I’m the Father?!
For a couple who has been trying to get pregnant, the sentence “you’re the father” will often be received as exciting news. But for all of the frat boys, famous rappers, and casual daters of the world, this may be your worst nightmare. So, what do you do if a paternity action is brought against you?
What is a paternity action?
A paternity action is a legal suit that is used to establish the paternity of a child that can be brought by the mother or a state agency if the mother is receiving state financial assistance. In this proceeding, the judge will hear evidence as to why the mother believes that you are the father of her child and will often order genetic testing. This testing will be done by a laboratory chosen by the court. If the genetic match is 97% or higher, you are the father!
What does it mean to be the legal father?
Establishing legal paternity comes with several obligations and benefits, including paying child support, and having the right to visit with your child.
What should my next steps be?
If a paternity action is brought against you, you will have the opportunity to file an answer with the court stating why you believe you are not the father. You should contact Adkins Law ASAP to set up a consult to help you through this process.
Domestic violence is far more common than we know. It is a problem that affects people regardless of race, gender, sexuality or socioeconomic status. If you or someone you love is being abused, it is important to come forward to seek help.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is causing, or attempting to cause, bodily injury to the victim. It can also be placing the victim in fear of imminent, serious bodily injury. This may include continued harassment if it causes severe emotional distress.
It is important to remember that domestic violence can only occur between people who have a current or former relationship. This includes spouses, household members, parent/ child or boyfriend/ girlfriend.
What to do if you are a victim of domestic violence
Your safety is the biggest priority—get yourself to safety and call 911. If you do not have a safe place, you can seek help at a shelter.
From there, you have the option of seeking a restraining order and/ or filing criminal charges. Criminal charges are recommended because the criminal system has some procedures in place that the civil system does not, like probation and violent offender programs. If the abuser is found guilty at trial, then the terms and conditions of his or her sentence depend on various factors including what crimes the abuser has committed against you and prior offenses
How does domestic violence effect custody and child support?
It is rare for those issues to be handled in the civil domestic violence process of getting a restraining order. Many judges prefer that issues of child support and custody be handled in a separate action. You will need to file a separate complaint seeking custody and child support.
What about alimony and property division?
The judge in your domestic violence can only deal with these issues on a very limited basis, such as addressing temporary distribution of vehicles and the home. Many judges prefer that these issues be handled in a separate action. You will need to file a separate complaint alimony and equitable division.
Domestic violence proceedings can be confusing and time consuming, especially when dealing with other family law issues. Contact Adkins Law today to set up a consultation and decide your next steps.
In preparing answers to requests for admissions, the answers must be made in good faith and answer the request in detail. Answers that do not accomplish this may be stricken at the court’s discretion and sanctions applied. The following excerpted Rules and cases support the above conclusion. If the defendant in your case offered only blanket denials, and you are able to provide documentation showing that his answers were not complete or made in good faith, it is likely that a judge would be amenable to striking the answers, thus making them admissions, and imposing sanctions such as attorney’s fees. If the opposing party has a good faith belief that their denials were correct, then they will likely not be sanctioned. Of particular interest in Rule 37 (c), which explains the grounds under which a judge may choose to sanction for failure to admit.
NC Rules of Civil Procedure
If objection is made, the reasons therefor shall be stated. The answer shall specifically deny the matter or set forth in detail the reasons why the answering party cannot truthfully admit or deny the matter. A denial shall fairly meet the substance of the requested admission, and when good faith requires that a party qualify his answer or deny only a part of the matter of which an admission is requested, he shall specify so much of it as is true and qualify or deny the remainder.
If the court determines that an answer does not comply with the requirements of this rule, it may order either that the matter is admitted or that an amended answer be served. The court may, in lieu of these orders, determine that final disposition of the request be made at a pretrial conference or at a designated time prior to trial. The provisions of Rule 37(a)(4) apply to the award of expenses incurred in relation to the motion.
N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. 1A-1, 36
Rule 37 (c)
Expenses on failure to admit.--If a party fails to admit the genuineness of any document or the truth of any matter as requested under Rule 36, and if the party requesting the admissions thereafter proves the genuineness of the document or the truth of the matter, the requesting party may apply to the court for an order requiring the other party to pay to him or her the reasonable expenses incurred in making that proof, including reasonable attorney's fees. The court shall make the order unless it finds that (i) the request was held objectionable pursuant to Rule 36(a), or (ii) the admission sought was of no substantial importance, or (iii) the party failing to admit had reasonable ground to believe that he or she might prevail on the matter, or (iv) there was other good reason for the failure to admit.
N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. 1A-1, 37
Rule 8 (c)
(b) Defenses; form of denials. -- A party shall state in short and plain terms his defenses to each claim asserted and shall admit or deny the averments upon which the adverse party relies. If he is without knowledge or information sufficient to form a belief as to the truth of an averment, he shall so state and this has the effect of a denial. Denials shall fairly meet the substance of the averments denied. When a pleader intends in good faith to deny only a part of or a qualification of an averment, he shall specify so much of it as is true and material and shall deny only the remainder. Unless the pleader intends in good faith to controvert all the averments of the preceding pleading, he may make his denials as specific denials of designated averments or paragraphs, or he may generally deny all the averments except such designated averments or paragraphs as he expressly admits; but, when he does so intend to controvert all its averments, he may do so by general denial subject to the obligations set forth in Rule 11.
N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. 1A-1, 8
Wachovia Bank of N. Carolina, N.A. v. Bob Dunn Jaguar, Inc., 117 N.C. App. 165, 174, 450 S.E.2d 527, 533 (1994)
In North Carolina, when a married man’s wife has a child, he is automatically presumed to be the father, and has all of the same rights to custody as the mother. When a couple is unmarried, the situation becomes a little tricky, and requires that the father establishes his paternity.
Paternity can be established in several ways, the first of which is an Affidavit of Paternity. This is a legal document signed at or near the time of the child’s birth in the presence of a witness, affirming that you are the father of the child.
If an Affidavit of Paternity is not signed, a Paternity Action can be filed with the court. In this case, the judge will often order genetic testing. If you match at 97% or higher you are legally considered the father. A paternity action can be filed by either parent or by Child Support Services if the mother is supported by the state and needs support payments.
Once you have established legal paternity, you have the same rights to pursue visitation as any other father! If you have questions regarding establishing paternity or visitation, contact Adkins Law for more information.
Sexting and Divorce
Imagine this—your spouse is in the shower and you notice they’re getting a lot of text messages. You flip over the phone, and see their inbox is full of explicit texts and pictures going back and forth between your spouse and a coworker. You’ve had your suspicion of infidelity, but now you have proof! What do you do next?
Before you do anything else, you should contact Adkins Law and set up a consult about your situation. In North Carolina, marital misconduct is a big deal. It can be used as the basis for a fault-based divorce, in determining alimony, and in so called heart balm torts like criminal conversation or alienation of affection suits. Unfortunately, those incriminating texts may not be enough to prove infidelity on their own.
“But what do you mean this isn’t enough?!”, you’re surely asking. This is a frustrating side effect of new technology coming into the courts. While these text messages may be very explicit and constitute cheating in your mind, absent proof that there was inclination and opportunity to have actual, physical sexual conduct, it simply is not enough.
This is not the end, however. These text messages may be very helpful in bolstering your claim of infidelity. For example, if you know that your spouse and their coworker went on a “work trip” together and shared a room, you can likely make the case that they had both inclination and opportunity to engage in a sexual relationship, and those text messages only make it more likely that they did. Text messages may also detail an encounter that occurred between the parties that can be used to show that a sexual relationship is ongoing or to show that third party driving a wedge into the marriage.
Remember, text messages, emails, phone records and the like can all be used as supporting evidence, but it is important that they are collected correctly and authenticated to be used in court.
If you are interested in pursuing a divorce based on infidelity or have any questions about how to correctly preserve those text messages, contact Adkins Law today to set up a consult.
What is Annulment?
By: Jacqueline Keenan
Unlike a divorce, which is the end of a marriage between two individuals, an annulment declares that a marriage never existed. This is a rare procedure and has very narrow requirements in North Carolina.
Requirements for Annulment in North Carolina
In order to procure an annulment, it must be shown that the marriage is void or voidable. The only situations in which an annulment can be granted are:
All of the other factors are “voidable”, meaning that there is a problem with the legality of the marriage that can lead to the marriage being erased if an annulment is procured. Because these marriages are not immediately void, they may be ratified by the conduct of the parties—meaning if you continue to live together or have children together, you may not be able to seek an annulment. If an annulment is not possible, then it is time to consider a divorce.
I think I qualify for an annulment. Now what?
Contact Adkins Law! We are happy to help you determine if you are in fact eligible for an annulment, and what your next steps should be!