Child Custody: How to Co-Parent During Holidays in North Carolina

Are you sharing custody of a child or children? We understand it’s never easy, but it can be even more contentious during the holidays. Of course, you and your former spouse want to spend precious holiday moments with your kids, but you must split your time fairly and honor any previous custody agreements. While some North Carolina parents can easily find common ground on child custody, others find themselves locked in a battle over who gets to spend time with their child on Christmas Eve or New Year’s Day.

Concerning quality hours spent with your children, who speaks for you? Our experienced child custody lawyer from Speaks Family Law shares some ways you can help reduce stress and ease the process of co-parenting during the holidays. To schedule a consultation, call us at (910) 769-7339.

Consider Holidays When Creating a Co-Parenting Plan

The first step in making holidays as peaceful as possible is to plan before the holiday season with the other parent. We have assisted many parents with factoring holidays into their initial custody arrangements or co-parenting plans to prevent any confusion or disagreements later.

Parenting is a full-time job, made even more challenging when former spouses share child custody between two households. Particularly during the holidays, it is vital to consider the logistics of how co-parenting will work to make the season as stress-free as possible for parents and children. Here are some essential items to remember when creating a co-parenting plan for the holidays:

  1. Be clear about which holidays each parent will have child custody. Clarity will help to avoid any confusion or last-minute scrambling.
  2. Plan and communicate with your co-parent about your child's schedule if travel is involved. It is also a good idea to have a backup plan in case of unforeseen travel delays.
  3. Remember that the holidays are a time for family and togetherness. Despite the challenges of co-parenting, focus on your child’s best interests and work with your co-parent to create a happy and memorable holiday season.

If you and your child's other parent cannot agree about dividing holidays, you can seek assistance from a family lawyer. Ultimately, you may need a judge to determine the co-parenting arrangement.

Consult with Your Child's Other Parent About Gift-Giving

Divorced parents in North Carolina may have child custody arrangements that specify which parent has the child on specific holidays. However, even when parents do not have equal child custody, they can still consult with each other about gift-giving during the holidays. Discussing the gifts they plan to purchase for their child can help ensure that the child receives appropriate gifts and does not feel left out or neglected during this special time of year.

Many parents within a co-parenting arrangement feel pressure to match the other parent's gifting habits. Perhaps your former spouse usually spends $1,000 on gifts for each child, but you take a more conservative approach. Alternatively, you may fear that you and the child's other parent will purchase the same gift.

Whatever the case, consulting with the other parent before the holiday season can help reduce tension. If your child has been asking for one specific present, perhaps you and their other parent can go in on it together or determine who will purchase it this year. You can also discuss how much money you plan to spend. It's okay if you and the other parent approach gifting differently as long as you are both aware of the expectations before the holidays.

When consulting with each other, parents should consider the child's age, interests, and needs. They should also strive to agree on a budget for holiday gifts. If they cannot agree, they may need to seek the assistance of a mediator or child custody lawyer. Divorced parents can help make the holidays more enjoyable for their children by taking these steps.

Be Prepared for Higher Emotions During the Holidays

Prepare for volatile emotions during the holiday season. Whether your shared child is four, fourteen, or eighteen, you can expect the holidays to be an emotional time for them. Perhaps the holiday season evokes memories of when you and their other parent were still together. Or maybe your child wishes they could spend these special days with both of you rather than dividing their time. Often, custody arrangements dictate which parent the child will spend Christmas or Hanukkah with, which can lead to feelings of sadness, anger, and betrayal. Be patient with your child and take measures to keep them relaxed. Please don't attempt to suppress their emotions, but allow them to share their feelings with you.

Divorced parents must communicate and plan to make the holidays more enjoyable for everyone. First, each parent should sit down with their child and explain the custody arrangement, clearly explaining which days the child will be spending with each parent. Open dialogue with your child will help to prevent confusion or hurt feelings. Next, both parents should brainstorm ideas for how to make the holidays special for their child. This effort could include traditions like decorating cookies, shopping, enjoying holiday festivities, or watching holiday movies together. Finally, remain flexible for your child’s sake. If they want to spend more time with one parent on a particular day, accommodate their wishes, if possible. By taking these steps, divorced parents can help make the holiday season a time of joy for their entire family.

Keep Your Children In the Loop

Children in joint custody arrangements sometimes feel they have no control over their free time. They constantly shift from household to household at their parents' will, with no say in the matter.

While you cannot always fulfill your child's wishes regarding the custody arrangement, you can keep them in the loop about where they will spend their time. We recommend sitting down with your child and their other parent at the beginning of the year and explaining the custody arrangement for the entire year. Explain which holidays they will spend with each parent as far in advance as possible to give them time to adjust to the arrangement.

If you can create flexibility, allowing your child some control over where they spend time can be highly beneficial. For example, you can let them choose which parent they spend their birthday with, defaulting to the other parent for Christmas.

Consider Celebrating in New Ways

It’s tough when you can’t be with your child on special days like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and their birthday, due to a custody arrangement. However, you and your child can create new traditions and find other ways to celebrate together. For example, you can choose a new day to celebrate Christmas together each year. Or maybe you can make a tradition of driving past Christmas light displays on the way to drop them off at their other parent's house. Even if you cannot spend the holidays with your child, you can still find ways to celebrate together.

Speaks Law Firm: Your Child Custody Lawyers in Wilmington, North Carolina

Are you and your child’s other parent at odds over sharing custody this holiday season? At Speaks Family Law, we defend our clients against bullies, including uncooperative spouses. We will be your advocate who speaks for you, standing by your side to resolve your child custody challenges and help you and your child make joyful holiday memories to treasure. As experienced child custody attorneys, our nationally recognized firm has guided countless North Carolina parents through custody laws and agreements, and we’re here for you, too. Contact our team at the Speaks Law Firm today at (910) 769-7339, or complete our online form to schedule your case evaluation.

What You Should Expect in Divorce Court in North Carolina

Wilmington Family Lawyers

Divorce hearings can be scary for anyone. They are even more intimidating if you are getting divorced for the first time. Are you wondering what to expect in divorce court? There is no specific answer. Every case is different and it may present unique challenges and experiences. However, having unclear or unrealistic expectations may lead to disappointments. Ask for help from Wilmington family lawyers. They will help you set your expectations right.

1. What should you expect when going through a divorce?

Divorce can be stressful for anyone. It does not matter how bad your marriage was. Remember that all divorce cases are different. Do not expect to have the same experiences that your friends did. Expect to experience a rollercoaster of emotions including:

2. What should you expect in court?

Divorce court is not as complicated as you may think. Working with your Wilmington family lawyers makes the process simpler. However, you should not expect to stand there while your lawyer does all the work.

You must work with them to get the settlement that matches your expectations. Do not let your fear or anger take over. You must remain calm even when your spouse is lying against you.

Do not expect to “win” in a divorce case. No one really wins in divorce court. Even when dealing with important matters such as alimony, custody, or division of property, you should keep your emotions in check. Note that you won’t always get everything you want.

3. Why should you hire Wilmington family lawyers?

Hiring a lawyer is a good idea even if you are going through a non-contested divorce. Divorce lawyers give you the legal advice you need to get through the difficult period. Like marriage, divorce is a legal process that should be treated professionally.

A divorce lawyer will protect your rights, interpret legal terms, speed up the process, help you initiate conversations with your spouse, and ensure fairness through the process. Hiring a lawyer should not be seen as an act of aggression.

4. How should you prepare kids for divorce?

Even when going through a divorce, you should remember that the children are not getting divorced. You should avoid saying rude or hurtful things to your spouse in their presence. Seek the help of a therapist.

They will help the children process their emotions and get through the process. You should also get co-parenting classes for their sake. The more you fight during a divorce, the more damaging the process can be.

Do not attempt to interfere with the relationship between your children and your spouse unless there is a history of abuse.

If you need the help of Wilmington family lawyers, seek help from Speaks Law Firm. We understand that divorce can be a very personal and sensitive matter. You need the help of good lawyers through the process. We will treat you with respect and high levels of professionalism through the process. Contact us today and book an appointment.

Call today! (910) 769-7339

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What Is Contempt Of Court In Family Law?

While a family court is a court within the civil court system (in contrast to the criminal court system), when a family court issues an order, the person named in the order is required under law to fulfill the obligations of the order. For example, if a court orders a person to pay child support and they fail to do so, they are in direct violation of a court order and can be penalized as such.

One such penalty for violating a family court order is being held in contempt of court. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our Wilmington family lawyers at the law office of the Speaks Family Law, PC to learn more, and consider the following about what you should know about contempt of court in a family law case in North Carolina:

What Is Civil Contempt of Court?
If a party does not fulfill their family court order, the affected party can file a motion to hold the party in default in civil contempt of court. Such an order may be filed when a party fails to comply with a court order in regards to:

The purpose of filing a civil contempt order is to force a delinquent party to comply with the order.

Punishment for Civil Contempt of Court

The purpose of holding someone in civil contempt of court is not necessarily to punish the defendant, but instead to ensure that they comply with the court order. While a person may be incarcerated for up to 90 days initially (and up to one year per North Carolina Statute Section 5A-21, typically, a judge will order payment of any unpaid benefits (child support, alimony, etc.) or garnishment of wages, or take action to require the defendant to comply with the original court order.

In some cases, a person who is in violation of a court order could be held in criminal contempt of court, although a person cannot be found in criminal contempt for the same conduct that landed them in civil contempt. If a person is found in criminal contempt, they may be ordered to pay a fine and may be subject to incarceration.

Filing a Contempt Motion

If your ex-spouse is in violation of a court order, you do not merely have to accept the default. Instead, you have the right to take steps to enforce the court order, including filing a contempt motion with the court and serving the defendant with the motion. In order to ensure that your motion of contempt is filed accurately, it is best to work with a qualified lawyer who has experience managing contempt of court cases. In addition to filing a contempt motion, an attorney can also help you to understand the other options you have for enforcing a court order.

Call Our Family Lawyers Today

To learn more about how our family lawyers at the office of Speaks Family Law, PC can help, please call us today or send us a message. We know how emotional and complex family law matters can be, and want to provide you with the representation you deserve.

Call today! (910) 769-7339

What Forms Do I Need To File a Divorce in Wilmington, NC?

Filing for Divorce

Not only is filing for a divorce an emotionally demanding process, it is also a legally intensive one. To be sure, in order to file for a divorce, one will need to gather and fill out the appropriate forms, file the forms at the relevant location, ensure that their spouse is served the petition and summons, and then negotiate any issues in a divorce (or go to court to litigate the divorce).

At the office of the Speaks Law Firm, PC, our Wilmington family lawyers are able to help you navigate the divorce process, beginning with collecting and filing the proper divorce-related forms. Here’s an overview of what forms you’ll need to file for divorce in North Carolina:

What Forms Do I Need When Filing for a Divorce in North Carolina?

You can file for divorce in North Carolina without establishing a cause for divorce, other than separation of one year, if:

The following forms can help you to seek an absolute divorce from your spouse, but cannot help you in terms of seeking an award for equitable property distribution, alimony/spousal support, child support, or child custody. The three documents that you will need in order to inform the court of your intent to divorce are:

  1. Complaint for absolute divorce;
  2. Domestic civil action cover sheet; and
  3. Civil summons.

Once you have filled out these three forms, you must file them with your local clerk’s office and pay the filing fee.

One this step has been completed, the next step is to officially and legally inform your spouse of your intent to divorce. This requires serving your spouse with the complaint and summons (which can be done by the sheriff).

Once your divorce is finalized, two other important forms are the judgment for absolute divorce and the certificate of absolute divorce.

What About Resolving Issues in the Divorce?

The documents listed above are for those who are pursuing a pro se divorce, which means that they are representing themself during the divorce process. If you are hoping to obtain a judgment from the court in regards to other issues in the divorce, such as equitable distribution or child custody, there are separate forms that you must file, such as a claim of equitable distribution of marital property, or alimony and post-separation support forms.

Call Our Wilmington Family Lawyers Today

Navigating the divorce process on your own isn’t recommended, as if you make a mistake during the process, the consequences could be serious. Instead, you should work with a qualified family law attorney, such as those found at the Speaks Law Firm, PC. You can reach our Wilmington family lawyers to schedule a consultation by calling our law office directly, or sending us a message telling us more about how we can be of assistance.

How Long Does Alimony Last?

Marriage is more than a romantic union; it is also a financial one. Often, one spouse will end up much worse off financially after a divorce, and North Carolina empowers judges to award alimony to one spouse. A Wilmington family lawyer can help you submit a request as part of your divorce.

Alimony is money one spouse pays to his or her ex, typically in monthly installments. Alimony helps ameliorate some of the unfairness of the divorce, often allowing the lower-earning spouse to maintain a comfortable lifestyle.

But how long does alimony last? Once upon a time, only women received alimony and they got it for the rest of their life. However, that is no longer the case around the country or in North Carolina specifically. The duration of alimony is set by a judge, and certain life events can also cause alimony to terminate.

Distinguishing Alimony from Post-Separation Support

First, we need to clarify that alimony is not the same as post-separation support, though sometimes people call them the same thing. Post-separation support is money one spouse will pay to the other for until alimony is determined. Once alimony is granted, dismissed, or denied, post separation support ends.

Calculating the Duration of Alimony

A judge has discretion for how long alimony lasts. The judge will look at a variety of factors and can decide to do one of the following:

A judge might set an end date if the marriage was very short, or if the judge wants to give one spouse a certain amount of time to get an education or training so they can be self supporting.

Even if the judge does not include an end date, this does not mean that a person ends up paying alimony forever. Instead, a spouse can always petition the court to increase or decrease alimony payments as circumstances warrant. For example, say a judge orders you to pay alimony to your ex-wife. Over the course of 2 years, she finishes her college degree and get a high-paying job. At this point, she probably does not need alimony, so you can petition a judge to cut off payments at that point.

Events that Terminate Alimony

Alimony will end if the following occurs:

If you suspect that an ex has entered a new relationship, meet with an attorney to review your case. You might be able to petition the court to cut off alimony.

Contact Speaks Family Law Today

A judge has discretion for how long alimony lasts. The judge will look at a variety of factors and can decide to do one of the following:

A judge might set an end date if the marriage was very short, or if the judge wants to give one spouse a certain amount of time to get an education or training so they can be self supporting.

Even if the judge does not include an end date, this does not mean that a person ends up paying alimony forever. Instead, a spouse can always petition the court to increase or decrease alimony payments as circumstances warrant. For example, say a judge orders you to pay alimony to your ex-wife. Over the course of 2 years, she finishes her college degree and get a high-paying job. At this point, she probably does not need alimony, so you can petition a judge to cut off payments at that point.

Call today! (910) 769-7339

How Long Does Alimony Last After a Divorce in North Carolina?

During a divorce case, a judge will often award alimony if one spouse financially depends on the other. Alimony is also called spousal support or maintenance. Depending on the circumstances of a divorce, a court may award alimony for a specific period of time, permanently, or with zero spousal support.

Moreover, the rules governing alimony vary from one state to the next. In some jurisdictions, spouses must have been married for a certain period of time to be eligible for spousal support. Here, we lay out general alimony rules across the US, but if you have specific questions, please contact the experienced Wilmington family lawyers at Speaks Family Law Firm today.

General Alimony Rules

Once divorce in the country became a possibility, couples could only divorce based on misconduct. Given that it was the husband’s misconduct that ruined the marriage, he was expected to pay alimony. On the other hand, wives who committed the misconduct could forfeit their right to spousal support. Additionally, wives who cheated on their husbands weren’t eligible to get alimony.

No-fault divorces came into existence during the second half of the 20th century. But still, some states made spousal support conditional on which party was at fault. Today, a split exists across the US: marital fault plays a role in determining alimony allocation in half of the states.

Permanent alimony is spousal support awarded either for life or till the age of retirement. Some state laws dictate that a spouse cannot be mandated to make alimony payments past the retirement age of 65. Additionally, some states have a limit on the duration of permanent spousal support, prohibiting awards lasting longer than a decade. This is not the case in North Carolina.

Nowadays, rehabilitative alimony is replacing permanent alimony. It bridges the gap between the divorce date and the time the dependent party becomes financially independent.

How Long Do You Have To Be Married To Getting Alimony?

When one spouse depends on the other for finances, a certain assumption applies. The courts assume the dependent spouse has been in marriage long enough to forgo studies or work opportunities. Super-short marriages of a few years or less rarely result in prolonged spousal support awards. But, most states do not have a minimum amount of time for a dependent spouse to be eligible for alimony.

Some jurisdictions do have a set minimum period before a spouse is eligible for support. Courts will only award spousal support in marriages lasting longer than a decade in states such as:

In such states, alimony payments cannot last longer than half of the marriage’s length unless extenuating circumstances apply. For example, In Texas, marriages must be at least 10 years long for alimony awards, and payments only last 3 years. That’s excluding any extenuating circumstances like a physical disability.

Determining how much alimony a spouse may be eligible to get and the duration of the payments can be difficult. Most states do not have clear guidelines on how a judge should calculate alimony. Hence, spousal support awards vary from one county to another and even from one judge to the next.

A competent family law lawyer from Speaks Family Law Firm because they have the experience you need and may have insight on how your judges usually give rulings in alimony matters. Therefore, if you are trying to negotiate spousal support with your spouse, you should both have attorneys for a smoother process.

How Does Inheritance Factor Into Asset Division After a Divorce in North Carolina?

About Asset Division in North Carolina

If you are getting divorced in North Carolina, you may have questions regarding who has the right to claim an inheritance. Does your spouse have the legal right to claim a share of inheritance that was left to you? Can you claim inheritance that was left to your spouse? Here, our North Carolina divorce lawyers explain how inheritance is divided after a divorce in our state.

The Big Question: Is the Inheritance a Marital Asset?

North Carolina is an equitable distribution jurisdiction (North Carolina General Statutes § 50-20). Under state law, marital property is split up in an equitable manner, and equal is often assumed to be equitable. However, each spouse will retain their ‘non-marital assets’. Assets that are held separately from the marriage will not be divided in a divorce.

In determining how property will be divided, the first question you must ask yourself is whether or not the property a marital asset? In North Carolina, inheritance is generally not a marital asset. This means that inheritance — even if the gift was bequeathed during the marriage — can avoid the asset division process. A spouse who has received inheritance may be able to keep all of it as an individual asset.

Asset Division and Inheritance: There are Major Exceptions

While inheritance is generally assumed to be a non-marital asset, there are some major exceptions to that rule. First, there may be questions over whether or not the inheritance was actually left to the ‘couple’ as opposed to being left to an individual. An inheritance that was bequeathed to the marriage as a whole will likely be deemed a marital asset. That means that it will be subject to the state’s equitable distribution rules.

In addition to that exception, inheritance can ‘transmute’ from a non-marital asset to a marital asset based on the actions of the receiving spouse. For example, if one spouse receives $20,000 in inheritance individually, and then they deposit that money into a joint account and commingle the funds, that inheritance may become marital property. To keep inheritance from being divided in divorce, it should clearly be kept separately.

The Bottom Line: Inheritance is Often Non Marital Property, But Actions Matter

Dealing with inheritance and divorce can be complex and confusing. While North Carolina law allows a person to keep their inheritance as individual property, inheritance can become marital property if proactive measures are not taken to ensure that the inheritance is kept separately. It is strongly recommended that you consult with an experienced North Carolina asset division lawyer immediately if you:

Contact Our North Carolina Divorce Attorneys Today

At Speaks Family Law, our North Carolina divorce lawyers have extensive experience handling the full range of family law issues, including complex property division cases. If you are going through a divorce and you have questions about inheritance, we are here to help. For a private divorce consultation, please contact our Wilmington, NC law office today.

How Do You Serve Child Custody Papers in North Carolina?

A child custody dispute has two sides, and a court needs to hear from both before deciding on such an important issue. If you file court paperwork first, then you will need to inform the other parent. This is called “serving” papers on them.

North Carolina law has detailed rules regarding service. If you need help in your custody dispute, contact a Wilmington family lawyer today. You will be at a disadvantage if you try to tackle a child custody dispute on your own.

What Not to Do: Hand Deliver Papers Yourself

Silver Lake Family Law Attorney This might sound like the simplest way to give the other parents papers — swing on by their house and hand-deliver them yourself. Unfortunately, the law prevents this, so it is not an option. And that kind of makes sense.

Because you are an interested party in the dispute, you would have an incentive to claim you delivered the papers when you really didn’t. So North Carolina sensibly doesn’t let you do that in most cases.

Option 1: Ask the Sheriff to Deliver

You have a few options for legal service of process, and having the sheriff deliver is probably the easiest method. You should ask the sheriff of the county where the other parent lives or works. This might not be the county you currently live in.

The sheriff will charge a small fee, usually $30. You will have to fill out some paperwork to make it easy for the sheriff to make service.

Option 2: Use Certified Mail

You can use this method to send the complaint and civil summons to the defendant. You must:

Option 3: Acceptance of Service

This is an option if you get along with the other parent. He or she can sign a sworn statement in front of a notary public that they received the complaint and civil summons. The defendant must file the statement with the court. So this is an exception to the rule that you can’t hand-deliver the paperwork—you actually can, but only if the defendant will sign and file the acceptance of service. You can call and ask ahead of time but choose another method if they won’t agree to accept service.

Option 4: Publication

This option is reserved for situations where you can’t find the other parent and don’t know where they live. You will need to perform a pretty thorough investigation. All other methods must be exhausted first.

It isn’t enough to swing by your ex’s house and see if their name is still on the mailbox. Instead, ask friends and family if they know where the other parent went. You will also need to search online for information. Talk to an attorney if you can’t easily locate the defendant.

Need Help? Give Us a Call

Service of process rules is tricky. Failing to follow them can result in your case getting kicked out of court, so it is probably best to contact Speaks Law Firm, P.C., today. We have years of experience handling child custody issues, and we would be happy to assist in any way we can.

Call today! (910) 769-7339

How Can a Mother Lose Custody of Her Child After Divorce in North Carolina?

Divorce Attorney Wilmington NC

North Carolina vigorously protects the parent-child relationship, allowing each parent to be involved in their children’s lives. However, in some cases, the state will remove a child from the mother’s home and send the child to live with other relatives or with foster parents.

In other situations, parents divorce or have a child out of wedlock, and the mother gets custody. The father might want to modify custody so that he has custody of the child and the mother gets visitation.

If you are worried about custody, contact a Wilmington family lawyer.

The State Removes Your Child

Child Protection Services typically gets involved when there has been credible suspicion of abuse, neglect, or endangerment. For example, a schoolteacher might notice bruises on your child’s back and call Child Protection Services to report her suspicions. The agency will investigate and probably speak to you.

If the department suspects abuse, they can remove the child from your home. This does not necessarily mean your parental rights will be terminated. Termination is a last resort, and parents usually have many chances to get themselves together. For example, if you have a drug or alcohol addiction, you might have supervised visitation with your children while you get treatment.

If you cannot turn your life around, then you might not get your children back. They might move in with a relative, such as your parents, or into foster care. Eventually, the state might move to terminate your parental rights.

The Father Requests Custody Modification

It is hard to modify custody in North Carolina. Once a judge signs off on a custody order, he is not anxious to revisit it. Judges in particular like stability, so they will maintain the status quo unless there is a very good reason to support a change of custody.

What is a legitimate reason to change custody? Here are some of the more common:

If you have received papers concerning a modification of child custody, reach out to a lawyer today. Often, you can successfully fight off a request to change custody, but you need to convince a judge to maintain the status quo.

Legal Advice when You Need it Most

At Speaks Law Firm, we have represented many mothers in custody disputes. Our firm has built its reputation providing detailed, passionate representation for many emotional issues. If you would like to find out more, contact us today.

Do You Have to Go to Court for a Divorce in Wilmington, NC?

Divorce Attorney Wilmington NC

According to the Centers and Disease Control and Prevention, the divorce rate in America is slowly declining. 3.2 per 1,000 marriages end in divorce. However, divorce is still a sad reality.

If you are going through a divorce, you may be struggling with the question “do you have to go to court for a divorce?” the answer is no. Just like marriage, your divorce is a legal proceeding. Seeking the help of Wilmington family lawyers is a good idea. They will guide you through the entire process.

Contested Divorce

Every divorce is unique and it may present different challenges. If you are going through a contested divorce, you may need to go to court. The court may have to sort it out. Usually, you can get help from a mediator if you can’t agree on matters such as:

If that does not work, you have to go to court. A court will listen to you and witness accounts. They will examine the available evidence, and help you come to an agreement.

If you don’t want to go to court, there are alternative ways to resolve conflicts. Plenty of couples resolve their issues out of court. Work with a neutral and experienced mediator. They will help you reach an agreement that is appropriate for both parties. Working with a mediator may help you save a lot of time and money.

In a contested divorce, you should always seek the help of Wilmington family lawyers. They will help you negotiate and make sure that you get fair compensation.

Collaborative Divorce

In a collaborative divorce, you don’t always have to go to court. You and your spouse can settle your differences out of court. You can agree on all the important issues such as; alimony, custody, and division of property. You should seek the help of Wilmington family lawyers even when your divorce is collaborative. They will provide you with legal advice when you need it. A good lawyer will help you answer the question ‘Do you have to go to court for a divorce?’

If there are no conflicts in your divorce, you and your spouse are in complete control of the process. You may seek consultation from your lawyers and other experts if you wish. Some of the most important experts to consult include; mental health professionals, financial experts, and child therapists.

The decision to divorce in or out of court depends on the specifics of your situation. If you don’t want to go to court, both of you should be willing to compromise and reach an amicable agreement. You should strive to separate the process from personal feelings of hate or resentment.

Contact A Wilmington Family Law Attorney Today

If you need the help of Wilmington family lawyers, consider seeking help from Speaks Law Firm. We have a team of experienced and professional lawyers that can work with you through the stressful period. We understand both the professional and emotional aspects of divorce. Contact us today and get a case review.

Call today! (910) 769-7339

An Experienced North Carolina Divorce Lawyer Answers the Most Frequently Asked Questions

When you first consider getting a divorce, you will experience a wide range of emotions. Knowing that your marriage may end is a difficult realization frequently accompanied by many questions and concerns. You’re aware that divorce laws differ from state to state, so it’s critical to understand your legal options in North Carolina.

To help answer some of the questions you may have, our divorce lawyers from Speaks Law Firm, PC, Family Law Division, have compiled a list of some of the most frequently asked questions we receive from clients.

Will I Be Eligible for Spousal Support?

Either spouse is eligible for spousal support if they meet one of two criteria:

During your period of separation, spousal support can be either temporary or permanent. For example, suppose your spouse was the primary income earner in your shared household, and you require retraining or additional education before reentering the workforce. In that case, post-separation support may help bridge the gap until you complete your education and can find employment.

Since many factors determine spousal support, you should consult with your divorce attorney as early in the process as possible.

How Much Will My Divorce Cost?

Because every marriage is different, every divorce will also be different. As a result, the cost of a divorce cannot be predicted in advance; instead, it will typically depend on the number of issues involved, their complexity, and how cooperative the parties are. Divorce costs are frequently significantly reduced when partners cooperate to solve their problems.

Before starting the process, it's essential to speak with an attorney you're thinking about hiring to learn more about their fee schedule and billing procedures. Even though it's unlikely that you'll be able to predict the exact cost of your divorce, a skilled and knowledgeable lawyer should be able to give you a general idea of anticipated costs so that you can budget for them.

What if My Spouse Won’t Sign the Divorce Papers?

A spouse's refusal to sign the divorce papers will not prevent the divorce from proceeding. Divorces are granted in North Carolina if the couple has been separated and living apart for at least one year and at least one spouse has resided in North Carolina six months before filing. Once these conditions are met, either spouse can initiate the divorce by filing a complaint.

Will I Be Able to Change My Last Name at the Time of My Divorce?

Yes. The most straightforward way to change your name after a divorce is to include it in the divorce complaint. A spouse may request a name change as part of the divorce complaint, which the judge may grant when the divorce is finalized. A spouse may petition the court in the divorce complaint or counterclaim to adopt any last name permitted by law. The court is authorized to incorporate an order authorizing the person to adopt that last name in the divorce decree.

How Long Does the Divorce Process Take?

From the date of filing the divorce complaint to signing by a judge to finalize the divorce, it typically takes 45-90 days to get a divorce in North Carolina.

After serving your spouse, they have 30 days to file an Answer if they want to respond to the divorce complaint. You can request a court date if your spouse has not filed an Answer or if they answer that they agree with the date of separation.

Your divorce could only take about a month, depending on your court date and if there are no complications in the proceedings. However, it could take longer if there aren’t any available court dates or your spouse argues a different date of separation.

Do I Need to Hire an Attorney, or Can I Represent Myself?

It might seem tempting to use online DIY forms to save money in a divorce instead of hiring an attorney. Self-represented parties frequently discover that they have overlooked a crucial step in the divorce process and end up paying more than they would have paid if they had hired a competent lawyer. While there are practical ways to cut costs during the divorce process, choosing to do without an attorney is typically not one of them.

Speaks Law Firm: We Speak for You in Wilmington, North Carolina and surrounding areas.

Before searching for a “lawyer for divorce near me,” call the experienced family law team at Speaks Law Firm. We will be your advocate who speaks for you, standing by your side during this difficult time to assist you in moving forward with your family's future. At Speaks Law Firm, PC, Family Law Division, we defend our clients against bullies—in this case, uncooperative spouses. In a collaborative approach, our divorce lawyers will walk you through every step of the divorce process and can assist you with any aspect of divorce and family law.

When you need a divorce lawyer in Wilmington, Burgaw, and Bolivia North Carolina, and surrounding areas.

Why Should I Hire a North Carolina Divorce Attorney Instead of Filing On My Own?

If you are considering divorce, you might also be considering whether you need to hire an attorney or if you can handle filing for divorce on your own. After all, you’ve found some suitable online divorce forms that seem simple enough to fill out.

We know the divorce process can be expensive, drawn-out, and challenging, and DIY divorce forms can seem like a good option. While it may seem like there are few advantages to handling your divorce case on your own, there are many more benefits to working with an attorney.

In this article, a North Carolina divorce lawyer from Speaks Law Firm, PC, Family Law Division, discusses some important reasons why hiring an experienced divorce lawyer can benefit you in the long run.

A Divorce Lawyer Can Explain North Carolina Divorce

Each state has its own set of requirements and procedures for divorce. In North Carolina a spouse may file for a divorce after:

At least one spouse must meet all the above criteria to file for a no-fault divorce in North Carolina. An experienced divorce lawyer can offer legal advice on what kind of divorce complaint you should file with the court.

An Attorney Can Help You Understand Alimony (Spousal Support)

Divorce often includes a division of assets, such as the home you and your spouse shared and anything you purchased together throughout your marriage. However, you or your spouse may file for alimony if one of you earns more than the other.

Living together allows you and your spouse to live a certain lifestyle with two incomes. If either of you were the primary earner, the lower-earning spouse might have justification to pursue spousal support. Ask your divorce lawyer about spousal support for your divorce.

Your Divorce Lawyer Can Help You Navigate Child Support and Child Custody

If you and your spouse have children together, you must consider child support and custody during your divorce proceeding. Because you and your spouse will almost no longer have shared assets and bank accounts, you will want to ensure that you both honor your obligation to contribute equitably to your child's upbringing.

However, navigating child support and custody issues can be challenging, especially if you and your spouse disagree on important issues such as:

Unless you and your divorcing spouse agree on all these issues, your child custody case will almost certainly necessitate a great deal of wrangling and possibly several trips to court—or, at the very least, the assistance of a mediator. Hiring an attorney to represent you can help you navigate child support and custody issues and receive a fair outcome.

A Divorce Lawyer Can Streamline the Divorce Process

Nobody wants to invest months or even years in a divorce settlement. It can be stressful to navigate the divorce process, and most divorcing couples want it to be over as soon as possible so they can start rebuilding their lives.

When people represent themselves, it is common for them to file incorrect paperwork or forget essential steps. Unfortunately, making errors can frequently lengthen the divorce process and may even increase your financial outlay.

Hiring a divorce lawyer is essential if you're looking to simplify the divorce process. Family and divorce lawyers have years of experience guiding couples through the divorce process as quickly as possible. Your attorney can ensure that all necessary paperwork is filed and all procedures are followed to swiftly finalize your divorce, enabling you to start moving forward more quickly.

An Attorney Can Help You Protect Your Assets

Equitable distribution is a method of dividing marital and other divisible property between divorced parties in an equitable but not necessarily equal manner. The state recognizes three types of property, two of which are subject to equitable division laws:

To achieve the best divorce outcome and protect your right to receive your full property award, you need a lawyer who will fight for you both during negotiations with your spouse and during divorce litigation.

For Your “Divorce Attorney Near Me,” Call Speaks Law Firm in Wilmington, North Carolina and surrounding areas.

Before searching online for a “divorce attorney near me,” consider the experienced family law attorneys at Speaks Law Firm in Wilmington, Burgaw and Bolivia, North Carolina and surrounding areas. We will be your advocate who speaks for you, standing by your side during this difficult time to assist you in moving forward with your family's future. Our divorce lawyers will walk you through every step of the divorce process and can help you with any aspect of divorce and family law. We defend our clients against bullies, including spouses.

A North Carolina Alimony Attorney Answers Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re considering divorce, you likely have concerns regarding how your divorce will impact you financially. Divorce can be one of the most challenging times in a person's life. A significant source of stress for each member of a divorcing couple is concern about their financial future. It is especially true if one partner has been the primary earner in the past. The lower-earning or non-earning spouse may be apprehensive about their ability to pay their financial obligations.

At Speaks Law Firm, PC, Family Law Division, our alimony attorney can help you understand North Carolina’s alimony law and your rights and obligations and answer any questions you may have. We will work hard to ensure that you have a complete picture of your spouse's finances and that you can make informed decisions to meet your current and future financial needs. In this article, we answer some of the frequently asked questions we receive about alimony.

What Are the Types of Spousal Support in North Carolina?

North Carolina generally has two types of spousal support: post-separation support and alimony awarded after the divorce is finalized. These support payments each fill a different need for separating or divorcing spouses.

Your alimony attorney can help you draft your terms for spousal support in mediation, during separation, or after divorce. However, your alimony lawyer will tell you that the earlier in the divorce process you seek legal help, the more likely you are to receive an appropriate sum.

Can I Pursue Spousal Support During Separation?

Yes, you can receive post-separation support while living apart from your spouse. Your alimony attorney can help you file the paperwork to request support.

The court will look at both spouses' financial resources and expenses and award post-separation support according to need and ability to pay. You and your spouse both have necessities of life expenses such as housing, food, utilities, and more. The court will not award either spouse more than the other can pay and continue to live comfortably.

Post-separation support is temporary, either until the divorce finalizes or until the lower-earning spouse can become self-sufficient through education or a higher-paying career. Stay-at-home parents often have gaps on their resumes that can deter ready reentry to the workforce.

Post-separation support can help you or your soon-to-be-ex pay essential living expenses while establishing a new home and career.

What Considerations Will the Court Make for Alimony in a Divorce Case?

The court considers several points while determining alimony awards and amounts, including:

Your alimony lawyer can help you negotiate with your spouse’s alimony lawyer to agree to specific terms before finalizing the divorce in court. The judge can decide in court if you and your spouse can’t agree to alimony terms.

A knowledgeable alimony attorney can help you understand the most likely result and how you can build an argument to best present your position in your alimony case.

How Long Can I Receive Alimony Payments?

You and your spouse can agree to a specific term for alimony payments, or you may receive alimony indefinitely. If you receive indefinite alimony, payments will end under certain conditions, including:

Your alimony attorney can help you outline additional terms for alimony payments in your divorce settlement agreement, such as requesting to receive alimony for a set period or until a specific event, like your youngest child graduating from college.

How Do I Find a Divorce Lawyer Near Me?

You can search for “divorce lawyers near me” online and ask friends and family for recommendations. Be sure to read client reviews for each attorney and firm to narrow the field for your options.

When you have your top options, schedule a consultation to discuss to determine if they’re a good fit for you.

Some attorneys work independently of other lawyers in their firms, meaning only one attorney reviews your divorce case. Other firms discuss cases like yours between attorneys in the firm, allowing your alimony attorney to gather several points of view and additional years of experience for your case.

Call Speaks Law Firm, Family Law Attorneys in Wilmington, North Carolina, for Spousal Support in Your Divorce Case

At Speaks Law Firm, we will be your advocate who speaks for you, standing by your side during this difficult time to assist you in moving forward with your family's future. Our skilled and experienced alimony attorneys will walk you through every step of the divorce process. We can assist you with any aspect of divorce and family law. Our firm is committed to defending our clients against bullies, including spouses. When you need an alimony attorney in Wilmington, North Carolina.