What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is attempting to cause or intentionally causing bodily injury or placing the victim in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. Continued harassment can constitute domestic violence if it causes substantial emotional distress. There needs to be a current or former relationship between the victim and abuser such as spouses, parent / child, household members, or boyfriend / girlfriend.
You may include a request to change your name in your divorce complaint. The name change can be included in the divorce judgment. You cannot change your name to any name in this process - you may only resume your maiden name. You may also resume a former marital name under certain circumstances. In the alternative, you may make a request to resume a former name after the divorce has been entered by filing the appropriate application with the clerk, and paying a fee.
What is Mediation?
Mediation is when a neutral third party helps facilitate an agreement between the parties. The mediator does not make decisions. The parties make the decisions, but the mediator helps them along. You can do private mediation before or after a complaint has been filed. You can address custody, child support, alimony, and property issues in mediation. Mediation is generally less expensive and not as time-consuming as court. The parties control the outcome. The entire process can be settled in one day, and you can leave a private mediation with a binding settlement document. The process is civil and dignified. It can set the tone for how the parties deal with each other from that point forward. If the parties are able to resolve the issues incident to their separation at mediation, typically they work together and treat each other better in subsequent dealings with children or otherwise. You do not necessarily need a lawyer for mediation, but one can help guide you in making educated decisions. A non-lawyer mediator will not know the law, or be permitted in providing you with legal advice. Without adequate representation, you could lose or waive rights you did not know you had - or agree to something that may not be in your best interests.
North Carolina state law requires that child support be determined by a formula through the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines. These guidelines assume that the child should receive a proportional amount of each parent’s monthly income as if they lived together. Thee guidelines are intended to meet the needs of the children, while remaining fair to both parties.
Child support orders specify the amount of money that a non-custodial parent must pay. The formula used to calculate the amount of support necessary involves two steps.
These guidelines also consider other biological children each party may have, as well as child care costs and medical insurance costs for the child(ren) in the order.
You should also know that:
How does the process work?
The non-custodial parents are served with a Civil Summons and Complaint. They can respond to these documents in one of the following ways:
If the non-custodial parent does not respond or appear in court, the court will accept the information contained in the Complaint to Establish Support as true and will issue an order to pay child support based on that information.
It is always easier for everyone if both parties work together to establish a child support order. By reaching an agreement that is based on the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines, a court hearing is not required.
Applying for Child Support with Child Support Enforcement (CSE): Here is What you Need to Know
The Mecklenburg County Office of Child Support Enforcement (CSE) works to ensure that both parties are responsible for the financial support of their children. The CSE offers services regardless of income.
What services are provided by CSE?
It is recommended that you contact a private attorney to discuss concerns that may seem similar to child support, such as custody, visitation, or spousal support. In order to receive services from the CSE, you must complete an application. The application is available online at ChildSupportEZapply.com.
What do I need to apply for these services?
Once you have completed all sections and submitted all required documents, the CSE will review your application and decide the appropriate course of action. It is important to understand that by submitting an application to the CSE, you are agreeing to respond to all requests for further information, appear for interviews and court hearing, submit to any paternity testing, notify the office of any changes in your status, remain cooperative, and stay involved in your case through the entire process.
You have to file a complaint (lawsuit) seeking a Domestic Violence Protective Order (otherwise known as a restraining order or as a "50B"). If it is at night or on the weekend, you do this through the magistrate's office. If it is during the week, you do it through the civil clerk of court. In the complaint, you set out the details of the act of violence or threat of violence that caused you to seek the Domestic Violence Protective Order. You will then appear before the judge or magistrate to describe what happened. If the judge or magistrate determines you are entitled to an emergency Ex Parte Protective Order, it will be issued at that time. Your abuser is not notified of or present for the emergency hearing. The emergency order is valid until there can be a hearing on the issue - at that hearing, the abuser will be present and have the opportunity to put on a defense. This hearing is normally held within 10 days. If the judge determines at the full hearing that you are entitled to a Domestic Violence Protective Order, one will be issued. This order will be valid for one year, but may be renewed at the end of one year for an additional time of up to two years.
What is the Effect of a Divorce?
There are many important effects of a divorce. First, the entry of a divorce cuts off your right to alimony and property division. If those claims have not been resolved in a valid and binding Agreement or properly filed with the court prior to the entry of the divorce judgment, they are lost forever. The loss of those claims can be devastating. If you have a claim for alimony or if you or your spouse acquired property during the marriage (house, cars, bank accounts, retirement), you need to take action before your divorce is granted to protect those claims. Second, the entry of a divorce changes your tax filing status, which may be more or less of a benefit to you. Third, the entry of divorce enables you to remarry. Fourth, the entry of a divorce cuts off your rights to inherit from your spouse. Fifth, it can alter the way your house is owned if you own a house with your spouse.
Marriage and Addiction
When addiction strikes, it can have detrimental effects on a marriage, any children involved, and extended family members. According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), fighting and stress caused by financial and emotional issues can set the couple up for a vicious cycle of substance abuse to cope with tension created by increased conflict. Domestic violence is often an issue in instances where alcohol abuse or substance abuse is present. Leaving a loved one due to substance abuse is difficult because of the years spent invested in building a relationship. Fortunately, there is hope for salvaging a relationship through the assistance of therapy and treatment.
Signs of Substance Abuse
The first step in repairing the damage created by substance abuse is to identify abuse as the root cause for marital problems. It is an emotional and cognitive struggle to come to the realization that a person’s loved one has resorted to using drugs or alcohol to the point of addiction. While it is nearly impossible to come up with a comprehensive list including all of a the signs that determine whether a spouse is suffering from an addition, below is a list of signs that can help determine if a person is abusing drugs or alcohol:
According to the AAMTF, substance abuse by a partner damages a relationship and these issues need to be treated too. If the underlying issues remain unchecked, it can lead to a relapse. These issues do not simply disappear once an individual has stopped drinking or the drug use has stopped. Eliminating drinking or drug use is only the starting point, once sobriety is attained, the presence of a supportive caring relationship can be one of the strongest factors in sustaining sobriety.
Depending on the ruling of the court, an alimony order can be for a set number of years or even life. In order to modify spousal support, whether that be alimony or post-separation support, significant changes are normally necessary. The termination of an alimony order is automatic upon the death of either party, remarriage of the dependent spouse, or cohabitation by the dependent spouse. That being said, what determines cohabitation in North Carolina?
According to North Carolina state law, cohabitation requires:
It is important to take notice that, although the court requires two people to essentially be living together in order to terminate an alimony order, that does not mean that they must be retaining the same residence. The dependent spouse and third party may each retain a separate residence and still be considered living together.
The second criteria the court will look to is whether the dependent and third party act like a married couple. There are numerous facts considered by the North Carolina courts. There is no one item that is required or determinative.
Some factors considered in determining cohabitation:
Although cohabitation is defined by statute, it is often a source of litigation in court. Seeing as the dependent receiving alimony has an incentive to alter behavior to avoid losing their monthly check, these types of cases may get a bit grey at times. This may include keeping a separate residence, limiting the nights spent together per week, not keeping their belongings at the other party’s place, not getting engaged, etc. This behavior can make it quite frustrating for the person ordered to pay. Often, testimony from a private investigator, phone records, and bank records help to establish cohabitation.
You have to file a complaint (lawsuit) asking for a divorce. You cannot file a divorce complaint until after you and you spouse have been separated for one year. You have to serve your spouse with the complaint. Service is usually accomplished by certified mail or Sheriff. Then you will need a hearing in front of a judge. You may or may not have to be present at this hearing depending on what county you file in, and whether you are represented by an attorney. The judge has to enter a Judgment declaring you are divorced. You are not divorced until the judge signs a Judgment and the clerk file stamps it.