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

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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

Temporary Parenting Arrangement in NC

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In North Carolina, Temporary Parenting Arrangements (TPA’s) are temporary child custody orders typically used as a way to bridge the gap between the current time and the time at which the parties are able to schedule a trial or reach agreement in regards to permanent child custody.  Depending on the NC county in which you live in, it can often take as long as 8-12 months to get your day in court for a child custody determination, whereas you can usually get in front of a judge for a TPA in 6-8 weeks, sometimes quicker.

Parties can enter into a TPA order by consent at any time during a child custody proceeding, but depending on the county in NC, may or may not be able to put the matter on in front of a judge.  If your NC county allows for a TPA, you still may need to meet certain requirements prior to being granted a hearing.

There are a number of unique facts regarding TPA’s, including:

  • TPA’s are entered without prejudice to either party
  • TPA hearings are typically short in nature, usually lasting between 30 minutes and 1 hour
  • A TPA may become a permanent child custody order automatically due to the passage of time in certain situations
  • Some counties allow affidavits in support of TPA motions and hearings

For a more in depth explanation on TPA’s and the information provided here, please view our full blog on temporary parenting arrangements in North Carolina.  Located in Mecklenburg or Cabarrus county in NC and need assistance with a temporary parenting arrangement or other item related to a child custody dispute?  We can help.  Contact us with the information below to speak with an attorney today.

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

 

Property Division in NC: Answers to 5 Common Questions

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One of our Charlotte, NC divorce lawyers has answered a list of 5 questions about dividing property that we are commonly asked by separating spouses: If I divorce, will my spouse get half of everything?  May one spouse get more than half of everything? If an asset is held in my name only, will that asset automatically be 100% mine?  How do we split the marital home?  How do we create an enforceable agreement for property division?

The process by which North Carolina courts classify and distribute property is known as equitable distribution.  In short, the answers to the questions above are as follows:

NC courts assume that a 50/50 split of all marital and divisible assets is fair unless there is evidence showing otherwise.  However, property classified as separate will typically go 100% to the spouse to whom the separate property belongs. One spouse may receive a greater than 50% share of the assets but most show that he or she is entitled to a greater share based on the factors listed in NCGS 50-20(c).  The distribution of assets in North Carolina has more to do with the source of funds used to purchase the asset rather than whose name the asset is held in.  As such, assets titled in one parties name only, such as a bank funded using marital funds, will typically be split 50/50 between the spouses by a court.  Dividing the marital home can be difficult as there are often emotional attachments involved.  The parties must decide whether to keep or sell the house, who will remain in the house if the parties decide not to sell, and how to distribute any equity fairly between the parties if the property is marital in nature.  The terms that spouses agree to regarding property division upon separation may be made enforceable by creating a separation agreement or consent order, or if the spouses cannot reach agreement, litigation may be required and a court will eventually enter an order dictating how property should be divided.

For more in depth answers to these questions, visit our full blog of answers to 5 common questions about property division in North Carolina.

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

 

 

Denying Visitation in Child Custody Matters

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A common issue in child custody disputes in North Carolina involves one parent denying the other parent visitation with the child.  Denial of visitation may occur for many reasons, sometimes justifiable, other times not.  It is important to consult an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction when these situations arise, as the legal ramifications and potential recourse that each parent has will vary widely depending on the specific facts of each particular case.  Two of the biggest factors to consider in all visitation denial cases are the reason for the denial, and whether there is a court order in place outlining child visitation between the parties.  Depending on these factors, each party may have a number of legal options, including filing for: contempt, modification of child custody, a temporary parenting arrangement, or emergency custody in extreme situations.

For a more in-depth analysis on this topic, view our Discussion on Denying Parental Visitation in Child Custody Disputes.

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

 

 

Do Child Support Arrears Go Away in NC?

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Child support arrears are past due child support payment owed by the payor of child support to the recipient.  In North Carolina, once child support payments are due, they become vested arrears if not paid.  These past due payments can continue to accumulate over a period of many years, and may result in tens of thousands of dollars in child support arrears.  Once these arrears are vested, they may only be forgiven in a few specific situations, including: (1) by the recipient of the child support agreeing to forgive the arrears through a court order; (2) by prospectively reducing a child support amount that was past due based on the filing date of a modification of child support; or (3) in situations when a person was precluded from filing a modification of child support due to extreme situations.  Given these limited scenarios, it is very important that a payor file to modify child support immediately upon a substantial change of circumstances that would warrant a decrease in child support.

For a more in-depth discussion of these items, view our full blog on this topic discussing scenarios where child support arrears may be forgiven in North Carolina.

Written by Valerie and Bill Hunter
Attorneys and Co-Founders
Hunter & Hein, Attorneys at Law, PLLC
704-412-1442
www.hunterheinattorneys.com

 

Six Things You May Not Know About Domestic Violence Actions in NC

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Domestic violence actions are taken seriously in North Carolina by our judicial and law enforcement systems.  Our lawyers handle domestic violence related cases in Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties, and have compiled a list of six things that most people are not likely aware of when it comes to domestic violence actions:  (1) criminal charges and/or civil protective orders may be brought for the same incident; (2) victims/plaintiffs are not able to give defendant’s permission to violate the terms of a protective order or no-contact order; (3) a defendant may still be arrested even if the police are not called out during the domestic violence related incident; (4) a magistrate cannot set bond until a defendant has been held for 48 hours; (5) physical contact is not necessary for a finding of domestic violence; (6) judges tend to rule a bit more conservatively when it comes to domestic violence cases.

For more information on each of these individual topics, view our full blog discussing 6 Things You May Not Know About Domestic Violence Actions in NC.

 

Written by Valerie and Bill Hunter
Co-Founders and Attorneys
Hunter & Hein, Attorneys at Law, PLLC
www.hunterheinattorneys.com
704-412-1442

5 Common Issues That Newly Separated Parents Face (and how to avoid them)

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Charlotte, NC based child custody and divorce lawyer, Valerie Hunter, shares thoughts and potential solutions to the most common co-parenting issues that she encounters between newly separated parents.  The problems include disagreements on visitation time with children, bringing new romantic interests around children, speaking to children about the specifics of breakups, and the cohesiveness of discipline, routines, and schedules between two households.

The common thread among the tips on avoiding conflict?  Open communication between the parents and keeping the best interests of the children in mind at all times.  For a full discussion on each topic, view the complete blog, 5 Common Issues Facing Newly Separated Parents (and how to avoid).

Have questions about child custody and/or divorce?  We can help. To speak to one of our attorneys, call 704-412-1442.  Our attorneys represent clients in the Charlotte, NC area, including Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties.

For addtional information on family law, divorce, and child custody in North Carolina, vist our website:  www.hunterheinattorneys.com