In North Carolina, when you separate from your child’s other parent, there are a lot of things to consider and plan for. In most cases, it is best to have a consent order entered as to your child custody arrangement, and any child support obligations. A custody order is required to enforce any agreements as to child custody.
In North Carolina, there are two kinds of child custody: legal child custody, and physical child custody. Legal child custody concerns decision making, and what parent is making such decisions as to where the minor child is attending school, what doctor and dental treatments the minor child will have, what religious practices the child will adhere to, and what extracurricular activities and events the child will participate in. Physical custody, on the other hand, concerns what parenting time each parent will spend with the minor children.
Most cases involving child custody are resolved by direct negotiations with the opposing party, and the remainder are resolved through the process of mediation. Most jurisdictions require the parties to attend a mandatory mediation before they may present their child custody case in front of a judge. Mediation is often successful as it gives the parties the ability to maintain a sense of control in resolving and settling their matter. In the event your spouse or partner is unreasonable, and unwilling to settle, your case may be forced into litigation, where the judge determines a child custody arrangement dependent upon the best interests of the minor child.
If you need to speak with a child custody attorney regarding a child custody matter, please contact Adkins Law. We are located in Huntersville NC and are happy to be of service.
Filing for an absolute divorce in Mecklenburg County requires the following:
1. At least one party must have lived in North Carolina for at least six months prior to filing for divorce.
2. The parties must have lived separate and apart for at least one year and one day prior to filing for the divorce.
3. The plaintiff (the person who is filing the lawsuit) must be able to prove that he or she served the defendant (the person who is getting sued). This is usually done by mail or sheriff.
Once I file for divorce, how long does it take?
Although it may be possible to process a divorce in a matter of days (if both parties agree to expedite and appear in person before a judge), once the plaintiff files for divorce, it takes anywhere from three to four months on average for the divorce to be finalized.
Do I have to go to court?
No, in an uncontested divorce in Mecklenburg County, neither party is required to go to court. You may select to appear in court to expedite the divorce process, or you may have your attorney handle the entire matter for you.
How much will this cost me?
Court costs for filing a divorce in Mecklenburg County are $225.00. There is also a $20.00 fee for the hearing to occur, $10.00 fee if you wish to resume your maiden name, and approximately $10.00 to $30.00 fee to serve the other party (if they do not wish to accept service).
If you need representation in filing a divorce in Mecklenburg County, contact Adkins Law. In most cases, we can get all required information over the phone, have you verify and sign the filing documents, and process the divorce without the necessity of you having to meet in person or go to court.
If you are contemplating separation and divorce, and need to speak with an experienced family law attorney, contact Adkins Law. We are located in Huntersville NC, and serve the greater Charlotte NC area.
In North Carolina, the goal of child support is ensure that the child is receiving the same proportion of their parents’ income as they would if they lived together. This is determined by a formula through the North Carolina Support Guidelines, which are designed to meet the needs of the child while being fair to both parents. The child support order will dictate the amount of money the non- custodial parent must pay.
How is the support computed?
Calculating child support requires determining the parents’ total gross income and calculating the percentage that each parent contributes to the total. The court may also consider overtime pay, bonuses, self- employment and other biological or adopted children. Step- children are not considered in the calculation.
It is important to remember child support has priority over all other financial obligations, and in addition to setting child support, the order may require one or both parents to provide health insurance coverage for the children.
How does the process work?
The non- custodial parent will be served with a Civil Summons and Complaint. They can respond to the document by filing an answer, providing financial information to the child support office prior to the hearing date and signing a voluntary support order, appearing at a hearing, or getting an attorney who will assist in responding to the Complaint.
If the non- custodial parent does not respond to the Compliant, the court may enter a default offer. This means the court takes everything the custodial parent says to be true, and enters an order based on that information.
Coming to an agreement between the parties is always preferred, and if both parents are able to find a solution that they can agree on then a court hearing is not required.
Contact Adkins Law today to set up a consultation and discuss the best way to move forward in your Child Support case.
Undeniably, many families in the US experience serious domestic problems that often necessitate legal interventions. Just like other states of the US, North Carolina (NC) too has its unique laws, under the North Carolina General Statutes (NCGS), that govern all the family matters and that are applicable across its respective regions including Mecklenburg County and all the regions within such counties such as Cornelius, Davidson, and Huntersville in Mecklenburg County. As such, it is crucial for all persons residing within NC, particularly in Mecklenburg County to know the fundamentals of family law in NC likely to affect them such as separation and divorce, alimony, child support, and child custody.
Noteworthy, separation and divorce (NCGS § 50) are two different concepts under North Carolina’s family law statutes. A legal separation does not end one’s marriage. Instead, a legal separation lets the parties remain married but live separately. Marital misconduct may come into play here if a party wants to file an action for a forced legal separation. However, for an action for a forced legal separation (divorce from bed and board) to succeed, the complainant must provide evidence establishing that the spouse was at fault including cruelty, adultery, and indignities, etc.
Significantly, although one can legally separate at whatever time, the parties must have been physically separated for a minimum period of one (1) year to succeed in a no-fault divorce. As such, one must meet the legal definition of “separation” to file a divorce case. Merely living in different rooms of the same house or living in separate houses but maintaining the appearance of a relationship does not qualify as a legal separation under the state’s law. If the couple reconciles, the separation period terminates. Additionally, another option other than separation exists, though rarely pursued. Here, the law allows a partner to file for divorce after being lawfully separated for three (3) years and believes that the other partner suffers from untreatable lunacy.
Alimony, child support, and child custody are also NC family law issues. According to NCGS § 50-16.3A, alimony is the act of paying for the upkeep and maintenance of a partner, either through a lump-sum or on an ongoing basis provided by the supporting spouse to the dependent spouse. In Mecklenburg County, forinstance, the general rule is that a dependent spouse is the one earning less income, though the NCGS contains sixteen factors (NCGS § 50-16.3A) that guide the court in making such a determination. When it comes to child custody in NC, the most common reference usually made is “the best interest of the child.” Here, the judge (not a jury) hears the evidence presented before the court and decides how the parents, either jointly or individually, will share time with the children and make decisions impacting the lives of the children.
Often, the court appoints joint physical custody of the children to the parents. Sometimes the court will award one parent as having main physical custody while the other having ancillary physical custody accompanied with a visitation schedule. One parent is usually ordered to pay the other parent child support. Such support is usually assessed using the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines, especially if the combined yearly income of the two prior to taxation amounts to $300,00.00 or less (though also dependent on the custodial schedule), and such a support lasts until the child turns 18 years and graduates high school, or the child is lawfully emancipated. If you need to speak with an experienced family law attorney, contact Adkins Law.
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.
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.
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!
1) How long do we have to be separated before we can file for divorce?
You can file for divorce “if and when the husband and wife have lived separate and apart for one year, and the plaintiff or defendant in the suit for divorce has resided in the State for a period of six (6) months.”
2) How long will the whole process take once the complaint is filed?
It depends. When the plaintiff files a complaint for absolute divorce, a defendant is entitled to 30 days to respond. If a defendant fails to respond to the complaint within 30 or 60 days if applicable, the plaintiff is entitled to proceed with their claim for absolute divorce.
3) What if I am in the military and live out of state? Can the divorce still be filed in NC?
Yes! As long as there is one party that resides in North Carolina for a minimum of six months. The divorce will have to be filed in the county the resident resides in.
5) Is spousal support available while divorce is pending in court?
It is up to the court to order that one spouse provide support to the other during the pending stages of the divorce.
6) When is it considered abandonment by a spouse?
Abandonment occurs when a spouse intentionally moves out of the martial home with the intent to remain permanently apart without the consent of the other spouse.
7) Is your spouse entitled to alimony if they cheated?
No! A spouse that is found dependent by the court is not entitled to alimony if they have had sexual relations with another person that is not their spouse at any time prior to the date of separation.
8) What if my spouse does not agree to the divorce, can I still move forward with the divorce complaint?
You can obtain a divorce decree whether your spouse agrees with it or not. There are just two requirements: you and your spouse have to have been separated for one-year and one of you has to have been a resident of North Carolina for 6-months prior to the filing of the divorce.
Adkins Law specializes in Family Law and is prepared to help you with your divorce. We understand you may have more questions before you proceed with a divorce that is why we offer consultations. Give our office a call to schedule your consultation.