Divorce is a complex process. After all, untangling two lives that have become intertwined over many years isn’t easy. There are many decisions you’ll have to make during the divorce process. As you prepare to make those decisions – decisions regarding the division of property (including your assets and debts), the potential sale of your home, the updating of your legal and insurance documents, and other important matters, gathering information pertaining to those matters ahead of time will help to simplify matters to some degree.
It is also unfortunate to say, but important to be aware, that in a divorce, relationships can become extremely strained. Often, people can become so emotional that they act in unpredictable ways which are completely out of character. It is not unusual for a spouse to take paperwork without the other spouse’s knowledge, or even to destroy important paperwork in anger, or out of a desire for revenge. Even if you may not expect that sort of behavior from your spouse, it is still a wise precaution to save copies of important documentation and information while you still have access to it.
Certainly, the information needed will vary depending upon your unique circumstances. However, information that is usually helpful to gather includes:
With respect to any documentation you may gather, it is always best to collect at least three to five years’ worth of information if possible, or more if you have been in a long-term marriage. Although gathering this information may be time-consuming and tedious, it is a worthwhile effort in the long run in order to save yourself time, expense, and headache down the road.
If you need to speak with an experienced divorce attorney, please contact Adkins Law to arrange a consultation.
We live in a “do-it-yourself” age, and the practice of law is no exception. There is, after all, so much information available online, that many make the assumption that they can learn all they need to know, and handle the divorce process for themselves. While it is understandable that some might make this assumption, it is an assumption that comes with many hidden costs and pitfalls. Often, people go into a do-it-yourself divorce process assuming they will save money and time, when in fact, doing so ends up costing them more of both. Even if your case may seem “simple” and as if you and your spouse may agree on many issues, it is far too easy to make mistakes that may come back to haunt you down the road. Some of the more common pitfalls of do-it-yourself divorce include:
Ultimately, even if you feel that your divorce is “simple” in nature, and that you and your spouse agree upon all important issues, seeking the advice of a knowledgeable and experienced attorney will help to ensure that the process ultimately goes smoothly, and that you do not encounter any unexpected (and potentially costly) issues in the future. You may lose rights to valuable property and assets you would otherwise be entitled to, or end up paying more or getting less in alimony or support than you otherwise would, or losing a substantial amount of parenting time with your children – and those are only a few possibilities of many.
An attorney who is qualified and experienced in the practice of family law will be able to identify any issues you may have overlooked, point out any potential negative consequences of certain decisions, and advise you of what to expect throughout the divorce process.
Finding yourself in a difficult place in your marriage can be extremely difficult from an emotional perspective, particularly if you have been experiencing those difficulties for some time. Depending upon the nature of your relationship and your troubles, it is entirely understandable that you might feel lonely, frustrated, and without true companionship. No one wants to feel that way, and trying to get through the day while struggling with those feelings can understandably be stressful, draining, and discouraging. It is in these situations, where one or both spouses are struggling with emotional emptiness, that some find themselves more susceptible to becoming involved in affairs, or conversely, discover that their spouse is having an affair.
While affairs are ill-advised for any number of reasons, in North Carolina, they have very real and significant consequences from a legal perspective. In North Carolina, adultery is actually a misdemeanor offense under the criminal code, though it is highly unlikely that a prosecutor would bring criminal charges for an affair. What is far more likely, however, is that adultery, if proven, could significantly impact many aspects of a divorce case – not only from a financial perspective, but also with respect to child custody and other matters of great importance to the parties, not to mention the fact that the spouse harmed by the affair could potentially bring a lawsuit for significant damages under North Carolina law.
How Evidence of an Affair Can Impact Your Divorce Case
Ultimately, evidence of adultery can impact your divorce case in a variety of ways. Some of the most significant include:
If you need to speak with an experienced divorce attorney, please contact Adkins Law to arrange a consultation.
Its an unfortunate reality that domestic abuse exists in some relationships and marriages. In these situations, safety should be your first and foremost priority. If you are in circumstances that are threatening and abusive, remaining in the marital home while you contemplate the divorce process is not only ill-advised – it is potentially very dangerous, for you and for your children. Always trust your instincts, and if you feel that you need to leave immediately, you should do so.
In a situation involving domestic abuse, it is critical to act first and contemplate matters later. If you are a victim of domestic abuse and are considering divorce, it can be very helpful to make a safety plan if you have the ability to do so. If you are in imminent danger, of course you should leave immediately. If you have time, however, taking the following steps can be helpful to protect yourself and your children:
Gathering this documentation can give you peace of mind, not to mention that it could be very helpful in a divorce case in the future.
If you find yourself in a situation involving domestic abuse, after securing your safety and the safety of your children, it can be helpful to think about how you might approach the divorce process itself. Throughout this guide, we try to advocate cooperative divorce resolution methods – typically, the process proceeds more smoothly and is easier for all involved with the parties can work together toward solutions that are satisfactory for everyone.
Unfortunately, however, in situations involving domestic violence, this sort of cooperative negotiation is simply not possible. Throughout the divorce process, your primary emphasis should be on your safety, and on protecting your interests and those of your children. Often, spouses who are controlling and abusive are difficult to negotiate with, and attempt to use the divorce process as a way to punish or prolong their control over the abused spouse.
In those situations, it is important to retain the services of an attorney who understands some of the psychology involved in abusive relationships, and who can advocate for you in a way that will ultimately be effective in pursuing and protecting your interests. This may mean that methods of negotiation like mediation, or collaborative law may not work well in your particular set of circumstances – and that’s okay. Allowing a court to resolve your issues may very well be the best solution, because it will provide the formal distance between you and your spouse that is necessary for your safety and for you to assert your rights without fear of manipulation or verbal abuse. Regardless of how you choose to proceed with resolving the issues between you, it is important to have the services of a knowledgeable and experienced attorney on your side.
As a few final reminders on the subject of domestic abuse, before any other considerations, safety should come first. As a victim of abuse, you should know that you are entitled to feel safe and to live a life free of intimidation and fear. This may mean involving the authorities, if necessary. If you, or your children are suffering from domestic abuse, do not hesitate to call the police if necessary. You may need to file criminal assault charges, or obtain an emergency protective order or a restraining order. Doing so is your right under the law, and it may be necessary. Never hesitate to do what you need to do in order to best protect yourself and those you love. This should always be your first priority.
If you need to speak with an experienced family law attorney regarding domestic violence, please contact Adkins Law to arrange a consultation.
It’s a simple truth that divorce is one of the biggest life decisions that one can make. While we are here to help families through divorce, and while divorce absolutely is the best decision for some families, we also believe that it is not a decision to be taken lightly. Those who are contemplating divorce should take the time to do exactly that – truly contemplate it. Explore your emotions, think through your feelings, and envision your future as it might be post-divorce. Carefully assess the implications of your decision, and make sure you have made the efforts you feel that you should make to save your marriage. Doing so ultimately provides far more peace of mind than making a spontaneous decision, regardless of which path you choose. In that spirit, we offer some guidance on what to contemplate when you’re contemplating divorce.
If you have reached a place in your marriage and your life where you are seriously contemplating divorce, chances are high that you are likely under some amount of emotional stress. This is understandable. The decision to get married is one of the most momentous decisions in life, and the decision to divorce, almost equally so. During this time, be patient with yourself. Don’t rush into any hasty decisions, and be kind and compassionate with yourself, and with your spouse. Take all the time that you need to really think through your decisions. Take a long, hard look at your marriage – not only its difficulties, but its positive attributes as well. Look toward the future, and really try to envision what it might be like after your marriage ends – financially, emotionally, and practically.
Stepping back from the stress of the moment and taking a thorough emotional inventory can be immensely helpful. It can be understandable, when you find yourself in an unhappy place in your marriage to assume that you have only two choices – stay unhappy, or obtain a divorce. In fact, however, there are viable alternatives. A simple truth is that while divorce may remove some stresses, it does create others. There may be added financial stressors, conflicts over child custody, and other difficulties that arise during and after the divorce process that are worth thoroughly considering. After doing so, some people decide that despite feelings of disappointment or anger, their marriage is worth saving. Only you and your spouse can ultimately make that determination, but it is very important to thoroughly think through your feelings before doing so.
If you are contemplating divorce, it can also be helpful to truly take the necessary time to envision your future and what it might be like without your spouse. Certainly, divorce will have many effects, not only for you and for your spouse personally, but also on your lifestyle, and certainly for your children. Major life changes can be difficult for all of us, but this is often especially the case for children. Think through what this change might mean for everyone – from an emotional and a practical perspective. How might it change your day-to-day routines? How might it affect where you live, and where your children go to school? Will you be able to remain in the marital home, or will you need to downsize? What might this mean from a practical perspective for your children and their day-to-day activities? Do you have a strong support network of friends, or family that might be able to help you when needed? While these considerations should certainly not serve as the sole basis for any decision you make, they are certainly important to think about as you’re trying to look objectively at the whole picture.
Having an objective realistic long-term view of what might be best in your particular situation can be difficult when you are in the midst of emotional turmoil and feel particularly sad or angry. For this reason, it is vital to take the time that you need to truly contemplate divorce and what it means, as well as your marriage, and whether or not you believe it can be saved. Don’t hesitate to seek counseling, or assistance from supportive family and friends as you work through your feelings and think through what you need and want for your future. Doing so is worth your time, and likely to result in a feeling of greater peace about whatever decision you ultimately make.
Why Marriage Counseling?
Some marriage counseling statistics indicate that only 10% of couples seek marriage counseling prior to making the decision to divorce. We believe that this number should be much, much higher. Marriage counseling is often extremely helpful to couples who want to find healthy ways to work through their issues and difficulties in a safe space. Sometimes, even when we have the best of intentions toward resolving a problem or issue in an amicable way, our emotions can get the best of us, and it can be difficult to remain objective. A marriage counselor often provides couples with a place to safely address the problems they are facing with the help of an objective third party who can listen and, ideally, offer practical advice and potential solutions.
Certainly, most of us realize that counseling is not some sort of easy, magical solution to all of our problems, and the reality is that not every couple who goes to counseling will ultimately save their marriage. Nevertheless, there are still a number of good reasons to give counseling a fair try. These include:
For these reasons and many others, marriage counseling can be immensely helpful for those contemplating divorce. Choosing the right therapist to guide you through that process is, therefore, very important.
How to Choose a Marital Therapist
It goes without saying that making the decision as to whether or not you will ultimately seek a divorce is one of the most important decisions you will make. Understandably, then, if you have decided to pursue marriage counseling prior to making that decision, you want to find a marriage therapist who is well-qualified and a good fit to help you work through your feelings. How can you go about doing this? A few helpful guidelines for making this important decision include the following:
In addition to taking these important steps, getting a head-start at looking through lists of qualified therapists online can also be helpful. The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) is the most well-known professional association for marriage therapists. Membership requires a minimum of a master’s degree, as well as specific graduate training in marriage and family therapy under the supervision of qualified and experienced therapists. Those who are looking for a credentialed therapist can look on the AAMFT website (https://www.aamft.org), as well as asking friends, family members, or their attorney for recommendations of qualified professionals in their area.
While all of these steps are important in selecting a therapist that is a good fit for your needs, looking at practical information is important too. Don’t hesitate to ask potential therapists about their fees, what insurance they accept, and the average length of therapy. Knowing these facts is also important to making an informed decision.
In the end, it is most important to trust your instincts when choosing a counselor. Choose someone with whom you feel that you and your spouse can openly share your thoughts and feelings, and to whom you can speak honestly and frankly. Additionally, make a commitment to give therapy a fair effort. Many couples who commit to going to therapy for a specific number of sessions often have more success than those who do not. It is also important to commit to fully focusing on your marriage during this time. Don’t begin new relationships, or make other decisions that may cause added stress to your marriage. Be fully present, and fully involved. If you are making the investment in counseling, commit to doing the necessary work to making your investment count.
If are considering divorce and need to speak to a family law attorney to understand your rights and options, please contact Adkins Law PLLC.