Do You Need a Contested Divorce Attorney in North Carolina?

In some divorce cases, both spouses agree on all issues and finalize the divorce quickly. However, in many cases, a divorcing couple cannot reach an agreement on important matters, requiring the intervention of the court. A contested divorce occurs when spouses disagree on any matters within the divorce. They need the court to decide on the matter for them. A contested divorce attorney is experienced in managing the many elements of a North Carolina divorce case while representing your interests and seeking settlement terms that are fair and appropriate for both parties.

You may feel that your perspectives and preferred divorce terms are reasonable, while your spouse seems to be drawing the conflict out with outrageous demands. Alternatively, it may seem your spouse is failing to acknowledge the concerns you are putting forth. It may be that despite mutual efforts, you are simply unable to agree.

If you are going through a contested divorce, you may be feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or angry. Working with a qualified divorce attorney can take some of the stress off your shoulders while ensuring you avoid missteps that threaten to complicate your life after your divorce.

Common Disagreements in a North Carolina Contested Divorce

Even if you and your spouse agree on all but one issue, a judge will need to be involved, and your divorce will be considered contested. Essentially, a divorce that does not qualify for the more efficient process of uncontested divorce will be a contested divorce.

Couples often disagree on a wide range of issues, such as the following:

  • Division of property & assets
  • Child support terms
  • Child custody terms
  • Child visitation terms
  • Spousal support (alimony) terms

We can help you from the beginning to streamline the contested divorce process and work with the other party towards greater agreement. Contact our contested divorce legal team at Speaks Law Firm, PC, Family Law Division to schedule a case review.

How Does a Judge Determine the Division of Assets in a North Carolina Contested Divorce?

Different states use different procedures to divide assets in divorce cases. North Carolina uses an equitable distribution policy in which a judge seeks to divide the marital property fairly and equitably between both spouses. Due to the nature of some indivisible property items and other factors considered, this does not mean the division will necessarily be equal or balanced; the goal is to make the property division fair and just.

Marital fault and other types of misconduct in the marriage typically do not affect the equitable distribution of shared assets. Additionally, the spouse who filed the divorce does not have any priority over the other spouse in the division of assets.

Still, a judge will consider several factors to determine how to divide assets fairly. These may include:

  • The liquidity of the shared property
  • The length of the marriage
  • Each spouse’s income
  • Each spouse’s non-marital assets
  • Each spouse’s contribution to the shared property
  • Any financial misconduct after separation

Working with a contested divorce attorney can help you more reliably pursue a fair outcome in this process. Your attorney can advocate for you to the judge and present evidence in your favor.

How Does a Judge Decide Child Custody in North Carolina?

If you and your spouse have a shared child, you can attempt to create a custody arrangement on your own. However, if you cannot agree on custody, a judge will intervene to determine an appropriate arrangement for the welfare of your child.

The judge will consider many factors when creating a custody arrangement, such as:

  • The living situation of each party
  • The stability of each party
  • The child’s preference of living situation
  • The child’s age
  • The child’s relationship with each party

While examining these factors, the judge will attempt to create an arrangement that promotes the child’s interests. If you are seeking majority custody in a divorce case, you will need an experienced contested divorce lawyer on your side.

How Long Does a Contested Divorce Take in North Carolina?

The amount of time a contested divorce in North Carolina will take will vary, depending on several factors. A major factor that will affect the duration of the divorce process in North Carolina is your ability to agree to terms.

After one of the spouses files for divorce, the other spouse has 30 days to respond by either filing an Answer or requesting an extension. After the 30 days have passed, a hearing date can be set with the county, and the time will be based on availability. The divorce will be final when the judge signs the judgment.

Before you can begin an “absolute divorce,” as North Carolina calls the legal dissolution of marriage, you and your spouse must first live apart for one year before proceeding with the divorce. Understand that you or your spouse also must have lived in North Carolina for at least six months before you can file for divorce.

Depending on how many of the requirements you have already fulfilled when you begin the process your divorce could take a couple of months or over a year and a half. However, working with an experienced divorce lawyer from the start can help you streamline this process.

How Can a Contested Divorce Attorney Help You Seek a Fair Settlement in NC?

Contested divorces can be messy, stressful, and overwhelming. Even if you and your spouse were on good terms during the marriage, disagreeing on major issues can bring out your worst sides.

However, a contested divorce attorney can take some of the stress out of your divorce process. Your attorney can:

  • Speak with your spouse and their legal team on your behalf
  • Walk you through the contested divorce process
  • Advocate for you to the judge
  • Provide legal advice and guidance

If you’re looking for professional contested divorce lawyers to assist your divorce, Speaks Law Firm, PC, Family Law Division can help. Contact us today in Wilmington, NC to schedule your case review.

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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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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:

  • Excitement
  • Guilt
  • Fear
  • Anger

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, PC Family Law Division. 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.

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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 Law Firm, PC Family Law Division 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:

  • Child custody;
  • Child support;
  • Spousal maintenance/alimony;
  • Property division;
  • Any other family law matter.

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 Law Firm, PC Family Law Division 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.

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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 Family Law Division, 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:

  • You are a resident of North Carolina (you or your spouse has lived in the state for at least six months); and
  • You and your spouse have lived separate and apart for at least one year.

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 Family Law Division. 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.

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