Why should you hire a Charlotte attorney?
You might be wondering whether you need to hire a Charlotte family law attorney to help you with your case in North Carolina. People often think they can handle these issues, particularly in amicable situations, on their own. The reality is that you can resolve many family laws matters without assistance of counsel. The question is whether that’s the best choice for you and your family. To answer that question, it’s important to understand the benefits of working with a qualified family law attorney in Charlotte.
You need solid professional information on complex legal topics in order to make good decisions. At Weaver, Bennett & Bland, we know the law and what it requires. We’re extremely familiar with the cases and statutes North Carolina judges use to decide family law matters. It’s our job to remain on top of the latest legal developments, and we have access to the most recent legal decisions that could impact your case. Making choices based on inaccurate information may have unfortunate consequences. We provide the people we represent with accurate, well-researched, specific information so they have the right tools to make good choices.
Hiring an attorney can save you time and money
Working with an attorney can save you time, money and effort. It keeps you from having to reinvent the wheel. Our Charlotte family law practice has been handling cases for years, so we know where to file motions, how many copies of an exhibit the court requires and precisely when specific things need to be filed. Every day we work with the clerks and judges in Charlotte, so we understand their preferences, appreciate their points of view and know their schedule. Due to the emotional nature of family law, most people don’t want to unnecessarily prolong the process. We understand the ropes to help you move your case along efficiently.
Clear expectations can help keep things from becoming tense
People often think they only need to hire an attorney to help navigate contentious family law matters. We disagree. Tension can rise, even in amicable divorce cases, when people fail to accurately anticipate the issues of daily living they’ll be required to address. Well-meaning people who are otherwise on the same page often fail to discuss things like how to divide money from the prior year’s tax return, or who’s responsible for dealing with the details of selling a home neither party wishes to remain living in. As experienced attorneys who do this all the time, we know what topics need to be addressed and the most effective ways to deal with them. Having an attorney can minimize conflict, which lets you concentrate on getting started with your new life.
A holistic practice
At Weaver Bennett & Bland we stand ready to offer individualized advice on several different Charlotte family law matters. Unlike some firms, we don’t concentrate on one or two specific types of cases, like divorce or adoption. This is a conscious choice on our part. Your life can’t be divided into neat categories entitled business, finances and family, and neither should your legal representation. Family law issues frequently come up in business law, estate planning, and other areas of our practice. We recognize the complexity of this intertwining and provide holistic representation that addresses all of your needs.
Our Charlotte Family Law Practice
At Weaver, Bennet & Bland’s Charlotte family law practice, we have years of experience counseling, negotiating, and litigating. Here are a few of our Charlotte family law practice areas.
A judgment of absolute divorce in Charlotte is purely a vehicle for ending a marriage. It’s not used by North Carolina courts to address property distribution or spousal support. Questions involving the division of martial property and alimony must be either settled, or before a court at the time the judgment of absolute divorce is entered, or you lose the right to later ask for a court’s intervention on these matters. Difficulties can occur when there are unresolved property distribution issues, you have not filed the proper paperwork asking the court to address these concerns, and a court enters a judgement of absolute divorce.
Annulment in the state of North Carolina is different from a divorce. It’s a legal assertion that a valid marriage never existed. Statues establish the circumstances under which couples are eligible for an annulment. The length of your marriage is not a relevant factor. If you’ve decided to end your marriage, it’s sensible to explore all the potential options with an experienced family law attorney, including whether your marriage can be dissolved via annulment as opposed to divorce. Because annulment essentially makes it as if your marriage never existed, it can have consequences for issues like alimony and property distribution.
A separation agreement creates a negotiated roadmap for how you and your spouse will deal with issues like child custody, visitation, child support, property distribution, and spousal support after the divorce. They are negotiated between the parties to a divorce and bind both spouses. A solid separation agreement minimizes confusion, uncertainty, and conflict after the end of your marriage. They can even provide guidance on enforcement in the event of breach. You and your spouse are in the best position to craft an agreement that meets your family’s specific needs. We can help you negotiate and write highly personalized agreements, so you don’t end up having to rely on the court to decide matters like child custody or property distribution.
North Carolina law requires couples to remain separated for one year before divorcing. During the period of separation, the law allows a dependent spouse to receive post-separation financial support from a supporting spouse. It’s essentially a way for the court to order spousal support before entering a final alimony order. Most spouses address issues of spousal support in a separation agreement. A dependent spouse can petition the court to order the payment of financial support while a settlement agreement is being negotiated or litigation regarding property distribution is taking place. Post-separation support can be the subject of a negotiated agreement between spouses, or the matter can be litigated.
Prenuptial agreements are contracts entered before marriage that become valid once the marriage takes place. They allow couples to agree on what will be considered marital as opposed to individual property, and on asset distribution in the event of divorce. When asking a future partner to sign a pre-nuptial agreement it’s crucial to understand what acts and requests on your part can call the validity of the document into question. North Carolina courts, for instance, frown upon asking future spouses to sign these agreements too close to the actual day of the wedding. Not providing enough time for the other party to review one of these documents greatly increases the chances a court will invalidate a challenged pre-nuptial agreement. Threats or coercion will be grounds to invalidate a prenuptial agreement, although a threat to not go through with the marriage absent a prenuptial agreement is not deemed a threat sufficient to do so. The parties to a prenuptial agreement may determine the issue of alimony in such an agreement, something that cannot be done in a postnuptial agreement.
A postnuptial agreement is a contract between spouses regarding jointly held marital property. Such an agreement may be executed to resolve property issues that would have been resolved in a prenuptial agreement had one been executed, but postnuptial agreements cannot address alimony. They’re sometimes used during the termination of a marriage to address property issues before the execution of a complete separation agreement or to affect the sale of a house while the parties are still cohabiting. A divorcing couple can use one to agree on issues such as the sale of a jointly held home, who will be responsible for paying the mortgage and utility bills while the house is on the market, and how to divide any profit from the sale. They can be particularly useful when executed between amicably divorcing spouses to clarify expectations and prevent the development of conflict during the divorce process.
Property settlements in Charlotte
When a marriage ends, the question of how to divide a couple’s marital assets must be resolved. This can be accomplished with a negotiated property settlement agreement or litigation. If spouses are unable to come to an agreement, the issue must be litigated, and a judge will decide how marital assets will be divided according to the laws of North Carolina. In our experience, negotiated settlements are faster, more cost effective, less contentious, and result in the development of solutions specifically tailored to address your needs. Having an experienced Charlotte family law attorney is particularly important in North Carolina cases involving high-net worth as well as high-debt estates.
In general, property acquired by either spouse during a marriage becomes marital property. Equitable distribution is the concept North Carolina courts use to guide the distribution of jointly owned property. The statute requires marital assets to be equitably distributed between divorcing spouses and lays out a number of factors that can influence a final determination. Equitable distribution does not necessarily mean that each spouse is entitled to 50% of the marital assets at the time a marriage is terminated. Problems frequently arise when spouses enter into separation agreements without a correct understanding of North Carolina’s rules regarding equitable distribution, leading one party to accept an unfair property settlement.
Charlotte child custody
Child custody in Charlotte has two prongs: physical and legal custody. Physical custody determines with whom a child resides primarily and the schedule of secondary custody for the other parent. Legal custody involves the way decisions for the child must be made, and who has the right to make them. When parents are no longer together these issues can be the subject of either a custody agreement. If the parents cannot reach an agreement, litigation is required to resolve the issue of custody. In Charlotte, the parties must attend mediation in a final attempt to resolve custody before trial. If unsuccessful, a trial will determine the outcome. Child custody agreements can spell out several things including, custody rights, explicitly discuss a child’s religious upbringing, and provide guidance for how medical and educational decisions involving the child will be made.
Child support can be part of a custody or separation agreement in Charlotte, or the issue can be litigated before a court. North Carolina has guidelines for determining how much child support must be paid. Custody and settlement agreements allow parents to negotiate the amount of child support. When parents cannot agree on support and a court decides that one party owes child support, the judges generally determine the amount of support using the North Carolina child support guidelines. Judges will often order child support in an amount outside of that suggested by the guidelines (deviation) if the child has special needs or the parents’ combined income is above the guideline threshold.
Termination of Parental Rights
Our Charlotte family law practice represents individuals facing termination of parental rights and those seeking to end the rights of a natural parent. A court order is required to terminate the rights of a natural parent. It’s critical to seek counsel if an action to sever your parental rights is initiated or if you’re thinking about filing an action against the other parent. The termination of parental rights extinguishes a parent’s rights as well as their responsibilities. It’s important to understand what the termination of parental rights will mean when it comes to issues like child support and visitation before deciding how to proceed in these matters.
Adoptions in Charlotte
Step-parent adoptions are relatively simple affairs when the parent who is not married to the proposed adopting step-parent consents to the adoption. In such cases, the natural parent’s rights are terminated and the step-parent legally becomes the parent of the child. This will result in the right to change the child’s birth certificate to have the new parent added as if from birth. A contested step-parent adoption will be allowed if the non-consenting parent’s right are terminated after a hearing in court.
Custody and settlement agreements routinely address the physical custody of the child. Some non-custodial parents can have difficulty gaining access to their child. A visitation agreement can be negotiated between the parents to rectify this situation. This is particularly useful if specific articulable issues can be identified and addressed. There are steps you can take to make the violation of a visitation agreement by either party subject to contempt of court penalties. If conditions have changed, it’s possible to ask the court to change the visitation terms of a custody or settlement agreement.
A child custody arrangement is an agreement between parents. Under most circumstances you can see a grandchild when they’re in the care of your own child. Under certain circumstances this becomes problematic. If your child dies and the court did not address your visitation rights in the custody arrangement, you can lose the right to visit your grandchild. Before custody has been settled between the parents in a lawsuit, grandparents have the right to intervene and ask the court to consider the interests of the children in maintaining a relationship with the grandparents in a court order. Grandparents’ visitation rights is a legally complex area of law that can have unintended and binding consequences well into the future.
In situations where domestic violence has occurred we provide victims with comprehensive legal support. Domestic violence can have an impact on child support, child custody, and alimony. Harassment and physical abuse sometimes prompt a spouse to leave the marital home. This can have serious consequences when it comes to property division and spousal support. It’s important to speak with a family law attorney as soon as possible after you secure your safety.
Domestic violence protection orders (DVPO)
There are three types of domestic violence protection orders in Charlotte: a permanent civil no-contact order against a sex offender, a civil no-contact order, and a civil domestic violence protective order. All three offer relatively expansive protections for victims of domestic violence and broadly construe those covered to include spouses, domestic partners, and in some cases parents and children. Only a court can vacate a DVPO or change its terms. If you decide that obtaining a DVPO is the right choice, we can assist you with the required paperwork and provide the necessary representation before the court.
LGBTQ Family Law in Charlotte
Our Charlotte family law firm takes pride in providing high-quality legal representation to members of North Carolina’s LGBTQ community. In 2015, the United States Supreme Court decided Obergefell v Hodges, and same-sex marriage became the law of the land. Before then some states permitted same-sex marriage and others did not. As a result, same-sex couples married before Obergefell often have unique family law needs. Before 2015, North Carolina would not allow legally married same-sex couples to adopt a child. Many couples solved this by having one parent proceed with the adoption. In these cases, one parent essentially lacks legal recognition of their parental rights. Using the process of step-parent adoption our Charlotte family law attorneys can help families in this situation secure parental rights for both spouses.
Weaver, Bennett & Bland is here to help
At Weaver, Bennett & Bland, we are here to counsel you during your case. At our Charlotte family law practice we empower people with information and help them resolve their legal challenges. Through information, negotiation and litigation, we get our clients to where they need to go. If you’re interested in meeting with one our attorneys, contact us today to set up a consultation. We’d be delighted to meet you.