by: Jacqueline Keenan
Do you feel that you are being threatened?
In North Carolina, it is illegal to try to stop a witness from testifying through threats or intimidation. Intimidation under this law can include threats of bodily harm or violence, cursing, vulgarity, or threatening language given the context of the statements as a whole.
These statements can be explicit, like “if you testify I’m going to break your arm,” or can contain language that implies a threat, like “I’ll give you a taste of your own medicine”, or “I’ll make you regret this”.
Threats made against a witness are a Class G Felony. In North Carolina, a Class G Felony alone can lead to a sentence of 8-31 months in prison. This is a serious crime!
Who is affected by this law?
The witness intimidation law protects any person who has been “summoned” or is “acting as a witness”.
It punishes any person who threatens, intimidates, attempts to intimidate, or prevents the attendance of a witness from any North Carolina state court.
The law also pertains to defendants in a criminal proceeding who threaten a witness in their case with the assertion or denial of parental rights.
What to do if you’re being threatened
If you are a witness and feel you are being threatened, it is important that you report the threat to the police or an attorney on the case, so they can take appropriate action.
If you’re interested in more information about witness intimidation, contact Adkins Law!
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.
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.
Trusts are only for people with a high net worth!
Trusts can be set up to serve a variety of purposes and aren't only for "rich people". The most common type of trust is a living or revocable trust. A revocable trust is set up so that it can be modified during ones lifetime.
Trusts are Expensive to Setup!
Each state and attorney has its own prices when it comes to trusts. Contact attorneys in your area to get an idea of the cost. Generally attorneys have packages that include more than just a trust. Adkins Law specializes in Estate Planning and would be happy to help you!
You no longer in control of assets held in a trust!
With a revocable or living trust, you maintain complete control over all assets in the trust during your lifetime. Keep in mind, like most estate planning issues, credit protections vary and you should always work with an estate planning attorney to understand all your options.
Trusts are only for cash or financial securities!
Trusts can be set up to hold a variety of assets:
-Privately held interests in a business
Just to name a few!
The primary benefit of putting an asset in a revocable trust is to ensure the assets are distributed according to your wishes.
After I set up a trust, my assets will automatically flow as planned!
This may be true in some instances, however, this is not automatic and you must be careful not to contradict the terms of the trust. Once the trust is set up, retitle assets in the name of the trust.
I don't need a trust if I have a will!
Having a will in place is a great first step into estate planning. But, having a will does not mean your assets are completely secure. Wills can be contested, there is no guarantee that what you want to happen actually will happen if it is just outlined in your will.
It is generally a good idea to name a family member or friend as a trustee!
People often name relatives or family members as their executor of their estate and trustees on a trust. Sometimes this can create a strain on your family dynamics. Acting as trustee and/or executor or a trust and estate can be a large amount of work. You can always consider appointing an third party or corporate trustee to manage the assets and execute the wishes of your trust. My doing this it may alleviate the burden of appointing a family member and instead help in assigning a "neutral" party to act as trustee.
Trusts can be set up to benefit a charity, business organization, or even a pet.
Sometimes it is possible to assign percentages of your trust assets to a organization or charity of your choice. It is recommended you work with an attorney who may be able to assist in establishing the kind of trust that best fits to your needs for your family, maybe even your pets.
Trusts can be powerful and can accomplish a wide range of goals. They can be very difficult and sometimes hard to understand, That is why Adkins Law is here for you! We specialize in Estate Planning and we can work with your family in creating and drafting the Trust Document or Estate Package that best fits your needs for your family. Give our office a call to set up your FREE consultation.
Below is the process of filing for a restraining order also known as a Domestic Violence Protective Order or a Civil No-Contact Order.
1. Go to the courthouse:
Go to the office of the clerk of civil court or the magistrate’s office. Tell them you need to file for a restraining order, protective order, DVPO or Civil No-Contact Order. They should make sure you get the forms you need.
2. Fill out the complaint in detail:
(Do not sign it until you are before a notary or clerk of court)
Just remember: you are the plaintiff and the abuser is the defendant.
When filing out the paperwork be sure to provide a brief but complete summary of the most recent abuse you have suffered make sure to use specifics and details. Provide the dates that the incident(s) occurred.
The key is to give a clear picture of the abuse to the judge who will decide your case. You also want the judge to know what relief you are seeking.
3. Fill out the summons:
In addition to being served the complaint, your abuser will need to be served summons to appear in court. Try to include the abuser’s name, address and other contact information in the paperwork, if known. The sheriff’s office will serve the complaint and summons on the abuser. The sheriff’s office also will serve the notice of hearing and a copy of the temporary protective order.
You can help the sheriff’s office by filling out a form that identifies your abuser. This identification can include:
(Physical characteristics (height, weight, hair color, eye color),Driver’s license number, Social Security number, and/or Employment address)
You will also need to list your name and a safe mailing address and phone number.
Because the sheriff serves the abuser, you do not need to have contact with him/her. If the sheriff’s office cannot serve your abuser on time, your hearing will be rescheduled.
4. Seek a temporary protective order:
At the time you fill out the complaint and summons, you can also seek an ex parte/temporary protective order. This means that the abuser does not need to be present for a hearing. You can request it by checking a box on your complaint form. Then you go before a judge and explain why you or your children are in immediate danger and why this order is needed.
This is an emergency order.
Once it is granted, it takes effect immediately and typically lasts 10 days (which just the right amount of time for you to pursue a permanent order).
Keep this order with you at all times. Leave copies with your employer, your child’s school or daycare, and everywhere else you or your children can be found during a typical day.
5. Attend the hearing:
When you file the complaint/summons, you will be given a date and time for the hearing on your order. Your abuser will receive a notice of the hearing with this information.
You must attend the hearing. Your abuser has a right to attend as well. If the abuser does not attend, the court may proceed or elect to reschedule the hearing. You should have an attorney representing you at this hearing. At the hearing, you will need to show the court that the abuser has committed an act of domestic violence, stalking or nonconsensual sexual conduct. If the court finds that this has occurred, the court must grant the order
If you are in need of representation for your hearing, Adkins Law can help you. Christopher Adkins and Sarah Bennett are attorney's in the Lake Norman area that specialize in Family Law and can help you. Call our office today to set up a consultation with one of our attorney's.