Fees

While county clerks will help you find and submit the proper paperwork for your divorce case, they cannot provide legal guidance as you complete the forms.

If the cost to file for divorce in North Carolina is adding to your stress, an attorney may be able to help you avoid unnecessary spending and make the process go more smoothly. Myers Law Firm has a track record of successful client outcomes, and we’d be honored to assist you in your divorce proceedings and cost reduction.

 RELATED: 6 Things You Need to Know About Divorce in North Carolina

Contact Myers Law Firm for Divorce Help Today

If your family is about to enter divorce proceedings, the knowledge and guidance of an experienced attorney can be invaluable, from helping you avoid filing fees to ensuring you achieve your goals for custody and alimony.

To schedule an initial consultation, please call (888) 376-2889 or fill in the simple contact form on our website. Let us put our experience to work for you!

References 

North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission. (2019, June). North Carolina Divorce Packet. North Carolina Judicial Branch. https://www.nccourts.gov/assets/inline-files/NC-Divorce-Packet-Aug-2019.pdf 

North Carolina Judicial Branch. (2012, December 1). Court Costs and Fees Chart. https://www.nccourts.gov/assets/documents/publications/court_costs_chart-1Dec2012-civil.pdf?lfc05ngZRmwkQGdR8vwSWiNmQIZ175Xu  

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

We are committed to continuing to serve our clients’ legal needs

Single Divider

We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

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Understand the Difference Between a Separation Agreement and a Consent Order

If your marriage is deteriorating, you may be looking for ways to start the separation process. If you’re struggling to figure out what to do, you might not realize that you have options other than immediately going to court to fight things out.

In this blog, we’ll review two legal options that are available to separating couples as alternatives to a court battle: separation agreements and consent orders.

What’s the Difference Between a Separation Agreement and a Consent Order

If you’re looking for ways to resolve the issues involved with a ending your marital relationship, a separation agreement or consent order could help. Here are the differences between them:

Separation Agreement

A separation agreement is a private contract between spouses that outlines how you and your spouse want to settle the issues related to your separation and the end of the marriage. You can enter into a separation agreement at any time after you separate. The terms of the agreement remain in full force and effect even after the actual divorce, which you cannot get until you have been separated for one year. This contract can deal with all issues related to a separation and end all aspects of the marital relationship except that you cannot get remarried until you are divorced.

Because a separation agreement is a contract, it’s not on public record and one party can sue if the other violates the terms of the agreement. Signing a separation agreement is serious, so it’s always a good idea to consult an experienced North Carolina divorce attorney before signing one.

Consent Order

A consent order is similar to a separation agreement in that it can resolve all issues related to the dissolution of the marriage. However, the parties sign it and it is then presented to a judge and it becomes a court order which is enforceable by contempt. To get a consent order, you must file a lawsuit against the other person. And because it’s part of a lawsuit, any consent orders are on public record.

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How Do I Know Which Option Is Right for Me?

Being able to get a consent order or separation agreement in place is generally the best option. This is because it means you and your spouse have resolved the issues related to your separation. This avoids going through an emotional, expensive process that can take a tremendous amount of time and effort by having to go to court and have a judge make the decision for you. Determining which option is right for you can be different in different cases, but it is generally best to put property division and alimony arrangements in a separation agreement and custody and child support agreements in a consent order.

RELATED: What Do My North Carolina Child Support Payments Cover?

Need Help During Your Separation or Divorce? Talk to a Lawyer First

If you’re struggling to initiate a separation, a consent order or separation agreement could be the solution you need. One of the best ways to protect your best interests, understand all your options, and make the process go smoothly as possible is to work with an experienced divorce attorney. An attorney can help you take the necessary steps to implement a separation agreement or consent order.

At Myers Law Firm, we have over 50 years of combined experience standing with people going through separations and divorces in North Carolina. We know how challenging it can be to identify the best solution for you and your family, which is why we make sure you understand the options available to you so you can make the best choice possible.

Myers Law Firm: Supporting People Through Separation and Divorce for Over 40 Years

If you need a separation, divorce, or ways to resolve a separation disagreement, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us and see how we can assist you. We’ve helped countless clients like you get the tools and resources they need to imagine a brighter future, even when the present is difficult. If you need help with a divorce or separation in Charlotte or anywhere in Mecklenburg County, schedule your initial consultation by filling out our quick online contact form or calling our Charlotte office toll-free at 1-888-376-ATTY (2889).

We are ready to walk with you every step of the way, providing the guidance and counsel you need to face the stressful prospect of a family law case with confidence.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

We are committed to continuing to serve our clients’ legal needs

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We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

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How Do Courts Decide What’s in a Child’s Best Interests?

When courts issue a child custody order, they must consider which services and parenting arrangement best serve the child’s unique needs. This isn’t a simple, cut-and-dry process. Because custody decisions can profoundly affect a child’s physical and emotional wellbeing, courts weigh a variety of factors and might even call in specially trained experts.

In this blog, the child custody attorneys at Myers Law Firm will outline some of the factors that go into determining what is in the child’s best interests in North Carolina.

What Is the Definition of the “Best Interests of the Child?”

North Carolina’s courts must always focus on the child’s best interests when making child custody decisions. That means that the judge’s top priority should be the minor child’s health, welfare, and safety. This doesn’t just cover their physical wellbeing—it also involves their mental health, emotional needs, and intellectual development.

While there’s no universal definition of “best interests of the child,” there are certain factors that courts consider when deciding what types of actions, services, orders, and decisions will preserve a child’s emotional wellbeing during a divorce. By considering factors that impact a child’s circumstance and a parent or guardian’s ability to care for them, courts, judges, attorneys, and parents aim to reach an agreement that puts the child’s safety and wellbeing first.

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What Do Courts Consider When Deciding a Child’s Best Interests?

When determining a child’s best interests, the court will consider multiple factors. Some of these factors carry more weight than others, but the goal is to reduce stress on the child, avoid needless litigation, and make sure they’re in the best possible home arrangement.

Here are a few of the elements a court may consider:

Reducing Stress and Prioritizing Emotional Bonds

Divorce is never easy. In North Carolina, the priority is making sure any children involved endure the least amount of stress possible. This means staying with the parent or guardian with whom the child has the strongest emotional connection. This is usually the primary caregiver, but not always.

What the Child Wants

Judges in North Carolina don’t have to ask the kids what they’d prefer. However, some judges will ask older children for their opinion on what they believe is in their best interest.

Domestic Violence

North Carolina law requires domestic violence between ex-spouses to be included in the process to ensure children are safe and protected. If you have questions about how instances of domestic violence might impact your child custody case, it’s best to speak with an experienced lawyer as soon as you can.

Parental Infidelity and Misconduct

While this factor does not carry as much weight as others in this list, past sexual misconduct is something the courts look at when assessing what will best serve the child. Parents to focus on their children’s best interests and not their personal grievances when making custody decisions. Committing adultery might make someone a bad spouse, but it doesn’t automatically mean they’re a bad parent. If the child is safe, secure, and emotionally connected to the parent that “cheated,” the court will be less likely to remove them from that parent’s care.

Keeping Siblings Together

To protect kids’ emotional bonds, keeping siblings together is a priority for many courts and judges in North Carolina. Some exceptions would allow the children to be split up, including the children being far apart in age or one child has a stronger emotional bond with one parent over the other.

Religious Beliefs

Courts cannot discriminate against one parent over the other based on their religious beliefs. Instead, the priority is making sure children have what they need to be spiritually healthy and cared for.

Neighborhood

The court may take the neighborhood a parent lives into consideration, but only related to preserving the child’s status quo. It’s important not to give a wealthier parent preference over the other. So, a court may consider neighborhood if it offers the community, playmates, school, and emotional bonds the child is used to, rather than simply making the decision based on which parent has the most material resources.

Above all, the court’s focus is on preserving children’s emotional bonds and maintaining the status quo as much as possible.

Above all, the court’s focus is on preserving children’s emotional bonds and maintaining the status quo as much as possible. The weight given to these factors can vary from case to case, so if you have questions about your situation, don’t wait to contact an experienced family law attorney who can help you understand your options.

A Guardian Ad Litem Can Help Identify Your Child’s Best Interests

In some child custody cases, the court will appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL). This individual is specially trained to help identify and articulate your child’s best interests. They will get to know you, your child, and the other parent. The GAL may also interview teachers, coaches, and other professionals to understand your child’s needs and priorities. They will then report their findings to the court, suggesting what is in your child’s best interests. Because guardians ad litem are objective professionals, many courts give significant weight to their recommendations.

While guardians ad litem are most often used in contentious custody disputes and cases involving abuse or neglect, they are an option in any child custody case.

RELATED: What Do My North Carolina Child Support Payments Cover?

Facing a Child Custody Case? Get Support From a Family Law Attorney

Understanding your options as a parent facing divorce and a custody battle can be an emotional, confusing experience. At Myers Law Firm, we believe that no one in this position should walk alone. We’re committed to helping parents and families like yours find the best possible solution for their children and new family structure.

With over 40 years of experience supporting families in North Carolina, we understand custody laws and the details that go into crafting successful cases. We support every client with empathy, practical solutions, and child-centered advocacy.

Myers Law Firm: Supporting Families Every Step of the Way

If you need help understanding your child custody options or how to protect your children in a divorce, don’t wait to contact the team at Myers Law Firm. To schedule an initial consultation with one of our family law attorneys, please call our Charlotte office toll-free at 1-888-376-ATTY (2889) or use our online contact form.

 

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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What Can I Do About Parental Alienation?

When parents separate or divorce, children are forced to adjust in multiple ways. No matter how parents feel about each other, it’s critical that children continue to feel loved and secure, which requires a level of compromise and joint effort between the parents.

Unfortunately, not all parents put their child’s interests first during a divorce. Sometimes, one parent engages in manipulation that undermines and damages the other parent’s relationship with the child. This type of relationship damage is called parental alienation, and it can lead to grief and emotional anguish, not to mention concern for the children’s wellbeing and sense of security.

In this blog article, we’ll explore parental alienation and help you identify it sooner rather than later. We’ll also discuss what to do about parental alienation and provide advice about how to address the problem.

What Is Parental Alienation and Why Does It Happen?

Parental alienation occurs when a parent-child relationship deteriorates and becomes less close than it was due to interference and manipulation from the other parent. The engagement becomes more negative, less frequent, or both, and the parent feels like they’ve lost critical elements of their connection with their child. Parental alienation can range from mild to severe.

Relationships between parents and children will naturally evolve as the child (and the parent) grow and change. Even people who are very close with their parents can probably remember times in their life when the relationship became more distant for a while.

However, parental alienation is different than the natural relationship changes that life brings. Parental alienation happens because one parent engages in behaviors that actively harm the other parent’s relationship with the child. This type of harmful behavior is most common in cases that involve divorce or separation.

Sometimes, the other parent is deliberately working to alienate the child from the other parent out of anger or spite, but that’s not always the case. The parent who’s causing the alienation may not realize what they’re doing on a conscious level, or they may tell themselves they’re only doing what is best for the child.

No matter why parental alienation happens, it can lead to emotional harm and trauma for both children and parents. So, parental alienation always needs to be recognized and addressed as early as possible.

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Parental Alienation: Warning Signs and Symptoms

Most children, especially young children, want to please their parents. When one parent fosters negativity toward the other, the child can feel conflicted and guilty. A child who is starting to experience parental alienation might experience, anxiety, anger, depression, problems at school, eating or sleeping disorders, and other behavioral issues.

The parent who is causing the alienation may hide their behavior or make no secret of it. Either way, watch for signs that parental alienation may be beginning in your family. The other parent might:

  • Deny you access to your child in person or over the phone
  • Withhold important information about your child or their activities
  • Schedule alternatives to tempt your child away from your scheduled time
  • Eavesdrop on your phone calls or monitor your text messages
  • Lie to you or your child about events and conversations
  • Refuse to pass along gifts or money you send to your child
  • Allow or encourage your child to say negative things about you
  • React poorly if your child says positive things about you
  • Interrupt your time with your child with lots of phone calls or text messages
  • Instruct your child to spy on you and report back
  • Use your child as a messenger instead of communicating directly
  • Unnecessarily share details of the divorce or settlement your child
  • Deliberately cause your child to experience hardship (skipped meals, unmet needs) and then blame you
  • Make statements that cause you to worry about your child when nothing is wrong
  • Refuse to be flexible and make reasonable changes to scheduling and visitation
  • Offer your child more than an age-appropriate say in scheduling and timeshare details, often while encouraging or manipulating the child to side with them in disagreements

If you see or suspect any of these alienating behaviors, you need to monitor the situation and determine what is going on. Just because one or two of these occur does not mean parental alienation is occurring. As mentioned above, relationships between parents and children change over time. However, if these actions are occurring on a regular and consistent basis, you should act sooner rather than later for the sake of your child’s wellbeing and your relationship with them.

What Can I Do About Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation can be very difficult to prove in court. However, if you can provide evidence and make strong arguments, you may be able to convince the court to intervene, possibly by changing the custody arrangements.

To gather evidence of parental alienation and make a compelling case in court, you should follow these steps.

Keep a Record of Events

Write down the date and circumstance any time you believe you were denied rightful access to your child. You should also record any incidents where your ex lied about you or spoke negatively about you in front of your child. If you end up in court, the records you’ve kept may help establish patterns of alienating behavior and convince a judge to intervene.

Create a Paper Trail

Hold on to emails, texts, and other communications in which you asked to see your child or discussed legal arrangements. Not only does this prove your effort to maintain your relationship with your child, but it could provide valuable proof if your ex lies about these conversations or doesn’t keep to their word.

Explore Counseling

An experienced therapist who has training in family issues should know about parental alienation and understand how to fight it. If you suspect parental alienation or see it starting to happen, talking with a therapist can be a valuable step. Not only will therapy give you and the child tools and vocabulary to address the issue, but it will also show that you’re working to improve the situation.

You may even want to consider asking the other parent to attend counseling sessions with you. These sessions can be joint or occur separately. Either way, it could lead to valuable progress. And making these types of efforts can only help your custody case, no matter how your ex responds. If you make a legitimate attempt to reach out and your ex refuses, a court may look favorably on your efforts in a future hearing.

Act Fast and Be Tenacious

Fighting against parental alienation can feel frustrating and exhausting, especially when the problem has become severe. However, you wouldn’t give up if the threat to your child were related to health or safety, so don’t give up here. Your relationship with your child, as well as their overall wellbeing, are at stake.

Remember also that it’s important to address parental alienation as soon as possible. If your ex succeeds in damaging your relationship with your child, it can create a vicious cycle. Your ex may claim that you’re spending less time with your child because you don’t care, which may drive your child further away. It’s never too late to try and repair the damage done by alienation, but it’s also never too early to

Don’t Fight Bad Behavior With Bad Behavior

If you believe your ex is trying to harm your relationship with your child, the worst thing you can do is to respond in kind. Do not talk badly about your ex in front of your child, and don’t try to keep your child away from the other parent in violation of a custody order or agreement. Remember that when you take the high road, the law is on your side. Family court judges do not take kindly to parents violating court orders or badmouthing each other in front of their children. If your ex is engaging in these behaviors and a judge finds out, your ex will be in trouble. But if you start behaving the same way, all your leverage will be gone.

Talk to an Experienced Family Law Attorney

As mentioned, parental alienation can be difficult to prove in court. However, an experienced attorney should have the resources and training required to identify parental alienation and bring it to light in court. Sometimes, a lawyer can help you address the problem without even going to court. Your attorney can communicate with your ex and let them know you have representation and are dead serious about fighting for your relationship with your child, which may make your ex think twice before continuing to lie and manipulate.

RELATED: 5 Child Custody Myths, Debunked

Myers Law Firm Can Help With Parental Alienation and Child Custody Issues in Charlotte, North Carolina

At Myers Law Firm, we understand parental alienation and other complicated issues that come up during a separation or divorce. We have years of experience guiding clients through family law matters, and we can come up with practical, affordable legal strategies to address whatever needs and challenges you’re facing.

To schedule your initial consultation with an attorney from our team, please call us at 888-376-2889 or use the simple contact form on our website.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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What Do My North Carolina Child Support Payments Cover?

Parents who pay child support in North Carolina often want to know, “What does my child support cover?” And, as a follow-up question, many wonder, “What should I do if I think the other parent isn’t using child support properly and my child’s essential needs aren’t being met?”

In this article, we’ll break down the basics of North Carolina child support and explain what is covered, what isn’t, and what you can do if you believe the other parent is misusing funds from child support.

The Basics of Child Support in North Carolina

When a marriage ends in North Carolina, or when unmarried people who have kids together break up, both parents have an equal responsibility to provide financial support for the child or children.

If you’re the custodial parent — the parent who gets most or all of the parenting time, also known as physical custody — the court will assume you’re paying child support “by default.” The day-to-day childcare expenses you pay while you have physical custody of the child, like food, clothing, housing costs, and other expenses, serve as your share of basic child support.

If you’re the noncustodial parent (which means your child lives with your ex most of the time), you probably don’t pay these day-to-day expenses, or you pay much less of them. So, the law says you need to make up the difference and pay your fair share to meet your child’s needs. To meet your financial support obligations, you’ll be required to make child support payments, usually through check, electronic payments, or wage-withholding.

A court will determine the exact child support obligations and the structure of the child support payments in your case. Usually, the noncustodial parent pays child support until the child turns 18 or graduates high school, whichever is later, but not beyond age 20.

Child support is a separate issue from alimony, which is also called spousal support. Child support is paid to support a child, while alimony is financial support paid to a former spouse. Money you pay as alimony won’t affect the amount of child support you owe.

RELATED: When and How Can I Modify Child Support in North Carolina?

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What is Covered by Child Support?

Child support payment amounts are based on the noncustodial parent’s income and parenting time. The payments are intended to cover essential needs such as:

  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Housing
  • Educational expenses, including school supplies, and fees for extracurricular activities
  • Miscellaneous additional expenses

In general, child support payments should go toward reasonable and essential living expenses that support your child’s standard of living. The theory behind child support is that the child should enjoy the same standard of living as if both parents were living together.

The amount of child support paid should include payments for health insurance for the children and work-related childcare expenses. When the court determines the amount of child support, it will calculate expenses based on the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines and factor in any payments that either parent is currently making. For example, if the parent who pays child support is paying for health insurance for the child, those health insurance payments will factor into the child support calculations.

To learn more about the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines and find out exactly how courts in our state set child support, read our previous article on the subject, “What You Need to Know About North Carolina Child Support.”

If I’m Paying Child Support, Do I Have to Pay for Other Things, Too?

Generally, the answer is yes. You have to pay for the child’s expenses during the time the child is with you. However, what exactly you have to pay for in addition to child support and expenses when the child is with you will be unique to your case.

If the amount of child support in your case is based on Worksheet A of the Child Support Guidelines, then the child support you pay is supposed to be all that you have to pay the other parent. If your custody arrangement places the child support on Worksheet B of the Guidelines, then both parties are expected to share expenses for the child in a “true sharing” arrangement. This sharing includes items that would go between houses or benefits the child while at both houses. Examples of these types of items include:

  • School lunch payments
  • Haircuts
  • Shoes that go back and forth
  • School expenses
  • Winter coats

Whether you are on Worksheet A or B, you and the other parent may agree between yourselves on payment for things like extracurricular activities or summer camps.

Also, if you resolved your case by agreement with the other parent, you may have included provisions for sharing expenses for the child. Usually, the parent who has to travel for visitation is responsible for the travel expenses. However, sometimes travel expenses may be included in the child support calculation as an extraordinary expense.

What Can I Do if My Ex Is Misusing Child Support?

The parent who pays child support rarely gets any say in how the other parent spends the money. However, if you have concerns that your ex is spending the money on drugs or alcohol, or if you believe they’re neglecting the needs of the child, there may be grounds to modify the custody arrangement and then recalculate your child support.

RELATED: When and How Can I Modify Child Support in North Carolina?

Contact Myers Law Firm for Help with Child Support in Charlotte, North Carolina

At Myers Law Firm, our family law attorneys are here to support you and fight for your rights during a divorce and any related legal matters, like child custody and child support. If the other parent owes child support and refuses to pay, we can help you hold them accountable without violating any existing court orders.

If you need help with a child support issue in Charlotte or anywhere in Mecklenburg County, schedule your initial consultation by filling out our quick online contact form or calling our Charlotte office toll-free at 1-888-376-ATTY (2889).

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

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6 Things You Need to Know About Divorce in North Carolina

Going through a divorce can be a difficult process full of stress, fear, and uncertainty. If you have children or significant marital assets, things can get complicated in a hurry. Without the help of a skilled and experienced divorce attorney on your side, you could be in trouble.

In this blog article, we’ll clear up common sources of confusion and give you some practical advice about divorce in North Carolina. Keep reading to learn six essential facts about the North Carolina divorce process.

1. Anyone Can File for Divorce — if They Meet the Requirements

In North Carolina, any legally married spouse can file for divorce, regardless of which state the couple was married in. However, there are two requirements that must be met:

  • One spouse must be a legal resident of North Carolina who has lived in the state for at least six months before filing.
  • The two spouses must have lived separate and apart for at least one continuous year, and at least one spouse must have intended to leave the marriage throughout that time.

The separation requirement is very important. You don’t have to file any paperwork to begin the separation, but either you or your spouse must move out of the marital residence and intend to leave the marriage.

Keep in mind that the separation requirement is for one continuous (uninterrupted) year. If you and your ex move back in together and decide you want to recommit to the marriage, only to realize a month later the decision was a huge mistake, you have to start the one-year separation period all over again. (However, physical intimacy doesn’t necessarily affect the separation; if you and your spouse decide to “hook up” with no strings attached, and one or both of you still intends to leave the marriage, it won’t affect the one-year separation period.)

For a filing fee of $225, the filing spouse can file a Complaint for Absolute Divorce with the Clerk of Court. For more information about how to file, read our previous blog article: How to Obtain an Absolute Divorce in Mecklenburg County.

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2. North Carolina Is a No-Fault Divorce State

In North Carolina, the spouse filing for a divorce does not need to prove the other spouse was at fault to get an absolute divorce (a complete termination of a marriage). So, you don’t need any specific grounds for divorce in our state — you just need to meet the requirements we described in the previous section.

However, even though North Carolina’s divorce laws don’t require you to prove fault, you can still file for a fault-based divorce based on marital misconduct or incurable insanity. (We won’t go into divorce based on incurable insanity here, as it’s fairly rare.)

A divorce based on marital misconduct is also called a divorce from bed and board. You may be able to get this type of divorce if your spouse engaged in any of the following six behaviors:

  1. They abandoned your family.
  2. They kicked you out of the marital home for no good reason.
  3. They inflicted cruel treatment on you (such as domestic violence) that subjected you to harm or endangered your life.
  4. They treated you so badly that your life became unbearable.
  5. They abused alcohol or drugs to the point that your life became unbearable.
  6. They committed adultery.

Divorce from bed and board often creates confusion because the name is misleading: if you petition a court for a divorce from bed and board and succeed, you’ll still be married to your spouse. You won’t be able to remarry until you get an absolute divorce. So, why would anyone want to get this confusingly named type of “divorce” that doesn’t actually end the marriage?

The reason is that a divorce from bed and board can still serve a couple of important purposes. First, you can file for this type of divorce without being separated for one year; if you succeed, the divorce will create a legal separation and may provide grounds for removing your spouse from your home. Second, proving that your spouse is at fault for the breakdown of your marriage can put you in a better position as you handle divorce-related legal issues like child custody and spousal support. Then, after you have been separated for one year, you can come back to court and get a judgment of absolute divorce, which will end the marriage for good and allow you to remarry.

RELATED: 4 Things You Should Know About No-Fault Divorce in North Carolina

3. North Carolina Courts Will Split Your Marital Assets 50/50 — Unless You Can Give Them a Good Reason to Do Otherwise

During a divorce, North Carolina courts try to divide marital property in a way that’s fair and equitable to both parties. Marital property includes any income, assets, and debts you and your spouse accumulated during the marriage.

Marital property usually includes:

  • Bank account balances and cash on hand
  • Investment accounts
  • Pension and retirement accounts
  • Real estate
  • Personal property, such as:
    • Cars, boats, and other vehicles
    • Jewelry, antiques, artwork, and collectible items
    • Furniture and appliances
  • Debt, such as:
    • Mortgages
    • Auto loans
    • Credit card debt

Not everything you own is necessarily marital property. The court will consider any assets you owned before the marriage and any property you received during the marriage as a gift or inheritance to be separate property. These assets won’t be part of the property division process unless you commingled (mixed) them with marital property.

How does commingling happen? An easy example is if you took money that you brought into the marriage and put it into your joint checking account that you shared with your spouse. However, other examples of commingling aren’t so obvious. For example, if you owned the marital home before getting married but used marital funds to pay the mortgage or renovate the house, your home will have a marital property component.

Once you separate from your spouse, you no longer accumulate marital property together. However, sometimes spouses earn property during the marriage but don’t receive it until after the separation. And often, assets change in value between the date of separation and when the court gets around to property division. In both cases, these assets become divisible property, and the court will deal with them during the property division process.

Once all the property is accounted for, the court has to divvy it up. North Carolina follows a rule for property division called equitable distribution, which means at the beginning of the property division process, the court will assume both spouses should receive an even split of the marital assets. Then, the judge will listen to arguments from either spouse or both spouses to change this 50/50 split.

Factors the judge will consider may include:

  • Each spouse’s income, debts, and property
  • How long the marriage lasted
  • Each spouse’s age
  • Ways in which a spouse directly or indirectly contributed to the other’s educational and professional opportunities
  • A custodial parent’s need to occupy or own the marital home or other household items
  • Both spouses’ physical and mental health
  • Tax consequences related to the property division

Also, North Carolina law says judges can consider any other factors they decide are “just and proper” during the property division process. So, judges have a lot of individual leeway when deciding who gets what in a divorce.

4. Prepare for a Fight Over Alimony, Child Custody, and Child Support

Besides property division, three other major legal issues can lead to battles in a divorce case: alimony (also called spousal support or postseparation support), child support, and child custody.

  • Alimony is financial support paid by one spouse (the supporting spouse) to the other spouse (the dependent spouse). This support is supposed to help the dependent spouse stay financially secure as they transition out of the marriage.
  • Child support is an ongoing, court-ordered payment made by one parent to the other parent, who has primary custody of the child. The parent who receives child support is supposed to use the money to pay for the child’s reasonable needs and expenses.
  • The child custody process determines who gets legal custody of the children and sets up an arrangement for physical custody.
    • If the child is with you and not the other parent, then you have physical custody. When you have physical custody, you can make day-to-day decisions about the child’s care — what they should eat, what they should wear, and so on.
    • Legal custody gives the right and responsibility to make important long-term decisions on the child’s behalf. These decisions can cover matters like education, healthcare, and religious practice.

Each of these legal issues is complex in its own right and will probably involve many filings and trips to court, unless you and your spouse can work together and settle the issue with either a separation agreement or consent order. If you want more in-depth information about one or all of these issues in North Carolina, refer to the following blog articles from our website.

RELATED: Who Gets Alimony in North Carolina and Why?

RELATED: What You Need to Know About North Carolina Child Support

RELATED: 7 Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Child Custody Case

5. Don’t Plan on Getting an Annulment

An annulment is a legal judgment that voids a marriage. A divorce ends a marriage, but an annulment is more like turning back time: it’s as if the marriage never even happened.

Some people believe they can get an annulment because they weren’t married long or got married hastily. However, this isn’t true. You can only get an annulment if your marriage wasn’t legally valid in the first place, and these circumstances are very rare.

There are only six possible factors that could make your marriage legally invalid in North Carolina. Those factors are:

  1. Either spouse was already married at the time of the marriage
  2. You and your spouse are closely related (closer than first cousins)
  3. Either spouse was younger than 16 on the date of the marriage, and you didn’t have a special court order that allowed you to get married at a younger age
  4. Either spouse was forced to marry against their will or was incapable of understanding what they were doing at the time of the marriage
  5. The marriage was based on one spouse lying about being pregnant, and the couple separated within 45 days of the marriage and stayed separated for at least one year and produced no children within 10 months of the date of separation
  6. Either spouse was physically impotent (not capable of engaging in sexual intercourse) at the time of the marriage; the impotence must be permanent, incurable, and diagnosed by a medical professional

If your marriage doesn’t meet one of these six grounds for an annulment, then you can forget about getting one — it’s not going to happen. If you believe your marriage wasn’t legally valid, talk to an experienced family law attorney right away; getting your marriage annulled can be a complex process, even if you have grounds.

6. It’s Critical to Find the Right Divorce Lawyer

A divorce is one of the most important events in your life and will have major implications on your future. So, it’s essential to choose a divorce attorney who not only has experience and understanding of the law but who also communicates well and makes you feel comfortable and confident.

Be sure to do plenty of research when choosing a divorce attorney. Feel free to meet with more than one attorney and ask every attorney you meet plenty of questions. If the attorney has a problem with you asking questions or considering other options, that’s a red flag, and you should keep searching.

Make sure you understand your attorney’s experience, previous results, and fee structure. A good divorce attorney should have plenty of family law experience, a fair and considerate pricing structure, and a proven track record of achieving favorable results for their clients. You don’t have to take the attorney’s word for it, either; ask about client testimonials, check out online reviews, and ask around among friends and colleagues.

Finally, listen to your gut. If you get a bad vibe from an attorney or don’t like the way they conduct themselves, look elsewhere, even if the attorney’s credentials and experience seem strong. Your divorce lawyer doesn’t need to be your pal, but you will need to trust them and spend a fair amount of time with them. A divorce is stressful enough, so the last thing you need is a lawyer who talks down to you, makes you feel anxious or uncomfortable, or won’t give straight answers to your questions.

Considering a Divorce in Charlotte, North Carolina? Get in Touch With Myers Law Firm

If you’re considering filing for divorce or your spouse has filed divorce papers in Mecklenburg County, the experienced, compassionate attorneys at Myers Law Firm are here to help. We’re ready to answer your questions, listen to your story, and fight to protect your rights. To schedule your initial consultation, please call our Charlotte office toll-free at 1-888-376-ATTY (2889) or use our online contact form.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

We are committed to continuing to serve our clients’ legal needs

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We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

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What’s the Difference Between Separation and Divorce in North Carolina?

The misconception that separation and divorce are the same is all too common. In fact, separation and divorce are two different things, and they serve different purposes.

In this post, we’ll go over the differences between divorce and separation in North Carolina, and we’ll provide insight about how the two events affect you, your relationship, and your family.

Separation Is Part of the North Carolina Divorce Process

Every marriage is different, and so there’s no one right way to address differences, take time away, or end a marriage. While divorce is the way to end the legal bond between two people, separation is the first step that can lead to many possible results, including divorce, indefinite separation, or reconciliation.

Defining Separation

Some states have legal separation, which is a legal filing in which a married couple formalizes a separation without dissolving their marriage. In North Carolina, there’s no official document or any other formal process for a married couple to become “legally separated”. You and your ex are only separated if you’re living apart and at least one of you intends to leave the marriage permanently. If one of you moves out of the marital home with the intent of leaving the marriage, you can mark the date of separation on your calendar, and that’s enough.

North Carolina couples must remain separated continuously for one year before they can file for divorce. If you get back together and resume the marital relationship but then realize it was a mistake, you have to start the one-year clock over again. However, isolated “hook-ups” do not automatically restart the clock, even if you and your ex engaged in sexual intercourse.

Initiating a separation is simple, but it also opens the door for couples to begin dealing with the issues of custody, child support, spousal support, and property division. This is where the real conflict comes into play.

Defining Divorce

Separation in North Carolina requires couples to live separate and apart for one year. However, separation does not affect your marital status. Unless your marriage was not legally valid and you can get an annulment (which is rare in North Carolina), divorce is the only way to permanently dissolve your marriage and go back to being a single person for legal purposes.

Technically, filing for divorce is a simple process. All you need to do is file a lawsuit with the court and go through the process, which takes about 50–60 days after the other party is served with the lawsuit. In the end, you get a judgment of divorce, and your marriage is over.

Issues Related to Separation

Although obtaining the judgment of divorce is simple, all the issues that will come up as a result of the separation can get very complicated. These are the major legal issues that go along with dissolving a marriage: property division (equitable distribution), child custody, child support, and spousal support (alimony). The legal process of resolving these divorce-related claims is where all the conflict actually happens. In contentious cases, these issues may not be finalized until after the divorce is final.

Remember this, because it’s important: You do not have to be separated for one year in order to resolve claims for child custody, child support, spousal support, or property division. You can resolve them at any time during the one-year separation period, and you can even use a separation agreement to resolve them before you actually separate (so long as you separate within 30 days of creating the agreement). We’ll talk more about separation agreements in the following section.

To learn more about the process of filing for and finalizing an absolute divorce in North Carolina, read our blog article about this subject.

RELATED: How to Obtain an Absolute Divorce in Mecklenburg County

What is a Separation Agreement in North Carolina?

A separation agreement is a legal contract between you and your spouse that resolves the legal issues we discussed earlier (child custody, child support, property division, spousal support). There’s no law in North Carolina that requires you to get a separation agreement, and a court will not issue one for you. Only you and your spouse can create the agreement, and both of you need to be on board.

If you and your spouse can agree on the terms, your separation agreement can resolve any or all of the major legal issues surrounding your divorce. Your agreement won’t be valid unless both parties sign the document in front of a notary, who will notarize the signatures.

You can also put your agreement into a document called a consent order. This is an agreement that is signed by you and your ex and then by a judge. There are different reasons for doing a separation agreement versus a consent order, and we’ll talk about these differences in a future blog article.

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Do I Need a Divorce Attorney If I’m Separated?

If you’re separated or planning to leave the marriage, it’s never too early to start getting legal advice from an experienced family law attorney. Divorce can be a complicated, confusing, and stressful process, especially if you try to go through it without a lawyer.

Not only can a divorce lawyer take all the paperwork and legal preparation off your plate and make sure your rights are protected, but they will also attend to important details you may miss. As an example, some couples forget about various insurance accounts or retirement funds, which often name beneficiaries. If these accounts don’t get included in property division, it can be a mess to figure out what to do with them after a divorce finalizes.

Certain situations also demand the help of an attorney for the health and safety of the family. If you have a partner who is abusive or unstable, a lawyer can get the authorities involved and get court orders that protect you and your children.

No matter what your situation looks like, hiring a lawyer will most likely save you money in the long run unless you have a very simple, uncontested divorce. Make sure to choose an attorney who has experience handling divorce cases, and feel free to meet with multiple lawyers and search for someone who gives you confidence and makes you feel at ease. Your divorce may be a long process, and having the right advocate by your side can make all the difference.

Contact Myers Law Firm If You Need Help with a Divorce or Family Law Matter in Charlotte, North Carolina

At Myers Law Firm, we understand that the end of a marriage is never an easy time for either spouse, so we approach every case with compassion and understanding to search for solutions. While we excel at respectful negotiation and will work to find common ground with the other side, we are ready to stand up in court and fight for your rights with an aggressive approach if that’s what it takes.

The attorneys at Myers Law Firm have experience handling all of the major family law issues that surround the end of a marriage, including alimony, child custody, child support, and property division. We’re here if you need help. To get in touch with us, call our offices at 888-376-2889 or fill out our online contact form today.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

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We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

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Surviving Marital Separation: 6 Tips That Can Get You Through

For North Carolina couples, a 12-month period of marital separation must take place before either spouse can file for divorce. But not all separations end in divorce.

A marital separation can be a time of healing, introspection, and reconciliation. Separations can provide valuable time for couples to sort out their wants, needs, and individuality as they examine their relationship with their spouse (and often with themselves).

Even if a separation can have positive effects, that doesn’t mean separating is easy. Whether you end up filing for divorce or reconciling, a period of trial separation often sets off a rollercoaster ride of emotions and potential conflicts. If you’re experiencing a marital separation or facing the prospect of one, keep reading to learn some tips that can help you survive your separation.

Separating From Your Spouse? Here’s How to Make the Process Less Painful

Every situation is different, but we’ve found in years of family law practice that couples can take a few consistent steps to make their separations less painful and complicated.

Avoid Over-Sharing on Social Media

Keep the details of your separation to yourself. Avoid sharing too many details with friends, colleagues, or even family members and be especially cautious on social media. It’s healthy to find a support system, but use judgment while doing so. What you post on the internet is forever, and many people find that harsh words posted in the heat of the moment come back to haunt them later during the divorce process. Remember that anything you share on the internet can be used against you later during a court case, so it’s usually best to avoid posting about your separation at all.

Prioritize Emotional and Mental Health Over “Winning”

If your split is less than friendly, you may feel tempted to get back at your spouse, get revenge, or “win” the divorce. While feelings of hurt and even spite are normal, they shouldn’t be the focus of your separation.

Letting these feelings control your actions can backfire on multiple levels. Not only can you harm your case for divorce-related issues like child custody and child support, but giving in to anger and vengefulness can also hurt you on an emotional and psychological level. Try to focus on yourself during this time; prioritize your emotional health and well-being instead of seeing how much you can hurt your ex.

Practice Self-Care

It’s easy to get down and start feeling hopeless during a difficult time. Make sure to carve out time for yourself and acknowledge feelings of depression or anxiety rather than try to deny them. This is a good period of time to evaluate areas of your life that aren’t working and try to make positive changes. You may want to focus on exercise and fitness, get in touch with friends you haven’t made time for in a while, explore meditation, or take up a new hobby.

It may also help to keep a diary and write down what you’re experiencing, even if you’ve never been much of a writer. You may be surprised at what comes out, and it might give you insight on how to move forward toward the future you want.

Finally, try and settle on a daily schedule that includes productive activities and keeps you moving toward some goals. With all the change and uncertainty in your life, it’s easy to lose any sense of normalcy. Creating a routine can help you feel like you’re moving in a particular direction instead of just drifting without purpose.

Explore Therapy and Divorce Support Groups

No matter how long you’ve been married, a split is a major lifestyle change. Even if you were unhappily married, you were still used to seeing your ex-partner, and a sudden shift can leave you feeling disoriented and sad.

You’re far from the first person to experience these feelings during a separation. Connecting with people going through the same process can make it easier to cope and heal, and therapy or counseling can help you work through personal issues and pain. If you’re not sure where to start, Psychology Today hosts a search tool you can use to find divorce support groups in your area.

Audit Your Finances

Divorce can be an expensive process. If you and your spouse are separated, take this opportunity to audit your finances and look for ways to save. If that you do make your split permanent, you’ll need to replace shared items, find a new place to live, and potentially get your own essentials. Expenses you should plan for may include insurance policies, vehicles, and a phone plan. Keeping track of your expenses and cutting back on non-essential purchases is essential to prepare for an uncertain future.

Get Your Records in Order

Having your vital documents and records organized is never a bad idea, but it’s especially critical if you’ve separated from your spouse. Items you’ll need to gather include information on loans, credit card statements, pay stubs, employment history, healthcare, retirement information, and more.

If you have questions about what documents you should be collecting and organizing, or if you need help doing so, talk to an experienced family lawyer right away. If you have a will, power of attorney, or healthcare power of attorney that names your spouse as the executor or attorney-in-fact, you need to revise these documents.

Put Your Children’s Needs First

Divorce is never easy on kids. The COVID-19 pandemic has already created an anxious and unsettling environment for many children, so you’ll need to be extra mindful about how your separation affects your family.

When you and your spouse first separate, the number one thing to do is make sure you have a plan that prioritizes the needs and well-being of your kids. Decide how you’ll co-parent, implement a routine, and make sure to spend plenty of time with your children throughout the process. Do the best you can to keep your kids out of any conflicts with the other parent.

It’s also important to communicate with your children and explain to them what’s going on. Be as honest as you reasonably can based on your child’s age, developmental level, and temperament. However, you must keep them out of the conflict — and never bad-mouth the other parent to your kids! Talking bad about your ex in front of the kids is not only unfair but could hurt you during a court case if it comes out.

You’ll need to discuss your co-parenting plan with your partner, so try to be as level-headed and empathetic as you can. If you need help reaching an arrangement you both can live with, seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney.

RELATED: How to Co-Parent: 6 Tips for Success

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Experiencing a Separation or Dealing With Divorce in Charlotte? Contact Myers Law Firm Today

At Myers Law Firm, we have decades of experience helping clients in Charlotte and throughout Mecklenburg County find the best solutions for their families. If you need help with legal separation, divorce, or related family issues, get in touch with us. We can meet with you to discuss your options and a create a plan to protect your rights.

To schedule your initial consultation with an experienced family law attorney from the Myers Law Firm team, call us at (888) 376-2889 or use our quick and easy contact form.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

We are committed to continuing to serve our clients’ legal needs

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We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

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What to Do When Your Spouse Serves Divorce Papers

If you’ve been served with divorce papers, you may be feeling upset or even overwhelmed. However, understanding some of the initial steps that you’ll need to take may help you clear your thoughts and plan for what’s ahead of you. In this article, we’ll explain what you should do in the days and weeks after you’ve been notified of divorce proceedings.

What Are “Divorce Papers,” Anyway?


Most adults understand the general idea of being “served with divorce papers,” but few people know exactly what those papers entail or what they mean from a legal standpoint. So what are divorce papers, exactly?

Divorce papers in North Carolina actually consist of two items: a summons and a complaint. The summons is a paper that lets the defendant (the person being served) know that they are being sued, and it also asserts the court’s power to hear and determine the case in question. In addition, in North Carolina, the summons states that you must respond to the complaint with your written answer within 30 days by serving the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s attorney and filing the answer with the Clerk of Court.

The complaint is the pleading that the other spouse filed to initiate the divorce process. (In many other states, this item is called a “petition for dissolution of marriage.”) This document includes most of the important information about the divorce filing, such as:

  • The names and the county and state of residence of both spouses
  • The date and place they were married
  • The names of any children of the marriage who are under 18
  • An acknowledgement that the petitioner or their spouse have lived in the state or county for a certain amount of time prior to the filing of the complaint (in North Carolina, either the plaintiff or defendant must have resided in the state for at least six months prior to the divorce action.)The claims that the plaintiff is asserting, which may include:
  • Absolute divorce (the parties must have been separated for more than one year);
  • Custody or visitation;
  • Equitable distribution (which is the same as property division);
  • Alimony/spousal support.

Note that in North Carolina, you must be separated for at least a year before you can file for divorce. However, you can still file a lawsuit for the other claims at the time of separation, or in some cases, before you separate. A lot of people use the term “divorce papers,” even if they have only been sued for custody, support, property division or alimony.

RELATED: How To Obtain An Absolute Divorce In Mecklenburg County

Like most legal documents, divorce papers are not necessarily designed to be user-friendly. Even though all of the critical information is there, it’s easy to miss things if you’re not an attorney, and you may find it difficult to get a full understanding of your legal situation just by reading over these papers. This is one reason why it’s important to contact an experienced family law attorney as soon as you’re served divorce papers.

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What to Do If You’ve Been Served

Being served with divorce papers can create a rollercoaster of emotions — especially if the filing is unexpected. However, it’s important to keep a clear head during this time, as the actions you take in the aftermath of a divorce filing can have a major impact on your legal case.

While you may feel tempted to contact your spouse after being notified of a divorce filing, you need to resist this urge at all costs. Instead, seek support from family and friends as you collect your thoughts and let the initial impact settle. Lashing out at your spouse or trying to make arrangements off the record can negatively impact your legal case and will only make things more difficult for you in the long run.

Likewise, talking badly about your spouse in front of children of the marriage is never a good idea, and you should never put your children in the middle of the dispute between you and your spouse. Such actions could affect your children negatively and impact your relationship with them. It will also cause the court to look unfavorably on you during court proceedings, and the problems this can create for your legal case will almost certainly make you regret it later.

Once you feel that you’ve collected your thoughts and come to terms with your initial feelings about the divorce, it’s time to take some practical steps to address your legal situation. At this time, you should:

  • Make note of the deadlines. If you’ve been served with divorce papers, the summons should tell you how many days you have to respond by filing your own papers with the court. In North Carolina, you will have 30 days to respond, and you can also petition for an extension that will grant you an additional 30 days.
  • Contact an experienced family law attorney right away. You may be tempted to represent yourself during a divorce in order to save money, and this might make sense if you have very little in the way of assets at stake in the divorce. However, representing yourself in cases where important assets and financial consequences are on the line — including property, inheritances, child support, and/or alimony — can prove extremely costly if you make a mistake.In addition, a contentious divorce that involves various types of assets can quickly create an overwhelming workload for a person who tries to represent themselves. This can take up large amounts of your time and leave you feeling overextended, which can both add to your stress and make it even more likely that you’ll make a mistake. Working with an attorney who has experience handling divorce cases is the best way to make sure that your case proceeds smoothly and that you meet all deadlines and filing requirements.
  • Start getting organized. The court will ask for a lot of information from you during the divorce process, so it’s a good idea to begin compiling and organizing your records as soon as possible after you receive notice of divorce proceedings. In addition, this is a good time to undertake financial preparations, such as eliminating joint financial accounts and moving your finances to personal accounts.

Your attorney will be your most important resource and ally during this preparation process, as they can tell you what information you’ll need and help you to gather it. Although an exhaustive list of documents you’ll need to give to your attorney would be very long, examples of some of important documentation generally includes:

  • Any documents that can establish your income and financial status, such as bank statements, retirement account statements, tax returns, credit card statements, loan documents, and any other paperwork that can show the court your assets and debts
  • Birth certificates, medical records and bills, and insurance cards for any children of the marriage
  • School and daycare records for any children of the marriage as well as any bills that demonstrate the costs associated with education or daycare
  • Any documentation that demonstrates your past and ongoing involvement in your children’s lives

Although it’s understandable to experience a wide range of emotions when you’re served with divorce papers, remember that this is a critical time in your legal case, so it’s important not to panic or act rashly. Instead, you need to contact an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the upcoming process with a legal strategy that protects your rights and interests along with your children.

Contact Myers Law Firm If You’ve Been Served with Divorce Papers

At Myers Law Firm, we understand that the end of a marriage is one of the most difficult events that a person can experience, so we approach every family law case with empathy and understanding to look for common ground. While we pride ourselves on our negotiation skills and will work to reach a viable compromise with the other side, we are also prepared to stand up in court and fight for your rights aggressively whenever the situation calls for it.

The attorneys at Myers Law Firm have experience handling all of the major family law issues that surround the end of a marriage, including alimony, child custody, child support, property division, and divorce. We’re here if you need help. To get in touch with us, call our offices at 888-376-2889 or fill out our online contact form today.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

We are committed to continuing to serve our clients’ legal needs

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We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

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How to Co-Parent: 6 Tips for Success

Co-parenting after a divorce is rarely easy. Your entire outlook on parenting and routine must change, but that doesn’t mean you need to make your child’s well-being any less of a priority.

At Myers Law Firm, we have over 50 years of combined experience helping divorced and separated parents reach co-parenting arrangements and custody agreements that meet their family’s needs. In this blog article, we’ll share six tips you can use to create a successful co-parenting arrangement.

1. Prioritize the Child’s Well-Being

The number one goal of any successful co-parenting plan is to make sure your child or children feel supported and loved by both parents. Sometimes, this means deviating from the agreed-upon schedule and being flexible.

When the opportunity arises for your children to spend time with the other parent outside of their court-ordered schedule — at a concert or athletic event, for example, or when there are other spontaneous opportunities they would enjoy — don’t dismiss these opportunities just because they aren’t part of a pre-arranged schedule. Consider what your child wants and what would make them happiest.

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2. Show Up for The Kids

Successful co-parenting is about putting aside differences to show up, support your children, and solve challenges together. “Showing up” can mean attending meaningful events and life moments even though your ex will be there. You may not want to spend time with your ex, but your children probably understand this. When you make the effort anyway and don’t cause a scene with the other parent, it shows your children they are your first priority, and it will make them feel supported as they navigate life after the split.

3. Communicate With Your Ex

If you and your ex can’t communicate in a cordial and constructive way, you’ll struggle to make co-parenting work. Communication means talking with each other openly about issues and challenges involving your child, not venting whatever you’re feeling about the other parent. If you still have negative feelings or unresolved emotional issues with your ex, don’t air those grievances during co-parenting conversations. Work those issues out with friends, family, or a qualified therapist, and make co-parenting conversations about your children and what’s best for them.

Also note that when we say successful co-parents talk with each other, we mean directly: Kids should never act as the go-between between their parents. Let your children be children, and save your questions, concerns, and disagreements for private conversations between you and your ex. If your ex refuses to communicate or act reasonably, you may need to get an attorney involved.

4. Use Co-Parenting Tools

There are more apps and digital tools available than ever for separated and divorced parents raising children. Innovative digital tools like budget trackers, scheduling assistants, and conflict resolution apps can facilitate compromise, prevent confusion, and help both parents stay organized. With these digital tools keeping everyone on the same page, you and your ex can focus on being the best parents you can.

RELATED: Struggling With Co-Parenting? Get Help From These 8 Apps

5. Celebrate Milestones and Important Moments — Together

It’s not easy for children to adjust to having only one parent present for special moments. When something significant happens in your child’s life and the other parent isn’t a party to it, consider sharing the news with the other parent. Including them in the event or moment, even if it’s just via text or video call, keeps the focus on your children and makes these moments that much more memorable for the children.

6. Never Put Your Children in the Middle of a Dispute

If your divorce or separation involved pain, hurt feelings, or bad behavior, no one expects you to magically forget about all that. And if your ex is being unreasonable at any point during co-parenting, it’s okay to be angry at them.

However, co-parenting is most successful when you can insulate your children from conflicts between you and your ex, whether it’s a new issue or part of the problem that contributed to the split in the first place. You should never disparage or degrade your ex in front of your children, and you shouldn’t make your kids feel like they need to choose sides.

If your ex is refusing to co-parent reasonably or if they’re putting your kids at risk, you don’t have to put up with this behavior. You can get in touch with an experienced family law attorney who will protect your rights and help you resolve any aspects of co-parenting that aren’t serving your children’s best interests.

Contact Myers Law Firm for Help With Divorce and Related Legal Issues in Charlotte, North Carolina

We understand how challenging it can be to create a new normal as a separated parent. When co-parenting gets tough, the dedicated and compassionate team at Myers Law Firm is here to help. We can support you through challenging times and help you resolve legal issues like child custody and child support.

To schedule your initial consultation with an experienced family law attorney from the Myers Law Firm team, call us at (888) 376-2889 or fill out our easy and convenient online contact form.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

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We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

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What Are the Status of Divorce Cases as of June 1, 2020 Due to COVID-19?

As our societies start to open back up after being pretty much shut down due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the courts are beginning to open as well. Courthouses and courtrooms are especially tricky to open up because they are high-traffic areas that thousands of people go through each day.

While you can file for divorce, including custody, child support, alimony, and property division during the coronavirus pandemic, the health crisis may affect the timeline of your case. In this blog article, we’ll provide an update about the current situation with family law courts in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, and explain what you should do if you want to proceed with filing your case.

The Status of North Carolina Family Law Courts During Coronavirus

As of June 1, family court hearings in Mecklenburg County are beginning to resume. The first cases that are being scheduled are ones that were already scheduled between March 13 and May 29 when most hearings were continued. Also, some motions are starting to be scheduled. Mostly, the courts are trying to handle these remotely via video conferencing.

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Uncontested Divorces Are Proceeding

Right now, you can still file for an uncontested divorce in North Carolina and get the divorce complaint served on the defendant (your spouse). This will start the process. Once you file, there is an initial 30-day waiting period for the defendant to file an answer. In an uncontested divorce, we do not expect an answer to be filed but must still wait for this 30-day period. This is always true, not just during coronavirus — so, if you’re confident you want to proceed with an absolute divorce, you may as well file now and take care of the 30-day waiting period. Once the 30-day period has expired, the case will be scheduled for hearing. You should not need to appear for the hearing. Although it may be slightly longer to get a hearing date, this process is resuming the way it was before the virus.

What About Family Law Issues Like Custody, Property Division, and Child Support?

As with absolute divorce, you can file claims for child custody, child support, and property division (equitable distribution), but there are still some delays in getting hearings. However, if you need to file, you can at least start the process. The courts are scheduling hearings on motions and temporary relief, such as temporary child support and post-separation support. Also, part of a property division case requires a number of pretrial procedures before you get to court and those are still proceeding remotely.

What About Agreements or Settlements?

You can always resolve your case with an agreement or settlement. If you do an agreement that does not involve a court filing, that agreement is a private contract between you and your spouse. This does not require anything from the court and you can resolve the issues. Even if you need a consent order, which is an agreement that is put into a court order, you can still get those handled with minimal delay.

RELATED ARTICLE: 4 Things You Should Know About No-Fault Divorce in North Carolina

Myers Law Firm: Helping Clients With Family Law Cases in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County

At Myers Law Firm, we’re here and helping our clients every day during the coronavirus crisis. You can contact us by email or telephone, and we can meet with you and handle your initial case evaluation through a phone call or video conference.

If you want to move forward with a divorce filing or a claim for child custody, child support, or property division, we can help and there’s no need to wait — contact us today. To get in touch, call our offices at (888)376-2889 or fill out the quick contact form on our website.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

We are committed to continuing to serve our clients’ legal needs

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We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

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4 Things You Should Know About No-Fault Divorce in North Carolina

Like all other states, North Carolina allows for no-fault divorces. However, no-fault doesn’t mean no requirements. Before filing for an absolute divorce in North Carolina, you should make sure you know the rules and the consequences. Keep reading to learn more.

What Is a No-Fault Divorce?

A no-fault divorce is a divorce where neither party has to allege and prove that the separation and divorce is the fault of the other spouse. While a no-fault divorce doesn’t require either spouse to provide any grounds for divorce, one of the spouses still has to file the lawsuit for absolute divorce.

What Is an Absolute Divorce?

“Absolute divorce” is a legal term that means the termination of a marriage along with all the rights and privileges that come with it. When most people use the word “divorce,” they’re thinking of an absolute divorce.

So why is it called absolute divorce? The answer is that there is actually another type of divorce, which is called “divorce from bed and board.” A divorce from bed and board doesn’t terminate a marriage; instead, it’s a type of court-ordered separation.

RELATED: Remember to Protect Your Online Privacy During a Divorce

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No Fault Doesn’t Mean No Consequences!

A no-fault absolute divorce only results in the termination of the marital relationship, including the special rights that come with marriage. However, an absolute divorce does not resolve any of the other issues that come with marital separation, such as spousal support (alimony) and equitable distribution (property division). There are only two ways to resolve those issues:

  1. Settle them in a separation agreement or court order before the divorce is granted; or
  2. File claims for those issues in court before the divorce is granted.

If you don’t file or resolve your claims for property division and spousal support at the time your absolute divorce is granted, then you lose the right to file those claims forever! If you have a divorce action pending and you haven’t filed your claims for equitable distribution and spousal support, please contact us immediately for help.

Note that absolute divorce also doesn’t resolve issues of child custody and child support. Those are separate legal issues that will require separate court proceedings.

To get an absolute divorce in North Carolina, you and your spouse will have to meet certain requirements. Here’s what you need to know.

1. You and Your Spouse Need to Be Separated for 12 Consecutive Months

North Carolina law has a separation requirement for an absolute divorce, and this requirement has two parts:

  1. One spouse must intend to leave the marital relationship
  2. You and your spouse must live separate and apart for 12 continuous (back-to-back) months

So, if you and your spouse separate once for six months, get back together for two, and then separate for another six months, you’ve only been separated for six continuous months. You would need to remain separated for six more months — without getting back together again — before you can file for an absolute divorce.

RELATED: Remember to Protect Your Online Privacy During a Divorce

2. You Don’t Need to File Paperwork for Separation

You don’t have to sign any legal separation papers to start the 12-month separation period. To begin the separation period, you only need to do two things:

  1. Start living separately from your spouse with the intent to leave the marital relationship
  2. Keep track of the date the separation happened

Living separately from your spouse does not mean living in different rooms in the same house. Separation requires separate residences. If you and your spouse see each other from time to time, that’s fine — as long as you don’t get back together or move in again. If you do, the 12-month requirement starts over.

3. At Least One Person Needs North Carolina Residency for 6 Months

Let’s say that as soon as you separate, your spouse decides they want to move to another state so they can get some space. It’s okay for one spouse to leave the state. However, you can’t both move away, because the law says that before you can file a divorce lawsuit, at least one of the spouses petitioning for divorce needs to have been a North Carolina resident for six months or more.

What if you and your spouse both already moved to other states? In that case, one of you will have to move back and establish residency for at least six months if you still want to obtain a no-fault absolute divorce in North Carolina.

 

4. Only One Spouse Has to File for Divorce

Many people think spouses have to file together for no-fault divorce, but that’s not true. Under North Carolina law, only spouse one needs to file a summons and complaint and start the divorce process. (“Complaint” is just a legal term for the document — it doesn’t mean you’re blaming your spouse or complaining about anything.) If you’re the one filing, you must “serve” your spouse with the divorce papers.

To serve the complaint, your spouse will need to accept service, which means they sign a form that acknowledges they received the papers and agrees they are the defendant. (Again, the term “defendant” sounds harsh, but it doesn’t mean either spouse is on trial like in a criminal case. The person filing the papers is the “plaintiff,” and the person being served is the “defendant” — it’s as simple as that.) If the other party will not accept service, you will need to either have a sheriff serve the papers or have them delivered by certified mail.

Once your spouse receives the complaint, they have 30 days to “answer” or respond. You must give your spouse the full 30 days, so don’t try to go forward with your case unless your spouse has responded to the complaint or 30 days have passed.

You don’t have to work with your spouse to file a complaint for divorce, but if you want your divorce to go smoothly, you should probably talk about it with your spouse before you file to give them a heads up. Even if you and your spouse have a cordial post-separation relationship, they probably won’t appreciate getting blindsided with a divorce filing.

RELATED: Settle Your North Carolina Divorce Peacefully With Mediation

Do I Need a Lawyer for a No-Fault Divorce?

No! Plenty of people file their own papers for divorce. However, working with a lawyer has benefits. When you have an experienced divorce attorney handle your no-fault divorce, you can feel confident everything will be handled correctly. Your lawyer should also take care of preparing the paperwork and getting it filed at the courthouse, which saves you time, work, and stress.

Although you don’t need a lawyer to file for divorce, the other legal issues that tend to come with divorce are a different story. If your divorce involves any related issues, like spousal support or property division, then you should definitely get advice from an attorney about the law and your options before your divorce is finalized. Remember what we said earlier, because it’s very important: if your absolute divorce goes through and you haven’t filed claims for spousal support or property division, then you’ll lose your right to file those claims forever.

 

Finding a Lawyer for Your No-Fault Divorce in North Carolina

If you need help with a no-fault divorce or any other family law matter in the Charlotte area, the team at Myers Law Firm is here to help. We’ll treat you with compassion and keep you updated throughout the legal process so you always know what comes next. And while we work hard to negotiate and find common ground, we’ll never hesitate to stand up and fight for you with aggressive strategies if that’s what the situation calls for.

To schedule your initial consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys call us at 888-376-2889 or fill out our quick and convenient online contact form.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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What’s the Difference Between Joint Custody and Shared Custody?

In divorces where children are involved, the custody arrangement can be one of the hardest matters to settle. If both parents want to remain involved in a child’s life and the court has no important reasons to keep either parent away, then you can expect that your custody arrangement will involve joint physical and legal custody.

But what about shared custody? Many people use the terms joint custody and shared custody without knowing exactly what these terms mean. If you’re facing a custody decision in a North Carolina divorce and you want to make the best possible arrangement for your child, then you’ll need to understand the differences.

Physical Custody vs. Legal Custody

In any discussion about child custody, it’s important to remember that there are actually two different types of custody.

Physical custody involves looking after a child. This type of custody deals with the child’s physical location and who they are with at the given moment. A party who has physical custody can make minor day-to-day decisions for the child.

Legal custody is the right and responsibility to make long-term decisions for a child’s well-being. North Carolina statutes don’t define the term “legal custody,” so a judge or the parties involved in an arrangement can define what it means and what may be in a child’s best interests. The rights covered by legal custody can include the right to make important decisions about education, health care, and activities outside school, like sports and clubs.

RELATED: 7 Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Child Custody Case

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What Is Joint Custody?

When people say “joint custody,” they usually mean joint legal custody. A joint legal custody arrangement is based around shared parenting, which means both parents share equal decision-making responsibilities. One parent can’t make major changes or important life decisions for the child unless the other parent says it’s okay. Both parents must agree on important matters like education, health care, and activities outside school.

To make a joint custody arrangement work, both you and your ex will have to be ready to compromise and cooperate. Each parent in a joint custody arrangement should be able to trust that the other parent won’t make one-sided decisions.

Judges Usually Won’t Grant Joint Custody in Contested Hearings

Judges must consider the best interests of the child when creating a child custody order. For most judges, this means (among other things) not bringing the child back to court any more than is necessary.

In a contested custody case, the judge already knows the parents can’t work together and compromise on a child custody agreement — if they could, they wouldn’t be going through a trial and asking the judge to decide. So, to reduce the need for further hearings, the judge in a contested hearing may order that one parent has final decision-making authority on all decisions. Or, the judge can give authority to one parent for some issues and the other parent for other issues.

What About Shared Custody?

When people say “shared custody” they’re usually talking about joint physical custody. In a joint physical custody arrangement, both parents get to spend time with the child. The alternative is sole physical custody, which involves the child being with one parent almost all the time while the other parent gets very little time. When one parent has sole custody, the other parent may have to make child support payments.

Most people think of joint physical custody as equal time or something close to equal, but it doesn’t have to be. In a lot of cases, the child will mostly live with one parent (the “custodial parent”) while the other parent has visitation rights. However, it’s becoming more common for courts to create true “shared” custody arrangements where the child lives with both parents equally.

In a joint physical custody arrangement, parents must work out the custody schedule based on their housing and jobs as well as the child’s needs and the location of the child’s school. Because joint physical custody requires a lot of travel and communication from both parents, this type of custody works best when both parents live and work in the same area.

Legal custody and physical custody are separate issues, so both parents can share physical custody while only one parent has legal custody. If one parent has sole legal custody of the child, then that parent will make final decisions about education, healthcare, and activities outside of school.

RELATED: What You Need to Know About North Carolina Child Support

Myers Law Firm: Experienced Family Law Attorneys for Clients in Mecklenburg County

If you’re fighting for custody in the Charlotte area or just trying to understand your rights and options so you can do what’s best for your child, contact Myers Law Firm for help today. An experienced family law attorney from our team will meet with you to answer your questions, help you understand your options, and create a plan for what comes next.

To schedule your first consultation today, please call 1-888-376-ATTY (2889) or fill out our quick online contact form.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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Divorce Mediation

After years of struggling, you and your spouse decide to end your marriage. But you’re still on fairly good terms with each other, and you don’t want a long, drawn-out process that will cost you time, money, and sanity. For a couple who find themselves in this situation, mediation can be a great option.

In this blog article, we’ll review how mediation works and explain some of the advantages and downsides. Keep reading to learn more!

How Does Divorce Mediation Work?

In mediation, you and your spouse hire a neutral, third-party mediator. The mediator’s job is to review and resolve the issues in the divorce as fairly as possible.

Where a lawyer’s job is to protect the interest of their client, the mediator has no “dog in the fight.” They simply facilitate negotiation and try to help both parties reach compromises. In fact, the mediator doesn’t make any decisions at all. Instead, they make suggestions, and it’s up to the parties whether they reach an agreement or not.

Mediation is meant to offer couples a confidential alternative to taking their case to divorce court, where the process becomes very public and where the judge’s orders may not seem fair to either spouse.

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When you’re facing the uncertainty of divorce, it can be hard to understand your legal options and know which one is right for you. This is especially true when you’re trying to balance protecting your rights and property versus avoiding an expensive, drawn-out, bitter divorce.

Even during divorces that are less than friendly, mediation can still be an effective way to move forward. The key to a successful mediation is that both spouses show up ready to listen, communicate, and compromise.

Some of the benefits of mediation include:

Mediation Is Affordable

Mediation is affordable and typically ends up much cheaper than going through a divorce in court. Usually, each spouse pays for half the cost of the mediator.

Mediation Should Be Fair

With mediation, you and your spouse get to decide how to settle issues based on your own idea of what’s fair rather than having to accept a ruling handed down by the court. If you hire a skilled and experienced mediator, they should be able to balance both parties’ interests and reasonable arguments to create a compromise you both can live with.

Mediation Is Confidential

Everything that happens in mediation remains confidential. Even if you go to court later, no one can reveal what you or your spouse said in mediation.

Mediation Can Spare You Pain and Conflict

If children are involved in the divorce, you’ll probably have to maintain a relationship with your spouse for a long time. No matter how you feel about your spouse, it will be better for both you and your children if you keep that relationship civil and constructive. Mediation can spare both parties the conflict and emotional pain that comes with a court battle, which can leave you with a better foundation for a positive relationship with your ex.

Couples Can Still Hire Their Own Lawyers for Support

Spouses can (and should) still hire their own lawyers during mediation. The mediator’s job is different from your lawyer’s role. While the mediator works impartially to reach a compromise, your attorney will look out for your best interests, give you advice, and make sure you’re treated fairly throughout the mediation process.

RELATED: 8 New Year’s Resolutions for a Healthier Divorce

When Mediation Might Not Be a Good Option

If your relationship with your spouse involves domestic violence or abuse (physical, emotional, or financial), mediation may not be a reasonable option. Many domestic violence and abuse situations involve emotional manipulation by the abuser, and victims can risk even further abuse if they open themselves up to their abusive ex via mediation.

The best way to decide whether mediation is right for you is to schedule a consultation with an experienced family law attorney and ask about it. Only an attorney can listen to your unique story and give you personalized expert advice about your case.

Facing Divorce in North Carolina? Call Myers Law Firm

If you or someone you love is facing divorce, separating through mediation with the support of a lawyer may be a good option. At Myers Law Firm, we support our clients through each step of the divorce process and explore every option to get them the best outcome we can.

If you have questions about your divorce case, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’ll meet with you in a confidential consultation and help you understand your rights and options.

To schedule your consultation with an attorney from Myers Law Firm, please call (888) 376-2889 or fill out our quick online contact form.

We look forward to hearing from you!

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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Eight Resolutions Might Foster a Healthier Divorce and Improve Relations with Your Former Partner

A new year brings out the idealist in many of us — hoping and dreaming of doing things differently (or better, somehow) over the next 12 months. But the prospect of a new year can also focus our attention on big things that need to change. Perhaps because of this, the divorce rate spikes every January. If a relationship is no longer working, a new year can represent the chance for a fresh start.

If you or your partner recently filed for divorce (or are headed in that direction), consider making some New Year’s resolutions this year that focus on keeping the peace. These eight resolutions might help foster a healthier divorce and improve relations with your former partner.

1. Organize Your Finances

One of the best things you can do before you and your partner start negotiating finances is to get organized. Collect your most recent tax returns, pay stubs, credit card statements, mortgage information, retirement accounts, car loan statements, and any other financial records you might need in order to understand your shared assets and debt.

If you don’t already do this, put together a loose budget to assess your current monthly expenses as a joint household. Then, do some research on what your post-divorce living expenses might look like. The more organized and educated you are regarding your financial situation, the better you’ll be able to negotiate an equitable divorce.

2. Write it Down

Remembering everything you want to say during an emotional or heated conversation can be difficult. So you should resolve to make a pen and paper (or computer and keyboard) your best friend. As you think about the things you want to discuss with your partner, write it down. When it comes time to meet with them and your mediator or lawyer, this list will ensure you stay on topic and don’t miss anything you wanted to talk about. Writing these items down can also help remove emotion from the conversation. (You might want to handle some details via email if you find this to be the case.) And when you’re ready to come to specific decisions on things like parenting or financial details, continue writing things down in order to hold both sides accountable.

3. Expect Your Relationship to Change

For the sake of any sort of relationship with your partner in the future, acknowledge that divorce will change both of you. Moving forward, you’ll be living two separate lives as separate individuals with different needs. You might need to set boundaries to keep yourself from falling into old habits and expectations.

4. Expect Your Life to Change

Divorce comes with a lot of upheaval — and not just to personal relationships. Your living situation will change; your financial situation will change; and your responsibilities will change. The sooner you come to terms with this, the better. Try to keep resentment out of it. Even if you weren’t the one who initiated this change, the transition will be healthier if you can avoid finger-pointing. Focus on the future and on making good decisions that will set you up well for the next phase in life.

5. Be a Team in Front of the Kids

As hard as it will be, your children should hear about the divorce from their parents together at the same time. Discuss the key messages with your partner ahead of time and present a united and supportive front during the conversation. It’s going to be one of the most important discussions you’ll have as a family, and it’s important for your kids to know their parents still love them. For the sake of future family harmony, stick to the same key messages in the future — even (and especially) when you’re alone with your kids.

6. Rise Above

Divorce might take a lot from you, but it can only take your integrity if you let it. No matter how wronged you may feel, commit to being the better person. Stay away from social media pettiness. Save the majority of your venting for your therapist. Take deep breaths. Unless there’s an emergency or time-sensitive issue, follow the 24-hour rule: wait 24 hours before responding to emails or texts that could lead to arguments. This allows you to think things through instead of escalating the dituation with a heat-of-the-moment response. Avoid gossiping. And never badmouth your partner to your kids — even if your partner doesn’t afford you the same courtesy.

7. Take Care of Yourself

It can be easy to overlook your mental health during a divorce, but don’t lose sight of who you are in this process. A good therapist can help you navigate the pain, fear, and anger you’re likely feeling. If you’re not already part of a support group relative to your specific circumstances, you should consider seeking one out. Resolve to do something at least once each week that is just for you, like a new hobby or some exercise to boost endorphins. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to lean on your family and friends for extra support. It can be reassuring to know you’re not alone.

8. Keep Others Out of It

Your divorce proceedings should involve your original nuclear family and only those adults and children. If the divorce is happening because of another individual, or if a new significant other enters the picture during the process, that person’s only role in the divorce should be to observe. All negotiations and decisions made during the divorce should be done with the best interests of the nuclear family in mind and not be influenced by a third-party opinion.

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Myers Law Firm: Experienced North Carolina Divorce Attorneys

If you find yourself in need of divorce-related legal help — such as child custody, child support, or separation of assets — the experienced team at Myers Law is here to help. Our divorce attorneys have extensive experience handling property division cases and custody battles, and we’re ready to advocate for you if you need us.

To schedule your initial consultation, please call our Charlotte office at 1-888-376-ATTY (2889) or contact us online by completing this brief form.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

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Six Tips for Healthy Holiday Co-Parenting

The holidays can be a stressful time for just about anyone, with all of the special events, shopping, family obligations, performances, and crazy schedules to juggle. But if you’re a separated or divorced parent, worrying about child custody and co-parenting over the holidays adds another level of stress. Now you have to navigate separate household schedules, extended family expectations, any lingering tensions, and both parents’ desire to spend as much time with your children as possible.

The thing is, your kids deserve happy, low-stress holidays surrounded by people who love them and want the best for them. No matter what else you and your co-parent may disagree on, you’re likely on the same page here. To help you keep that big picture in mind, here are six tips for healthy holiday co-parenting that can help reduce stress for both you and your children.

1. Make a Holiday Co-Parenting Plan

Your child custody agreement should contain a holiday schedule. This will make your planning easier since you’ve already decided how you’ll share the holidays. However, what worked when your child was six years old may no longer make sense when they’re sixteen. If you need to revise your holiday parenting plan, consult with a lawyer in advance. An attorney may be able to help you and your child’s other parent modify the schedule.

If you don’t already have a plan in place for your children’s holiday schedule and their time off from school, the best option is to sit down with your co-parent and build one together — if you can communicate effectively with the other parent. Don’t assume that just because you have your kids every Wednesday, and Christmas this year falls on a Wednesday, that you will be with the kids on Christmas Day. If you need help or reach an impasse, contact your family law attorney.

Remember that when you’re trying to get an agreement on custody, you’ll have to make compromises. Accept that you won’t get everything you want. Do your best to coordinate celebrations with your extended families, talk about any trips you want to take so your co-parent is on the same page, and try to make sure that you both have quality time with the kids. And remember, you can celebrate a holiday on whatever day you like — no matter what the calendar says.

2. Start New Family Traditions

After a separation, you may want to hang on to old traditions to try to recreate past happiness. But focusing on things you used to do may highlight the fact that your family isn’t the same anymore. If your kids will be sad that Dad isn’t there to set up the train set or Mom isn’t there to read the annual holiday bedtime story, then it’s time to start new traditions.

Perhaps you can introduce a tradition from your childhood, dig out your great-grandmother’s sugar cookie recipe, or establish an annual “movie marathon day” where no one gets out of their PJs. Whatever you do, keep the focus on being together and finding something that your new family unit can look forward to every year.

RELATED: How Should I Handle Visitation When My Child Doesn’t Want to Go?

3. Acknowledge That Things Are Different

Because many holiday celebrations are structured around time with families, they may trigger unexpected feelings after a separation or divorce. Your children may act out, or you may find yourself feeling lost— especially if this is your first holiday season as two separate families. The truth is that change is difficult, and holiday events can highlight the fact that nothing will ever be the same.

As you come to terms with these changes, you should acknowledge that reality with your children and validate everyone’s emotions. It’s also important to not only remain civil with your co-parent, but also to communicate with them about how your children are handling this change and working through their grief. This way, you will both be on the same page if the extra holiday stress causes tensions to rise.

4. Don’t Try to Buy Your Way to Love

A lot of recently separated parents try to overcompensate by buying lots of presents for their kids or blowing their budget on something expensive. But showering kids with big-ticket items isn’t going to change the fact that their parents aren’t together anymore. It can also lead to resentment or anger from your co-parent if your gift-giving habits are consistently over the top. Instead, try to coordinate gifts with your co-parent and agree on a budget well before the holidays. Having a plan in place can help keep “gift competition” at bay and also reduce the possibility of duplicate gifts.

5. Be Flexible During the Holidays

Not everything will be “fair” when co-parenting around the holidays. You’re not going to get everything you want when it comes to time with your kids, and neither is your co-parent. But being flexible and willing to make compromises where necessary is an act of goodwill that can make things much more pleasant for everyone in the long run.

It’s also good behavior to model for your children. So, for example, if your co-parent’s family celebrates Hanukkah, but you don’t, consider an agreement where your kids will spend every Hanukkah with that side of the family regardless of what you have going on. If your child is sick on the day they were going to celebrate Thanksgiving with your co-parent, be open to helping them find another time that works for everyone, even if that happens to be one of “your” days with the kids.

RELATED: Use These 5 Tips to Create a Parenting Plan That Works

6. Practice Self-Care

Parents who take care of themselves both mentally and physically are better able to take care of their children. This is doubly true for those of you trying to peacefully co-parent during the holidays. To keep stress to a minimum while managing everyone’s busy holiday schedules, try to get enough sleep, eat well, and protect your personal downtime.

Be intentional about spending quality time with friends and family, especially when your kids are with their co-parent. And if you feel conflict or stress beginning to escalate beyond what you feel you can manage, don’t hesitate to seek out help from a third party, such as a therapist, mediator, or family lawyer.

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Myers Law Firm: Experienced Family Law and Custody Attorneys

At Myers Law Firm, we are committed to providing the highest degree of personal service to our clients as they navigate through difficult periods in their lives. If you are facing child custody complications during the holidays, our experienced and compassionate attorneys can serve as a source of support or guidance—both in and outside of the courtroom. We will answer your questions and work with you every step of the way.

To schedule a consultation, please call our Charlotte office toll-free at 1-888-376-ATTY (2889) or contact us using our online contact form.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

We are committed to continuing to serve our clients’ legal needs

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We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

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Medical Care Decisions and Divorce

Most people who receive vaccines are underage children who rely on their parents to make medical decisions for them. When parents disagree on whether to vaccinate their child, frustration and arguments can follow. And when a vaccination argument gets wrapped up in a divorce and all the other related legal complications, it can make it very hard for parents to find common ground.

So, what happens when separated or divorced parents can’t agree about essential medical care decisions such as immunizations? In this article, we’ll talk about how courts treat these disagreements and give an overview of your rights and options.

North Carolina Laws Regarding Vaccines

You may have noticed news about vaccinations (or the lack of them) hitting closer to home over the past year. In November 2018, a school in Buncombe County made national news when at least 36 students became infected with chickenpox. As reported by The Daily Tar Heel, this was one of the worst outbreaks in North Carolina since 1995. The outbreak occurred at a private school with one of the highest religious exemption rates for vaccinations in the state.

Stories like this may make you wonder what North Carolina law has to say about vaccines. Before a vaccination dispute with your ex-partner or divorced spouse escalates to the courts, it’s important to understand state law and how courts may apply the law in your case.

According to North Carolina law, children may not attend school (whether public, private or religious) or a childcare facility unless they have received all immunizations appropriate for their age. However, state law allows for two types of exemptions from the vaccine requirement:

    • Medical exemption

      If a doctor who is licensed to practice in North Carolina certifies that the required vaccines could harm the child based on certain known and accepted medical factors, then the child isn’t required to receive the vaccines for as long as the relevant medical factors continue. To get the exemption for the child, the doctor must fill out a specific form from the Department of Health and Human Services.

    • Religious exemption

      Parents whose deeply held religious beliefs conflict with the vaccination requirements can’t be forced to vaccinate their children. No official form exists for requesting religious exemptions in North Carolina. To claim a religious exemption, the parent requesting the exemption for their child must write a statement explaining their religious objection to immunizations, including the name and date of birth of the child. Then, the parent must provide this statement to any schools, camps, or childcare facilities that the child attends. The statement doesn’t need to be signed by a religious leader, notarized, drafted by a lawyer, or reviewed by any authority.

Our state does not allow for any exceptions to vaccination requirements based on personal or philosophical beliefs. So, parents who hold anti-vaccination views that aren’t based on religious convictions cannot receive an exemption for their child based on those beliefs.

RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: Can I Move Away With My Child During a Custody Case?

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How Do N.C. Courts Resolve Vaccination Disagreements?

So, what do North Carolina courts do when separated or divorced parents disagree over vaccinations and can’t resolve the issue on their own? Several different paths are possible, but in general, the judge must always make their decision based on the child’s best interests. How the process plays out will depend on your custody status.

  • If you have sole legal custody of your child, you’ll have the final say on vaccinations. However, the child’s other parent could petition the court to modify the custody order if they strongly disagree with your decision. The likelihood of the other parent preventing your decision in this scenario depends on the history of the case and why you ended up with sole legal custody to begin with.
  • If you share joint legal custody of your child and can’t come to an agreement with the other parent, you have three options:
    • One option is to go to the judge. Judges don’t like making these kinds of decisions, but in some cases, it’s the only option. The judge will have to determine what would serve the best interests of the child, which may require input from the child’s pediatrician.
    • A second option is to attempt mediation. This would still require you and the other parent to reach an agreement. Although it might seem like there’s no room for compromise at first, you may be able to find a middle ground. For example, you might agree to a vaccination schedule that’s spread out over time compared to the traditional administration schedule.
    • A third option is to go to binding arbitration. In an arbitration proceeding, a qualified family lawyer hears the evidence and reaches a decision much as the judge would do. This option is usually the quickest of the three, but you and the other parent will be responsible paying the costs.

If your child is older, the judge may ask the child whether they want to receive vaccinations and take their answer into account. Even if the judge does talk to your child, the child’s position is only one factor among many the judge will consider. There’s no set age for when a judge will talk to a child, but the judge must determine that the child is old enough to understand the nature of the decision. The older the child, the more weight the judge will give to their input.

No matter how much you want to avoid going to court, there are some areas where you may feel you can’t compromise, and vaccinations may be one of them. If the other parent wants to take a path with your child’s medical treatment that you believe places your child in harm’s way, then you may have to draw the line and fight. If the disagreement reaches this point, then you should contact a family law attorney who can fight aggressively in court to protect your child.

Myers Law Firm: Protecting Parents’ Rights in Charlotte, North Carolina

If you and the other parent can’t come to an agreement regarding vaccinations or you have concerns about your child’s custody order when it comes to vaccines, our experienced family law team at Myers Law Firm is here help. We’re committed to protecting your rights and serving the best interests of your child.

To schedule your initial consultation, please call our Charlotte office toll-free at 1-888-376-ATTY (2889) or contact us online using our online contact form.

References

N.C. exemptions. (n.d.). North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from https://www.immunize.nc.gov/schools/ncexemptions.htm

N.C. immunization requirements. (n.d.). North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from https://www.immunize.nc.gov/family/nc_immnz_requirements.htm

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

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Pets and Property Division

Although many people consider their pets to be part of the family, in the eyes of the law, your furry friend is either property or an asset. So, like all other possessions in a divorce, ownership of your dog, cat, rabbit, or other domestic animal is included in the property division negotiation.

You can try to reach a mutual pet custody agreement with your spouse similar to a child custody arrangement. If you can’t decide what to do, however, the judge in your case will consider several factors to determine who gets the animal.

Marital and Separate Property: When Was the Pet Adopted?

Since domestic animals are considered property and not children, the first factor in determining who gets custody is whether it was acquired during or before the marriage. Unlike child custody cases, pets adopted before a marriage are considered the sole property of the individual who purchased them. This is called separate property, and a judge will almost always award possession of the animal to the person who bought it and not consider the animal in the division of marital assets.

On the other hand, an animal adopted during your marriage is marital property, so determining who gets the animal becomes a bit more complicated. Though most courts still consider pets property, precedents have been set that apply considerations similar to child custody cases. When determining who gets the animal, a judge may choose to look at factors such as:

  • The current primary caregiver
  • Bonds between the pet and one owner
  • Ability to best care for the animal

RELATED ARTICLE: 5 Common Questions About Property Division During A Divorce

Asset Division: Weighing the Pet’s Value Against Other Property

Even if the animal is given to one owner over the other based on the factors above, the court will still consider the animal property. The owner who is not granted custody will receive something of equal value. In other words, in asset division, the animal is assigned a monetary value and weighed against other martial property to be divided by the divorcing couple. The emotional value of the animal will not be factored into the equation.

In the eyes of the divorce court, a purebred animal is worth more than a mixed breed animal adopted from a shelter. If you have a purebred show animal and wish to receive possession of the animal in your divorce, be prepared for the court to assign a monetary value to the animal and for that value to be offset by other assets going to your spouse.

Because most pets have much more than a monetary value to both parties, you don’t want the judge deciding who gets possession based solely on a dollar figure. This is one of the major reasons most couples seek to solve their pet possession issues outside of court.

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Exceptions and Atypical Circumstances

Most of the time, ownership of a pet will be decided based on the considerations mentioned above. However, there are a few exceptions and atypical circumstances that might affect who gets the animal in your divorce.

Domestic Violence

If domestic violence is involved in the situation and one of the parties files a domestic violence lawsuit, a North Carolina judge has the right to grant the victim full custody of the animal.

Emotional Support or Service Animals

If the animal is registered as the emotional support companion or a service animal for one of the spouses, a judge is very unlikely to grant the animal to the other spouse.

Gifts: The Animal Belongs to One Person Specifically

One detail included in separate property during a divorce is that gifts or inheritance belonging to one spouse is considered separate property, even if was acquired during the marriage. While it is unlikely a pet would be inherited, if the animal was a gift to one spouse in particular, it’s separate property.

Children

When child custody is involved in the divorce, the parent who receives sole or primary custody of the child will often also receive possession of the pet. This is especially true if the child is bonded to the pet. If child custody is shared and the child is uniquely attached to the pet, the judge may consider whether the pet should follow the child during their visitation schedule.

Spouses Can Create Pet Custody Agreements

If you and your spouse both want custody of the animal and choose to settle the issue between yourselves rather than in court, you can sign a pet custody agreement. Like a child custody agreement, you will decide and agree upon aspects of the animal’s life — including who gets the animal on what days, how bills and vet visits will be handled, and the type of food or medication the animal receives.

Like child custody, pet custody agreements are legally binding, and a judge can enforce the visitation schedule and other agreed-upon terms. Spouses have complete freedom in writing a pet custody agreement, which is why it’s best for divorcing couples to attempt an agreement before leaving the fate of their pet to the court.

Call Myers Law Firm if You Need Help With Property Division in Charlotte, North Carolina

Are you and your spouse going to court over custody of your pet or looking for help drafting a pet custody agreement that covers all the bases? Myers Law Firm is here to help. Our divorce attorneys have experience handling property division cases and custody battles throughout Mecklenburg County, and we’ll fight to get the best outcome for you and your pet.

Please contact our attorneys by calling 888-376-2889 or completing this brief online form to schedule your free consultation today.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

We are committed to continuing to serve our clients’ legal needs

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We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

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Same-Sex Marriage and Divorce

Same-sex marriages have been legal in all 50 states for over four years. Unfortunately, having your same-sex marriage recognized as legal doesn’t always translate to receiving equal or fair treatment, and some same-sex couples are running into unique problems while seeking a divorce. The main point of contention: how to determine when the marriage began.

Same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships first started becoming legal at the turn of the 21st century but weren’t made universally legal in the United States until 2015. Many same-sex couples lived in domestic partnerships, cohabitating arrangements, or marriages that took place in other states before their state began recognizing and performing same-sex marriages.

While same-sex couples can and do get divorced, many are discovering that there are complications they didn’t foresee. Keep reading to learn more about some of the difficulties and considerations that same-sex couples may face during a divorce.

Domestic Partnerships and Civil Unions

Many same-sex couples entered into a domestic partnership or civil union because they were unable to marry, and these legal partnerships provided some of the state benefits of being married. When same-sex marriages became legal, some states automatically converted civil unions into marriages, but others didn’t. The result is that if you were married while you still had a domestic partnership or civil union, you are in two legally binding relationships and will need to dissolve both.

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Alimony

In a North Carolina divorce, alimony (which is technically called postseparation support when it’s temporary and spousal support when it’s long-term) is financial support paid by a supporting spouse to a dependent spouse after separation. One of the factors a judge will look at when ruling on alimony is the length of the marriage.

For heterosexual couples, determining when a marriage began is easy. In North Carolina, however, same-sex marriage wasn’t legal until 2014, which complicates things for same-sex couples who got married out of state before 2014 but are now trying to get a divorce.

To put this issue in perspective, Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage 10 years before North Carolina did. If a couple was married in Massachusetts and has since moved to North Carolina, a North Carolina judge should go back to the date of the actual marriage in Massachusetts. The United States Supreme Court decision that declared prohibitions against same-sex marriage invalid made all marriages valid.

However, if you had a domestic partnership or civil union, that may not qualify for the same status as a marriage. In that instance, you may not receive credit for the time before you were officially married.

RELATED ARTICLE: What North Carolina Same-Sex Couples Need To Know About Family Law

Division of Property

What counts as marriage also has a significant effect on the division of property in a divorce. Under North Carolina law, the accumulation of marital property begins on the date of marriage.

That raises the question: does property bought or obtained during a domestic partnership or civil union get divided equally as well? The answer is probably not unless the laws of the state later made the union a marriage. But what if the couple was in a domestic partnership at the time and later got married when it became legal? In this scenario, the court will most likely use the date of marriage as the starting point for determining what’s marital property and what isn’t.

Child Custody

Child custody issues in same-sex divorces can be especially complicated since North Carolina law has not kept up with the realities of potential issues involving married or unmarried same-sex couples.

Unless both partners have legally adopted the child, only one parent may be the natural parent or legal parent of a child under North Carolina law. If only one parent is the natural or legal parent, the other parent may have to proceed as a third party and seek custody by showing that the natural or legal parent has acted inconsistently with their constitutionally protected rights and obligations. This is a complicated area of the law, and you should speak with an experienced family law attorney about your rights if you find yourself in this situation.

RELATED ARTICLE: Custody Battles May Play Out Differently for Same-Sex Couples in North Carolina

Contact Myers Law for Help With Your Divorce in Charlotte, North Carolina

At Myers Law, we’ve handled same-sex divorce and custody cases for clients in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, and we’re ready to advocate for you if you need us. We can fight back on your behalf against unfair court rulings and help you navigate the complications that North Carolina law can cause for same-sex spouses and parents.

If you have concerns about how a court might handle your same-sex divorce, get in touch with us today. Call us at 1-888-376-ATTY (2889) or complete our quick and easy online contact form to schedule your initial consultation.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

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Divorce Book Recommendations

Everyone processes stress and grief differently. When going through a rough divorce, talking to friends and family or seeking professional advice can be a huge help. But for those who enjoy sitting down and relaxing with a good book, reading can be another effective coping strategy.

In this article, we recommend six books that provide empathy, advice, and humor to help you get through your divorce.

Myers Law Firm receives no financial compensation for recommending these books, and the opinions and views expressed in the books listed do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Myers Law Firm. For legal advice about your divorce, please contact us or read some of the other resources on our blog.

True Stories From People Who Understand

For some, one of the best way to cope with the turmoil of divorce is by reading memoirs written by people who have been through a similar journey. The first two books on our list are true stories from people just like you who provide inspiration and advice during this difficult time.

  • Falling Apart in One Piece: One Optimist’s Journey Through the Hell of Divorce

This memoir by Stacy Morrison is an emotional telling of her divorce experience as a working mom in a high-pressure job in New York. Falling Apart in One Piece is an honest tale of loss, love, and forgiveness. Although angled more toward women in heterosexual divorce situations, Morrison’s story could inspire anyone going through the divorce process.

  • Falling Forward: A Man’s Memoir of Divorce

While most divorce memoirs are written by women, in Falling Forward by Chris Easterly, readers from both sexes get rare insight into a divorce from a man’s perspective. This memoir follows Easterly through his wife’s affair, their divorce, and his healing process.

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The Nitty-Gritty Divorce Self-Help Books

If step-by-step self-help books are more your thing, these two should be at the top of your list. And if you need more information about the divorce process in North Carolina, check out these FAQs.

  • Getting Past Your Breakup: How to Turn a Devastating Loss into the Best Thing That Ever Happened to You

    Getting Past Your Breakup by Susan Elliot is a true nitty-gritty self-help book. If you prefer a more analytical and strategic approach to working through divorce rather than a purely emotional, faith-based approach, Elliot’s advice style should be right up your alley.

  • Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Even After

    Katherine Thomas’ book, Conscious Uncoupling, provides more emotionally charged advice to empower readers. This book is written not only for people going through a divorce but also provides advice that could apply to any relationship.

Divorce Tales for When You Just Need a Laugh

Divorces are full of turmoil. Between the legal and financial aspects of your divorce and emotional talks with friends and family, sometimes you just want to read something a little lighthearted. If you need to take a break from true stories and self-help books, these two stories of divorce and love can help put a smile on your face.

  • Eat, Pray, Love

    The classic favorite, Eat, Pray, Love, is the mostly true account of author Elizabeth Gilbert’s divorce. While her radical approach to divorce is not to be construed as advice or a healthy way to deal with your divorce, this tale of her emotional and literal journey can serve as needed inspiration and humor during your divorce.

  • Heartburn

    Nora Ephron takes the ridiculous even further in her book, Heartburn. This story about fictional character Rachel and her cheating ex-husband, Mark, is light and full of comedy but may not be for everyone at all stages of divorce.
    As previously mentioned, these two books are intended for recreational reading only and not to be taken as suggestions for handling your divorce. If you are looking for more advice, please read this article on healthy ways to deal with the stress of divorce.

Myers Law Firm: Compassionate, Dedicated Divorce Attorneys for Clients in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County

Reading can be an excellent resource for helping you cope with the turmoil of your divorce, but if you need help with the legal aspects of your divorce, please give Myers Law Firm a call. Our skilled and experienced divorce attorneys can help you handle the legal aspects of your divorce and will work with you every step of the way.

Please contact us today by calling (888) 376-ATTY or completing this brief form to schedule your free consultation.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

We are committed to continuing to serve our clients’ legal needs

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We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

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Online Accounts During Divorce

A divorce can take an emotional and financial toll, regardless of who initiated the separation in the first place. And while it’s only natural and healthy to seek advice and emotional support during your divorce, it’s important to only do so privately with friends and family whom you can trust not to betray any sensitive information to your spouse — and even with them, you need to be careful.

Your online accounts contain all sorts of information that could be potentially used against you during divorce proceedings, which is why preventing your spouse from making unwanted intrusions into your sensitive online information is critical during a difficult divorce. And it’s also not unheard of for an angry, vindictive spouse to resort to identity theft to try and punish their ex.

Speak with an experienced divorce attorney for help maintaining the integrity of your online accounts, or continue reading for some helpful tips to get you started.

Change Your Passwords and Settings to Protect Your Online Privacy and Set Up Two-Step Verification

Ensuring all your sensitive digital information stays secure from your spouse can be a daunting task. An experienced divorce attorney can help you determine which passwords, logins, and settings need to be changed and updated, but you can start by looking at these key areas.

  • Communication and Location Services

One of your first priorities should be ensuring that your spouse cannot see communications like emails and text messages. At a minimum, you need to change the passwords for any email accounts and change the unlock codes for your phone and other devices.
Another major factor to consider is your spouse’s access to location services. Some people have apps for their phone or vehicle that allow certain people access to their current location. Some of these apps have seemingly innocuous functions, like helping you find a misplaced phone or laptop. However, just like the social media tracking services mentioned below, anything and everything that can be used to track your current or previous locations (including GPS logs in your car), needs to be disabled if possible.

  • Financial Logins

You’ll need to ask your attorney about how to handle shared bank accounts during a divorce, but there are a few other finance-related items that you can look at on your own. These include PayPal and other cash-sharing apps, your personal online banking login, and any long-term financial planning services, all of which you should secure with new passwords and security questions.

  • Social Media Accounts

Make sure to change your social media passwords so that your spouse cannot access your accounts and post as you. Besides that first step, here are some extra security measures and tips that can help you maintain your privacy on social media sites like Facebook.

First, make it more difficult for your spouse to view your posts by unfriending them and anyone who might help them view your profile. Then, change all your account privacy settings so only friends can view your content. However, understand that this doesn’t mean your social media posts can’t be used against you; your spouse’s attorney may still be able to access them and present them in court.

Because social media posts are never truly private, your best option is to not post at all. At the very least, do not post anything about the divorce, what you are doing, or where you have been. You never know how your spouse’s lawyer may try and manipulate the harmless post of the pasta you ordered last night or your fun night out with friends into something they can use against you.

Second, disable all location tracking services. Some social media accounts have options to let friends access your current location. Even if you trust your friends, you need to turn these trackers off.

RELATED ARTICLE: Yes, Your Facebook Posts Can Affect Your Divorce Case

  • Shared Services and Storage

Not only could your spouse rack up bills through your Amazon account, but shared movie and music streaming channels like Netflix or Spotify can provide another avenue for your spouse and their attorneys to keep an eye on what you are up to. Apple/iTunes IDs, iCloud accounts, Google Photo storage, and online shopping accounts are also all potential liabilities that need to be secured.

  • Two-Step Verification

At the same time you are changing passwords, you should set up an extra layer of security known as two-step verification. This setting makes it so that any new logins or password changes will require a code (usually sent by text message to your mobile phone) to complete the login. This prevents your ex from guessing a password for a site and getting in without you knowing.

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Don’t Delete Information or Posts You Have Already Made

Remember that although you should always secure your accounts and devices, you shouldn’t delete information. Deleting content like social media posts can sometimes count as evidence tampering, and the court won’t look kindly on it. Also, once you delete information, your ex and their attorney can argue that whatever damaging claim they’re trying to prove about you is true and point to your deletions as proof. Protect all your personal data by changing passwords and settings and turning off location services, but never delete anything without first speaking to an experienced divorce attorney.

RELATED ARTICLE: 8 Healthy Ways to Deal With the Stress of Divorce

Your Online Privacy Protection Checklist

When you start securing your data and sensitive information during a divorce, you might be surprised to realize the extent of your relevant personal files, accounts, and communications. Here’s a quick checklist for double-checking that you have locked your spouse out of accounts that are easy to forget.

  1. Mobile apps: Your smartphone and other mobile devices can be a massive liability during a divorce since many apps keep you logged in by default. Look at your phone, tablet, and even TV apps and double-check that your spouse does not have access.
  2. Bookmarks and favorite sites: Check your frequently visited sites and the bookmarks saved on your computer. Do any of them require logins? Is your spouse able to access these accounts? Will they be able to guess your password because it’s your dog’s name?
  3. Recent spending history: Check your various bank and credit card statements for the last couple of months. These statements show you all the places you spent money recently, so they can remind you of online retailers and other logins that you may need to change.

Once you’re confident that you have a comprehensive list of all your online accounts and logins, consider using a secure password manager such as 1Password, LastPass, or BitWarden. Not only do these password managers store your passwords securely, but many will generate secure passwords for you.

Myers Law Firm: Experienced North Carolina Divorce Attorneys

If you’re going through a difficult divorce, you need to take steps to maintain the integrity of your online accounts and prevent your spouse from making unwanted intrusions into your sensitive data. At Myers Law Firm, we can help guide you through the process of securing your accounts and protecting your privacy so you can go forward with confidence and peace of mind.

Contact us today at 1-888-376-2889 or fill out our quick and easy online contact form to schedule your initial consultation and get advice from one of our experienced divorce lawyers.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.

Contact Myers Law Firm

We are committed to continuing to serve our clients’ legal needs

Single Divider

We are able to meet with clients and hold consultations with prospective clients via telephone or video conference. If you need to contact us, please do not hesitate; we are happy to speak with you about your situation, your needs, and how we can help.

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Business Owners and Divorce

Getting divorced is difficult for everyone, but it becomes even more complicated for business owners. Between understanding what property is subject to division and protecting your assets, there are numerous legal issues to consider when facing a divorce in North Carolina. Fortunately, there are measures business owners can take to protect their business in the event of a divorce.

Keep reading to learn more about your options.

Protect Your Business in Advance

The best way to protect your business is to take proactive measures before you get married. No one expects to get divorced when they’re engaged or first married, but small business owners should consider taking steps that protect their company before marriage, if possible.

  • Build Your Business Strategically

    As you launch your business, consider building in provisions that protect the company. Creating an LLC (limited liability corporation) or C-corporation allows business owners to title real estate and property to the business. While your interest in the business may be marital property, creating a formal structure helps prevent individual assets owned by the business from being subject to division in the divorce process.

  • Agree to a Prenup

    Creating a prenuptial agreement might seem cold at first glance. However, this binding contract is an effective way to protect your business in the event of a divorce. This agreement, which gets signed before the wedding, outlines what happens to property, businesses, assets, and income if the couple separates or divorces. Prenuptial agreements are especially useful if both spouses are small business owners, together or separately.

    RELATED BLOG ARTICLE: How Do Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements Affect Divorce?