Johnston County, North Carolina Family Lawyer
When a couple separates, it is a extremely difficult time. Emotions run high and there are often accusations and threats which, whether valid or not, lead to further conflict and stress. If there are children involved, the dissolution of the family can be very frightening for them as well. By concentrating my practice on family law, I am able to ease some of the anxiety which is inherent in dealing with emotional issues such as child custody and marital property division. With the initial consultation, I will familiarize you with the legal process of separation and divorce, and offer reassurance in regard to the irrational demands of your spouse or significant other. I can assist you in addressing the real issues that exist and help you develop a plan to manage them in a logical way, first addressing the immediate concerns and stabilizing your situation as quickly as possible, and then looking at long-term goals. My experience in domestic negotiations with opposing spouses or their attorneys can often ease many of the stresses that are placed on your family during these times and help minimize the expenses of time-consuming litigation, which can be an added burden.
Some of the areas of family law in which we can assist you are:
- Custody and Visitation
- Child Support
- Domestic Violence Protective Orders (obtaining and defending)
- Alimony and Spousal Support
- Equitable Distribution of Marital Property
- Separation Agreements
- Absolute Divorce
- Adoptions and Name Changes
- Termination of Parental Rights
My legal assistant, Karen Grubbs, and I regularly attend family law seminars so that we stay current on the law and can address your individual needs. When you first telephone my office, you will speak with Karen. She takes initial background information, which I will review before I speak with you directly, or schedule an appointment for an initial consultation. Karen works closely with me on all of my cases and can frequently answer clients’ questions if I am not readily available. Because I am centrally located, I handle legal matters for clients throughout Johnston County, including Clayton, Selma, Benson, Four Oaks, Kenly, Princeton, Pine Level and the 40/42 area (Cleveland)
There is a general discussion of family law issues below, which is provided by Findlaw®. Please note that it is general family law information only and is not a discussion of North Carolina law. If you wish to speak with me about how North Carolina law applies to your situation, please contact me so that we can discuss it.
Family Law – An Overview
Family law is the term applied to the laws and rules developed regarding family relationships. Family law rules define not only the relationships between members of a family but also between a family and society as a whole. More than any other area of the law, family law reflects the values society shares regarding how people who are related should treat each other. When you are faced with an important life decision regarding a key family relationship, the advice and assistance of a family law attorney often proves crucial to your understanding of the issues involved and your satisfaction with the ultimate outcome of your family law matter.
Typically, family law attorneys assist people in making and dissolving family relationships. Specific areas of representation include marriage and relationship planning, divorce, paternity, child custody and child support. Some family law attorneys also provide assistance in the area of adoption.
Marriage is a legal and business union as much as it is a romantic one. Because marriage is a legal and business arrangement, it may be wise to consult with an attorney about the advantages of premarital or prenuptial agreements. Many couples find it helpful to work through financial issues and the potential disagreements such issues can create before entering into a marriage.
Divorce is a method of terminating a marriage contract. From a legal standpoint, divorce restores an individual’s right to marry someone else. The process also legally divides marital assets and debts and determines the care and custody of the children. Each state addresses these issues differently. However, most states follow the same basic principles and use relatively uniform standards.
In some states you may need to prove fault, commonly referred to as grounds, to obtain a divorce. However, the majority of states allow at least one form of no-fault divorce in which the spouses are not required to prove that the other caused the breakdown of the marriage. If no-fault grounds for divorce are available in your state, either you or your spouse may obtain a divorce, even if one of you does not consent to the divorce. In some states both fault and no-fault divorce are available.
In most divorces, the primary issues to be decided are alimony or spousal support, property division and, if there are children, child custody, visitation and child support. When spouses agree on how to resolve these issues, they can usually obtain a divorce relatively quickly. However, in many cases, divorcing spouses have disputes regarding their post-marriage financial arrangements and the care and custody of their children. Property division and alimony are often hotly contested issues in divorce proceedings, but the early advice of a family law attorney may be able to impact the ultimate result favorably.
Child Custody And Visitation
The care and upbringing of children following divorce is often an ongoing source of conflict for divorcing parents. Custody must address both physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody typically involves allocating parental rights and responsibilities regarding the day-to-day care and activities of the children. Legal custody typically involves allocating the legal rights and responsibilities associated with the child’s upbringing.
Sometimes the parents agree to an arrangement; sometimes the court determines one for them. In the past, courts routinely gave mothers physical custody and gave fathers visitation rights. Today, the courts have begun to realize that sometimes it is in the best interests of the children to reside with the father and reverse the roles of the parents. In general, the courts favor joint ongoing child rearing responsibilities with the children residing where it is most practical and where they will flourish. The advice and assistance of a family law attorney can help parents to establish child custody and visitation agreements that focus on the best interests of the children.
Parents must financially support their children. That obligation usually lasts until the child reaches the age of majority (usually 18 or 21 years old depending on state law) or becomes self-supporting. An order for child support may be entered during or after a divorce, and either parent may be ordered to pay support depending upon how custody is arranged. In most states, an unmarried mother may also file a petition for child support in family court, and an order for support will be entered once paternity has been established.
A parent who fails to remain current on his or her child support obligations faces significant penalties. Every state has a child support enforcement office that works with the family court to suspend professional or business licenses, take away driver and recreational licenses, require payment of future owed sums in advance or place non-paying parents in jail when child support obligations are overdue, though hiring a private family law attorney will typically speed up the process. Because of the state specific requirements involved in child support, parents can benefit from the advice and involvement of a family law lawyer when child support issues arise.
Contact A Family Law Attorney
Family relations create a host of legal consequences. Whether you are contemplating marriage or divorce or are considering adoption, a family law attorney can explain the laws that apply to your particular situation and help you to make informed choices for you and your family.