Seven Facts About NC Child Support

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Child Support can be a complicated topic under North Carolina law.  If facing a child support issue, it is important to seek competent legal assistance in your area. Please note that the following is not meant to provide legal advice and should not be relied upon without consultation with an attorney.  One of our NC child support lawyers recently wrote a blog on the topic which discusses 7 important facts about child support in North Carolina.  In short, child support and child custody are independent matters; the NC Child Support Guidelines are used in most cases; there is a child support calculator that may be used for guidelines cases; the guidelines presume that the recipient of child support will claim the child on his or her taxes; incomes of spouses of parents involved in a child support dispute are not typically taken into consideration; child support can be awarded retroactively; and paying too little child support can open the payor up to paying for the recipient’s attorney fees.  For more on these topics, click on the link above to view our full blog.

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Hunter & Hein, Attorneys at Law, PLLC
704-412-1442
contact@hunterheinattorneys.com

What is Supervised Visitation?

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Supervised visitation in child custody disputes may be appropriate in scenarios in which a child’s interests are best served by limiting visitation with a particular person by requiring that a third party be present during custodial time.  In a recent blog, one of our Charlotte child custody lawyers discusses some of the basics of supervised visitation, such as when it is appropriate, how long it lasts, who may supervise the visitation, and where the supervision may occur.

In short, supervised visitation serves the purpose limiting a parent’s right to time with a child without ending visitation all together.  We most commonly see supervised visitation ordered in scenarios in which a parent has not been present in the life of the child for some time (as a means to re-introduce the parties in a controlled environment), or in scenarios in which a party’s behavior has somehow put the child at risk of harm (as a means to protect the child).  Depending on the circumstances, supervision is typically conducted by a family member, friend, or professional, and may occur at a party’s home, in a public place, or in a more controlled environment such as the office of a professional.  Supervised visitation may be ordered on a temporary basis, as part of a stair-step plan (eventually transitioning to unsupervised visitation), or permanently.

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Hunter & Hein, Attorneys at Law, PLLC

Child Custody: Sole Custody v. Primary Custody v. Joint Custody

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There are three main types of physical and legal custody arrangements in child custody orders: Sole custody, primary custody, and joint custody.  Physical custody obviously addresses the actual physical location of the minor child.  Legal Custody address decision making rights in relation to the minor child.

Sole custody arrangements usually involve one parent having 100% of the physical time with the minor child and 100% decision making authority.  Parents have a strong constitutionally protected right to time with their biological children, so a court will not normally enter a sole custody order without findings of unfitness in regards to the non-custodial parent.

Primary physical custody involves one parent having the majority of the time with the minor child, with the other parent having a lesser amount of time, often every other weekend.  Primary legal custody gives one parent final decision making authority but may require that parent to consult with the other parent and make an attempt to reach agreement on major decisions.

Joint physical custody involves the splitting sharing time with the minor child more equally but not necessarily 50/50.  Joint legal custody gives the parents equal decision making authority but may often give on parent the tie-breaker or refer the parties to mediation in the event of a deadlock on a decision.

For more, view our full blog on the topic of common physical and legal child custody arrangements.

Posted by:

Bill Hunter
Hunter & Hein, Attorneys at Law, PLLC

Miscellaneous Child Custody Provisions

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A child custody court order is designed to specifically lay out the rights and obligations of parents as they relate to the minor child involved in a custody dispute.  A child custody order contains a number of provisions related to the legal and physical custody of the minor child involved.  In addition, a custody order may also contain a number of additional provisions that speak to miscellaneous rights and obligations of the parties involved, such as provisions that: discourage negative talk about the other parent in front of the child; provide equal access to medical and school records to each parent; require each parent to have reasonable phone access to the child when the child is with the other parent; and require the parties to keep each other informed of their respective contact info;

For more, view our full blog on the topic in which our Charlotte child custody lawyers pulled 20 common child custody order provisions.  We find that some provisions are standard across most custody orders while each case also typically has it’s own specialized provisions to fit the individual needs to the parties involved.  We also find that more detail and artful drafting on the front end can lead to less conflict and confusion down the road for the parties involved.

Posted by Bill Hunter
Hunter & Hein, Attorneys at Law, PLLC

Questions to Ask When Hiring an Attorney

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Hiring an attorney is a big investment for most people.  As such, it is important to ask questions on the front end to understand how your relationship will work, and to set expectations moving forward.  The following are some suggestions as a starting point for your list of questions:

How much can you afford to spend?

How experienced is your attorney and does his or her experience match the type of service you need?

How complex is your case and who will actually be completing the work on your case?

What is the estimate of the cost of your case and what type of billing options does the firm offer?

How fast can work begin on your case?

How long will it take to complete all of the work on your case?

What are the possible outcomes in my case and what is the most likely outcome?

For a discussion on these questions and a few others, view our full blog on the topic of questions to consider when hiring a lawyer.

Posted by Bill Hunter
Hunter & Hein, Attorneys at Law, PLLC
704-412-1442

 

Emergency Child Custody Actions in NC

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Litigating a child custody action in the state of North Carolina is not a quick process, and will typically take between 4 and 12 months from start to finish depending on the circumstances of the parties and the county in which the dispute is handled.  When an emergency situation arises, 4 to 12 months is obviously way too long to wait.  As such, North Carolina statutes provide for immediate access to the courts in extreme situations, such as when a child is at risk of substantial bodily injury, sexual abuse, or removal from the state of North Carolina.  If facing one of these situations, it is important to contact a child custody lawyer in your local area immediately to discuss your potential options and the procedures involved.

In short, an emergency action is typically brought by filing a motion which outlines the details of the emergency situation and the justification for emergency action.  A judge will immediately, or shortly after filing, review the motion and decide whether to grant an immediate order with a hearing (to be held within 10 days of the order being granted), deny the motion altogether, or deny the motion but grant a hearing on the matter.  Each county may have differing local rules dictating procedural specifics relating to emergency actions, so it is important to be familiar with your local jurisdiction.  For more, view our full blog on emergency child custody matters in North Carolina.

If located in Mecklenburg or Cabarrus counties, our child custody lawyers can help.  Give us a call at 704-412-1442 to speak to an attorney about your situation.

Written by:

Bill Hunter
Hunter & Hein, Attorneys at Law, PLLC
704-412-1442
contact@hunterheinattorneys.com

Steps in a NC Child Custody Case

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In North Carolina, the exact flow of a child custody case may vary greatly depending on the circumstances involved and the county in which the action is taking place.  However, and generally speaking, a custody case will flow through several different phases.

The first stage of a child custody case typically involves the pleadings, which are the written answers, counterclaims, replies, and motions which outline the positions of the parties and set the course for an eventual trial.  The pleading stage typically  last anywhere from 1 to 4 months.

Once the pleadings are complete, the discovery phase begins, during which the parties gather information, either formally, through mechanisms such as depositions, interrogatories, or requests for production of documents, or informally.

Mediation typically occurs during the discovery phase.  All parties to child custody disputes in North Carolina must complete court ordered mediation prior to heading to trial.  Once mediation is complete, the parties will typically schedule their case for trial in front of a family law judge for a final determination.

For a more in-depth look at these steps, view our full blog on procedure in NC child custody cases.

Posted by Bill Hunter
Hunter & Hein, Attorneys at Law, PLLC
704-412-1442
contact@hunterheinattorneys.com

Is it Abandonment in NC if I Leave my Spouse and Move Out of Our House?

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Our Charlotte divorce lawyers are regularly asked about abandonment by clients contemplating separation and divorce.  The concept of abandonment creates a great deal of confusion for people unfamiliar with the intricacies of North Carolina divorce law…and for good reason.  NC law requires that spouses be separated (living apart under separate roofs with the intent to remain permanently separated) for one year prior to filing for divorce.  However, NC law also provides that one spouse may be deemed to have abandoned the other spouse if that spouse moves from the marital residence without the consent of the non-moving spouse, for no good cause, and with the intent for the move to be permanent.

So how do parties separate without fear of one party abandoning the other?  There are several ways to potentially avoid or limit the viability of an abandonment claim: (1) sign a non-abandonment agreement; (2) get written consent from the non-moving spouse; or (3) make sure that the move is for good cause.

There are several important considerations to keep in mind regarding the topic of abandonment: (1) an fault spouse who receives consent to move out does not escape a potential abandonment claim based on the consent only; (2) NC recognizes the crime of domestic criminal trespass so moving spouses should be familiar with our laws prior to returning home; (3)

For more detail on all of the information above, check out our full blog on abandonment in North Carolina divorce law.

Hunter & Hein, Attorneys at Law, PLLC
704-412-1442
contact@hunterheinattorneys.com

Dividing the Marital House When Separating in North Carolina

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Our Charlotte, NC based divorce lawyers are regularly asked questions about dividing the marital home when meeting with clients going through a separation.  Due to emotional attachment and financial value, the marital residence is often one of the most hotly contested property items to divide between couples that are separating.  Typically, couples will fall into 3 main categories as to how they deal with their marital house during the divorce process: keep the house with one party moving out, sell the house, or both parties dig their heels in and refuse to move.

The first two scenarios are typically relatively easy to resolve through a properly drafted and executed separation agreement or through the court process of equitable distribution.  Despite the typically non-contentious nature of the first two options, there are still a number of items that need to be considered when one party remains in the house or when the parties decide to sell the house.  Whether drafting an agreement or litigating the matter at a court hearing, it is important to consult with an attorney when negotiating, drafting agreements, or litigating matters related to substantial assets.

When two parties dig their heels in and cannot reach agreement on selling or who will move out of the marital home, litigation may be required.  North Carolina laws provide a few different legal paths in this situation, including: one party moving out and filing for equitable distribution asking for possession of the home, filing for divorce from bed and board and asking for the ejectment of the other spouse, or if domestic violence is involved, filing for a domestic violence protective order and asking that a judge award possession of the home to the aggrieved party.

For more on this topic, view our full blog, on the topic of dividing the marital home upon divorce in North Carolina.

Hunter & Hein, Attorneys at Law, PLLC
704-412-1442
contact@hunterheinattorneys.com
http://www.hunterheinattorneys.com

 

Jurisdiction in Interstate Child Custody Matters

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Our Charlotte, NC based child custody lawyers regularly receive phone calls from parties involved in interstate child custody disputes.  From a legal perspective, the first question that needs to be answered is “which state has jurisdiction over the custody case?”  Any time one or more parties and/or a child move to different states, there is likely to be a question over jurisdiction.  Only a court having proper jurisdiction may enter a valid child custody order.

The Uniform Child Custody and Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (the UCCJEA) provides a number of guidelines and rules regarding jurisdiction in interstate child custody matters. Our most recent blog addresses how jurisdiction is typically handled in initial child custody determinations, in modifications of existing custody orders, and in emergency situations.

In short, the “home state” of the child, which is the state in which the child has resided in for the six months preceding a child custody dispute, will typically be the state with jurisdiction in an initial child custody determination (i.e., when there is no prior child custody order in place).  A state that enters an initial custody order will typically maintain continuing and exclusive jurisdiction to modify that order so long as at least one of the parties or the child continue to reside in the issuing state.  Finally, any state (regardless of whether they would normally have jurisdiction) may have jurisdiction to enter a temporary emergency order in extreme situations which present a risk of harm to the minor child involved.  These are all general rules with exceptions.  For more, read our full blog on the topic of jurisdiction in interstate child custody disputes.

If involved in a child custody dispute, it is important to contact an attorney licensed in your local jurisdiction.  This article is meant to be a very brief overview of a complex subject, and is not meant to provide legal advice.

Written by Bill Hunter
Co-Founder and Attorney
Hunter & Hein, Attorneys at Law, PLLC
contact@hunterheinattorneys.com
704-412-1442