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Adopting a Child

Adopting a child is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. When you adopt a child, you provide him or her with a loving home and a lifetime of opportunities that may not have otherwise been possible. It is helpful to hire a Wilmington, North Carolina adoption lawyer to assist with the adoption process. Your adoption attorney will answer your questions and protect your rights as well as the rights of your newly adopted child. The process must be properly completed in order to ensure a successful adoption.

Whether you are adopting a child or placing a child for adoption, you need to make sure that the process is carried out according to the current laws. An adoption lawyer in Wilmington, NC will help you every step of the way to make sure there is a smooth transition. It is important to know that every adoption must go through the court system. The courts will ensure that the child is placed in a home that is best for them. Decisions are always made in the best interest of the child. The best time to enlist the services of a Wilmington, NC adoption lawyer is as soon as you decide you want to adopt.

Types of Adoption Available in North Carolina

The adoption process allows someone to become the parent of a child under the eyes of the law. Once complete, an adopted child will basically be the same as a natural child. Parents of adopted children are responsible for providing for their adopted child and have the same rights as other parents. An adoption lawyer will help you with the entire process from start to finish.

There are a variety of different types of adoption that are possible. Each type involves the adoption of a child by someone other than their biological parent. The adoption process requires that you follow a specific legal process. You can get answers to your questions from a Wilmington, North Carolina adoption lawyer.

Private Adoption

Private adoptions are often done through agencies. These types of adoptions can be complex and require help from an adoption attorney. Private adoptions are often closed, meaning that neither the adoptive parents nor the child is allowed to know the identities of the child’s biological parents.

Open Adoption

An open adoption is one where the biological parents remain known. This may occur in a number of circumstances. For example, there are situations where the adoptive family knows the mother and agrees to adopt and raise the child.

Relative Adoption

A relative such as an aunt or uncle may want to adopt a child. This can occur when the child’s parents are having difficulties or are no longer available to care for the child. For instance, a parent might be unfit because of drug addiction or is institutionalized or behind bars, and a relative may step in to take over parenting responsibilities.

Stepparent Adoption

Stepparent adoptions occur when a parent’s spouse wants to adopt a child. This happens in many instances where the family wishes to be unified. Speak with an adoption attorney to learn more about stepparent adoptions.

Grandparent Adoption

A grandparent may choose to adopt their grandchild due to a variety of circumstances. When a parent is not able or doesn’t want the responsibilities of parenthood, a grandparent may take over the obligations of parenting. Grandparent adoptions can be assisted by adoption attorneys in Wilmington.

About Child Adoption in North Carolina

The decision to adopt is a serious one and must be made after careful consideration. Once you adopt a child, you are responsible for his or her life, and you must provide everything the child needs to live and thrive. A minor child under the age of 18 may be adopted. Some children are placed in foster care and are not available for adoption. Except for rare instances, a child’s biological parents generally must consent to the adoption. A Wilmington adoption lawyer will answer your questions and help you through the process.

Generally, adoptions require you to complete some important steps:

  • First, you will need to fill out and submit an application with personal information.- It includes a great deal of background details that are necessary before you will be considered. Typically, adoptions take place with two parents, although more and more often, adoptions are allowed by one person alone. An adoption attorney can assist you in filling out the necessary applications.
  • You must take part in a pre-placement assessment.- This is also called a home study. The purpose of the home study is to view the potential home environment to make sure that it is satisfactory for the child. A pre-placement assessment is not required for stepparent adoptions because the child is usually already living in the home. Your adoption attorney will inform you as to whether any type of assessment will be necessary for your case.
  • The adoptive parent must be deemed to be a satisfactory parent for the child.- This is usually not problematic for potential parents. However, if you have a criminal background or have other issues, you should discuss these with an adoption lawyer before you begin the child adoption process. There might be some things that could disqualify you from adoption. If so, you should know that before you begin a lengthy, and sometimes, costly process. It is best to learn as much as possible about the process from an adoption attorney in Wilmington, NC.

Once you meet the background criteria, you will be placed on a waiting list for adoption with an agency. Some agencies may have a great many more adoptive families than adoptive children available, so you could be waiting for a while. The agency always tries to match you with a child that is best suited to your family. When a child becomes available, you will be interviewed, and you may be selected to become an adoptive parent. There is a great deal of paperwork that you must sign. You should have your adoption attorneys review it before you provide your signature.

About North Carolina Stepparent Adoptions

One of the most common types of adoption occurs when a stepparent wishes to adopt a stepchild. The modern family unit is often a mixture of stepchildren that come together to form a new type of family. The law allows stepparent adoptions so that families can create a legally bound cohesive group that will give children more support.

This is like a typical child adoption, except that both biological parents must consent to the process. In some circumstances, one parent has been absent from the child’s life, and the stepparent has already been acting as a parent. The adoption process allows the stepparent to be considered a natural parent under the law. Adoption attorneys will be available to give you the necessary details about what to expect with a stepparent adoption.

The adoption process for stepparents is typically less difficult than other kinds of adoptions. The basic requirement to begin the adoption process is that the biological parent and stepparent must be married for a period of at least six months.

In order for a stepparent adoption to occur, the non-custodial biological parent must consent to terminate his or her parental rights. In some instances, you may not know where the parent lives or have any contact with him or her. In these cases, the adoption process can be slightly more difficult. A Wilmington, North Carolina adoption lawyer will review the situation and advise you as to what options are available. In most cases, search methods can be utilized to locate the missing parent, even if they reside out of state.

Regardless of whether the non-custodial parent has been involved in a child’s life, he or she does still have parental rights. A biological parent must receive and respond to the notice that an adoption is requested.

As part of the adoption, the biological parent gives up his or her rights as well as responsibilities. This also means the parent will no longer be required to pay child support after the adoption is completed. However, if the parent owes back child support, he or she will still be obligated to make those payments. An adoption does not void the payment of support that has already accumulated before the adoption takes place.

Stepparent adoptions typically do not require an appearance in front of a judge as long as the legal requirements have been met. Your adoption lawyer in Wilmington, NC will review your case and help make sure that you follow the proper procedures.

Although stepparent adoptions are less complicated than private adoptions, they still require legal action that should be reviewed by an adoption attorney so that you can ensure you understand all the ramifications that are part of a stepparent adoption.

Family Adoptions in North Carolina

Family members may sometimes adopt children of their loved ones. Grandparent adoptions are not uncommon. They may happen when a grandparent is more suitable to provide parenting than the parent him or herself. Adoption lawyers may realize that this occurs most frequently when parents are young when they have children. In this case, the grandparent may feel competent to handle a young child without reservation.

The courts may prefer to allow these types of adoptions because the child will remain within the extended family unit. Therefore, the child may be able to continue seeing his or her biological parent throughout his life. This is often preferable to foster care, which could occur if the parent is unable to continue caring for the child. Discuss family and grandparent adoptions with an adoption attorney in Wilmington, North Carolina, to see if this is a viable option for you.

Another reason for family adoptions is the death of one or both parents. When a death occurs, a guardian is appointed, usually based on the parent’s will. In some instances, the guardian will prefer to become the legal adoptive parent. This can provide the child with a more stable environment and will make the child feel that they are more a part of the family. Of course, all of these special circumstances should be discussed in full with a North Carolina adoption attorney.

How a Wilmington, NC Adoption Lawyer Can Help Your Case

Adoption can be a complicated process, especially for those who are not aware of the complexities of the procedures. You probably have many questions that require answers before you make the decision to adopt. These questions can be answered by adoption lawyers in Wilmington, North Carolina. It is best to completely understand what you will be getting into, so you know what to expect. Adoption attorneys in Wilmington are available to assist you with your concerns.

Making the decision to adopt is almost always easier for those who are adopting relatives or stepchildren. You are already part of the child’s life and understand the importance of being a role model for the child. Providing a stable and secure home environment for the child will help him or her thrive and be happy.

Before you adopt, you need to understand your obligations. Once you adopt a child, you are responsible for providing care, including support should it be necessary. You’ll also have to be there for guidance as the child grows up. Becoming a parent through adoption is one of the best experiences you can imagine. To get started, reach out to a North Carolina child adoption attorney today.

Seek Legal Guidance from Adoption Lawyers in Wilmington, NC

Adopting a child is a significant decision that will bring lifelong joy to you and to your adopted child. While it is a joyful time, you should not overlook the legal aspects. An adoption attorney is able to guide you through the adoption process every step of the way. Your Wilmington, NC adoption attorneys understand the complexities of these types of cases and will handle all of the details to make the situation as stress-free as possible.

You need to concentrate on bringing your new family together, not on the legal issues of the adoption. That’s what your adoption lawyers are here to do. When you are considering adoption, spend time discussing the matter with our Wilmington, NC adoption attorneys.

At Speaks Law Firm, PC Family Law Division, we are here to assist you through the adoption process from answering your questions to completing the forms and attending a court hearing. We are available to handle all types of adoptions, including stepparent adoptions. Contact Speaks Law Firm, PC Family Law Division to schedule a consultation and to begin the adoption process or call us at: (910) 769-7339.

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Why Choose Speaks Law Firm, PC Family Law Division?

Passion – Our family law attorneys, Justin Moulin and Sarah Gray, are dedicated to helping clients with legal matters involving divorce and family issues in Wilmington, North Carolina. We put clients’ needs first, and we are passionate about helping people through emotionally difficult times.
Experience – When dealing with family legal issues, you need someone with a proven track record. Sarah Gray and Justin Moulin have dedicated their careers to representing families. Sarah has more than 10 years of experience representing clients, while Justin has worked in multiple counties in North Carolina and has focused on custody and child support actions, protective order hearings, alimony claims, property division, and divorce.
Case review – You can have peace of mind when you discuss your needs with us. We will review your circumstances and goals. In this discussion, we can create a plan for you and determine your challenges and opportunities. Fill out our online form to schedule a case evaluation.

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  • I was very pleased with the way that Speaks Family Law handled my case. They worked hard to get the most money that they could. Everyone at the firm was always polite and always answered all of my concerns. I would definitely recommend Speaks Family Law to anyone who needs representation. I always knew that they were there anytime I needed them. A big “Thank you!” goes out to all of the people who are involved with the firm.

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  • “She was amazing, she was able to give me the information I needed and was straight forward about what was possible regarding my son. She has made me feel confident in knowing that father’s have just as much legal rights to kids as moms. If I need legal help regarding anything further I will be contacting her again for sure.”

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  • It was a very helpful experience and I am especially grateful for the way they answered my questions and helped me navigate what would have been a much more difficult situation. I felt that my interests were fought for and taken care of and would hightly recommend anyone who might go through this to be respresented by Speaks Law Firm, PC Family Law Division.

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FAQS About Alimony

Below are some frequently asked questions about Alimony:

Who may qualify for alimony in North Carolina?

Not every North Carolina divorce warrants alimony or spousal support payments. An NC family law court is unlikely to award alimony if both spouses work or are capable of working. A Wilmington family law attorney can review your case and evaluate whether you may be entitled to alimony.

A spouse may receive alimony after a long marriage during which they were a stay-at-home parent, or if they are the primary caretaker of a disabled child or other dependent. In some cases, alimony may be permanent, but often it’s a temporary arrangement to help the lower-earning spouse get back on their feet financially. Alimony will typically end if the recipient remarries or enters into a new domestic partnership.

What’s the difference between alimony and post-separation support?

North Carolina mandates a one-year separation period before a couple can file for divorce. During that time, post-separation support can cover the lower-earning spouse’s living costs or other needs. Post-separation support may also fund education or professional training.

Unlike alimony, which depends on the couple’s separation agreement and begins after divorce, post-separation support is a temporary pre-divorce arrangement that an NC court may order through a quick process that may not even require a hearing. This order will terminate if the spouses resume their marriage or divorce.

How do North Carolina courts determine alimony?

NC family law courts award alimony on a case-by-case basis. A judge may consider:

  • Each spouse’s age, income, assets, debts, and earning capacity
  • The amount of money the alimony recipient would need to keep up the standard of living they had while married
  • The paying spouse’s ability to keep up with alimony payments
  • The duration of the marriage
  • Marital misconduct like adultery, abuse, or squandering marital assets

A voluntary agreement with your spouse will usually be quicker, cheaper, and less stressful than taking an alimony case to court. Our experienced alimony attorney can help you negotiate a mutually acceptable alimony plan.

Do I need an alimony lawyer?

We recommend consulting an alimony attorney if:

  • You are preparing for divorce and plan to request alimony, or
  • You disagree with your spouse’s alimony request (for example, you believe your spouse is demanding an excessive alimony amount)

Our Wilmington divorce lawyers can protect your legal rights and help you settle all financial aspects of divorce, including alimony. Call our office at Speaks Law Firm, PC Family Law Division in Wilmington, NC, at (910) 769-7339 for a consultation.

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:

  • Set an end date
  • Set no end date and have alimony last indefinitely

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:

  • The spouse who is paying alimony dies
  • The spouse receiving alimony gets married again
  • The spouse receiving alimony dies
  • The spouse receiving alimony begins cohabitating with boyfriend or girlfriend in marriage-like relationship

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 Law Firm, PC Family Law Division 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:

  • Set an end date
  • Set no end date and have alimony last indefinitely

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.

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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 Law Firm, PC Family Law Division 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:

  • Mississippi
  • Tennessee
  • Maine

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 Law Firm, PC Family Law Division 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.

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