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Important decisions in life are often marked by paperwork, official documents and sometimes the need for a notary. Whether a car is purchased or a couple gets married, contracts are signed and there is record of the transaction in the form of legal documents.
Unraveling a marriage requires official paperwork and the decree is filed with the county and state. When going through a divorce, understanding the laws in North Carolina can make a difference in the final settlement and in preparing for the future.
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It can be difficult to see children confused and hurt as a result of the marriage ending. Important decisions regarding child custody and support have to be handled, and the process will be smoother if both parents agree on the final arrangement.
In determining custody arrangements, parents can influence the outcome by working together to address and agree on all aspects concerning their children. In the event that spouses can’t resolve the issues, a judge has the ability to intervene and make the official ruling. The court can grant the following types of custody in North Carolina:
- Legal joint custody
- Legal sole custody
- Physical joint custody
- Physical sole custody
Child custody mediation can help parents deal with objections from another spouse and arrive at a mutually agreeable end result. Parents that are in disagreement over child-related issues are required to attend a mediation session to finalize a parenting plan. If matters are not worked through, a judicial proceeding is the next step.
When parents divorce, financial obligations to the children need to be determined. Each parent will be responsible for a portion of all child-related costs. In some instances, the parent that makes more money will pay a higher amount of support. The court references a variety of points in determining support payments, such as:
- The number of overnight stays
- The gross income of each parent
- The number of children (and number of children from a past marriage)
A judge may take into consideration other factors such as taxes, union dues and health premiums when determining child support.
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Allocating property between two parties in a divorce can be a challenging process. Two categories define all types of property in equitable division – marital and separate. In Charlotte, North Carolina, as elsewhere in the state, both debts and assets acquired during the marriage are split in a divorce.
Division Of Property
An item defined as separate property such as, an inheritance or a birthday gift, is not divided upon the dissolution of marriage. Debt is typically divided in the marriage; however, a judge has discretion to divide property based upon what is fair and reasonable. The goal of diving property is to achieve an equal net worth between the two people involved.
Some of the assets and debts which are commonly divided include:
- Retirement accounts
- Real estate, such as the family home
- Automobiles, boats and planes
- Collectible items, such as fine art
- Household items
- Bank accounts, stocks, bonds and pensions
- Credit card debt
- Loans taken out during the marriage
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In North Carolina, getting a divorce is generally done under no-fault laws. Couples have the option to get a fault divorce, however, by citing grounds such as adultery or a spouse’s alcohol problem. Other methods to end a marriage include a collaborative divorce and an annulment.
When a couple seeks an annulment, this action will treat the union as though it never legally happened. Very specific grounds need to exist and proven to the court, such as:
- Spouses are of close family relation.
- A spouse was already legally married at the time of the marriage.
- A spouse was impotent.
- A spouse was under the age of 16 years old.
- A spouse committed fraud.
- A spouse was mentally incapacitated at the time of the marriage.
Annulments are more uncommon than divorce and the grounds are difficult to prove in some instances. Hiring an experienced lawyer to help with the investigative aspect of an annulment can make a difference in obtaining a successful outcome.
Collaborative law principles function on the premise that spouses are going to voluntarily offer their financial records and other necessary information to resolve the divorce issues. Couples work with attorneys and commit to avoiding a courtroom trial. One of the advantages of this process is that there is no time limit on completing the proceeding like in many of the other official divorce methods. Some of the other benefits of a collaborative divorce are:
- Saves time and money
- The process is private and voluntary
- Focuses on financial, emotional and practical aspects
- Resolves differences in a peaceful and respectful manner
Alternative Dispute Resolution
In alternative dispute resolution (ADR) a mediator helps spouses settle disputes over the divorce issues. This process can be far more cost effective and take less time than regular adversarial representation. ADR is not recommended for couples with a history of abuse or for those with poor communication.
An ADR mediator can work with spouses to help accomplish:
- Settlements that work for each person
- Preservation of spousal relationships
- Productive and healthy dialogue
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Going through a divorce can be a highly emotionally charged situation. When there are children to consider, the need for reliable legal information can be even more important. Whether there is a family business involved or concerns over child custody, an experienced lawyer can offer sound guidance. Before signing agreements that may not be in your best interests, it’s important to seek the help of a skilled Charlotte divorce attorney.
All lawyers have different experience levels in the various types of law. When going through the complicated divorce process, it is wise to hire a skilled Charlotte attorney with a practice in family law. The lawyer you select should take the time to listen to your goals and work hard in the effort help achieve your desired outcome.
To begin the divorce process or learn more about the legal options available to you, fill out the care review form to speak with with a experienced local Charlotte divorce attorney.